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Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter in Japan

Do the Japanese celebrate Easter?

The simple answer is yes.  There are over a half-million Catholic Christians residing in Japan... and no, they aren't gaijin (foreigners)... they are Japanese.

As well, it it is rumored (I can't confirm this total) that there are an equal number of non-Catholic Christians in Japan.  
So... Easter is not an unknown commodity in Japan. Is it wildly celebrated and revered? In the grand scheme of things, the answer is no. Is it celebrated? Yes.

The Japanese do know of many western traditions such as Christmas, Valentine's Day and Halloween, and while Halloween is not celebrated as it is back in Canada and the U.S., for example (I'm writing about what I know), certainly Christmas and Valentine's Day are. Although in Japan, women given men Valentine's gifts and cards on February 14 and the men return the favor one month later on March 14 on what they call White Day.
There is a Japanese kanji (Chinese-style letters) conglomeration called fukkatsusai (復活祭), although the more common katakana-alpahabet word of  iisutaa (イースター), (said phonetically) is heard more often.

Fukkatsu means revival (akin to resurrection), and sai, in this case, means festival.

I found a few key words for you: .
Bunny: うさぎ which is usagi in Japanese.
Chick: ひよこ  = hiyoko
Chocolate: チョコレート chokoreeto
Egg: 卵  is tamago
Jesus: イエス  = Iiesu
Christ: キリスト Kirisuto

The Iesu Kirisuto (pronounched Eh-sue Key-wris-toe) is an interesting phonetic translation. In Latin, it sounds pretty damn close to the pronunciation of Heysu Chris-teh.

Regardless... to those of you celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on this day, Happy Crucifixion... which sounds funny, but when you think about it... his death was anticipated by himself and was required and important to make the world understand his message. The resurrection three days later was just the icing on the Easter egg.

As for the whole bunny rabbit thing, it was believed back in the old days, that the hare/rabbit was a hermaphrodite... having both male and female sexual organs. As such, it was believed that the critter could reproduce within itself without actually losing its virginity.

Having a child while keeping her virginity intact was something Jesus of Nazareth's mother Mary was apparently able to do, which is why she is celebrated in the Catholic Church. I've always believed she should be celebrated, but not worshiped.

The whole 10 Commandments thing about not worshiping any false gods or idols... that implies that in a monotheism religion like Christianity, there is only one God and you worship only the one God. Of course, in the Christian belief... there is God, Son of God (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, but conveniently, all three are actually one in the same being... a Holy Trinity.

Regardless...  that still doesn't explain why God tells Jesus he's going to die.. the implication is that he's talking to himself or has a split or multiple personality.

I know, I know... I'm talking science. Religion is not about science... it's about belief. Easter is all about belief...serious belief... I mean, the whole crucifix thing... the symbol of Christianity (the fish is a fine symbol, too)... but its got the son of God hanging on a cross dying! That's serious.

Easter should be celebrated as the most important event in the Christian religion... and it is in Japan, too.

Happy Easter!

Andrew Joseph