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26 Jun, 2017

Google Doodle Celebrates the Birthday of Japan’s Blind Scholar Hanawa Hokiichi

Hanawa Hokiichi, Japan’s revered blind scholar and Buddhist monk of the Edo-era, was born on this date a full 271 years ago. A Google Doodle appearing in the country Friday shows the savant seated next to a kneeling student, with dreams of books floating above his head — alluding to his reputation as a font of wisdom.

Hokiichi is known for compiling the more than 500-volume Gunsho ruijū, a vast collection of linguistic texts and classical literature. He is also remembered as a person who persevered in the face of adversity; after going blind when he was a young boy, Hokiichi impressed local scholars with his extraordinary memory. He studied history, literature, medical science and jurisprudence under several masters.

 When American author and activist Hellen Keller visited the Hanawa Hokiichi memorial house in 1937, she described it as the most significant event of her trip to Japan. “I believe that his name would pass down from generation to generation like a stream of water,” Keller reportedly said.

Hokiichi also founded the Wagakusho school, where he passed his knowledge on to a new generation of adoring Japanese scholars.


Original Article: http://time.com/4829722/google-doodle-hanawa-hokiichi/

20 Jun, 2017

Weekly Update (6/20/17)

Dear Pastors and Prayer Partners,

For the last three Saturdays, we have been able to help our home church with a special outreach they are currently working on. The church is currently working to saturate a portion of Alpharetta with Gospel literature. The area has approximately 1,000 homes and residences, and we were able to reach out for a once again this past weekend. Each time, the Lord has supplied laborers to complete the task and we are excited about what the Lord will do through this work.

This past Sunday we had the opportunity to be with one church in AL for the morning service and another church in GA for the evening service. Since the church we were with in the morning did not have a piano player, Rosie was able to help out with their music during the worship service.

This week, we are in Trenton, GA for the Our Generation Camp along with several other missionaries from Vision Baptist Missions. Next week, we will be flying out to Japan, and will be gone for a 10-day trip so there may be a delay in getting an update to you, but we look forward to writing to you from Japan!

***

Recently trending in technology have been smart speakers – gadgets that you can talk to almost like a personal assistant. But how would you like a personal bear to talk to? Check out the news section for more information. 

Praise:
  • Successful start to camp

Prayer Requests:
  • That God would use next week’s camp to raise up laborers
  • Saftey traveling to Japan next week

From the News:
  • While Japan has popular mobile apps such as WhatsApp, there is another messaging app company called Line that is extremely popular in Japan. The company has several characters they use as mascots, but among them are a duck and a bear. Going along with recent trends to make smart speakers, Line recently announced that they will be releasing smart speakers that look like the bear or chicken.  Who wouldn’t want to talk to a friendly bear?

20 Jun, 2017

Japan’s answer to the Amazon Echo comes in ‘bear’ or ‘chicken’

Western tech giants aren’t the only ones trying to get users to talk to their computers — Japanese messaging giant Line is also getting involved. Earlier this year, the company announced it would be building a digital assistant and smart speaker, and today, at its annual conference in Tokyo, it unveiled new details about the products.

The basic functionality of Line’s smart speaker range is similar to Google Home and Amazon Echo. You can play music, make lists, set alarms and so forth. But the Line has a secret weapon: cuteness. At the top of the page you can see a pair of the company’s speakers based on two of its popular mascots: Brown the bear, and Sally the chick. (There’s a whole family of Line characters that are featured on various forms of merchandise from stickers to themed cafes.) These images aren’t final, but Line has confirmed that a number of these “casual and more portable” cartoon smart speakers will be available winter 2017.

The company’s flagship speaker will be the Wave (above), which is scheduled to go on sale in Japan this autumn for ¥15,000 ($136). Like the company’s other speakers, the Wave will be powered by Line’s voice-activated digital assistant Clova. With Clova, users can maintain calendars and to-do lists, get information from the web, control smart home gadgets, and “even engage in casual conversations.”

The Champ speaker range will be based on Line’s famous cartoon mascots.
Image: Line

As is the case with Apple’s HomePod, Line is also using its smart speakers to encourage adoption of its music streaming service, Line Music. The company is also working on a third smart speaker with a built-in screen, although it’s not clear how this will be used. A concept image below, shows what could be animated version of Sally the cartoon chicken’s face.

With the launch of its speakers and digital assistant, Line is looking to move beyond its roots and expand its reach across Asia. (Clova will be capable of talking in both Japanese and Korean.) The company’s messaging app is dominant in only a handful of countries, and although it can handle a variety of tasks — including reading the news, finding jobs, and hailing taxis — Line thinks that after the smartphone boom has died down, AI services will be the next big thing.

“There is a shift toward toward post-smartphone, post-touch technologies,” Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa told Bloomberg earlier this year. “These connected devices will permeate even deeper into our daily lives and therefore must even closer match the local needs, languages, and cultures.”


Original Article: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/15/15807288/line-smart-speaker-digital-assistant-cartoon

13 Jun, 2017

Weekly Update – (06/13/17)

Dear Pastors and Prayer Partners,

We have had a busy week and are thankful for all the churches that have allowed us to come and be with them. We were in GA on Tuesday, SC on Wednesday, and TN on Thursday. We were also with two churches on Sunday. The first was in SC and the other in GA, and are excited that Sunday morning’s church voted to start supporting the ministry. Thank you so much for your continued prayers!

While the Our Generation Camp is scheduled to start next week, we wanted to let you know that there is still time to register! If you would like to participate, please be sure to visit the registration page on the mission board website here. The camp will be held in Trenton, GA (just south of Chattanooga, TN). Those going on the trip to Japan with us will also be at camp, so we are excited about this time to spiritually charge up before we fly out to Japan. 

***

In Japan, the actual leader of the country is the Prime Minister (just like the United Kingdom), but there is also a figurehead leader as well. There have been some historic changes allowed to happen in the royal family, and you won’t want to miss the news. See below for details.  

 

Praise:
  • One new Supporting Church

Prayer Requests:
  • Meetings for 2018
  • That God would use next week’s camp to raise up laborers

From the News:
  • While the next emperor usually takes the throne after the previous one passes away, Japan recently passed a bill allowing the current emperor to abdicate and transfer the crown. Although the monarch’s power is predominantly symbolic, this is still very significant. In Japan, official records base the current date on the years the emperor has been in power. No doubt, a “new year” will begin soon. 

12 Jun, 2017

Japan crown prince vows to be devoted emperor like father

Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito pledged Tuesday to devote himself to the role of emperor, like his father, when he assumes the Chrysanthemum Throne.

“I will devote myself body and soul to every single duty,” Naruhito said.

Japan’s parliament passed a special law last Friday allowing current Emperor Akihito to abdicate within three years.

Last August, Akihito indirectly expressed his wish to abdicate, saying his age and health might start limiting his ability to fulfill his duties.

No specific dates have been announced, but officials are reportedly eyeing an abdication at the end of 2018, when Akihito turns 85 and his reign is in its 30th year. Akihito would be the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.

Naruhito said he understands and respects his father’s feelings.

“While serving many years as a symbol of the people, the emperor has tackled his tasks extremely seriously, taking every one of them close to heart and sincerely seeking out how his ideal role should be,” Naruhito said.

Naruhito, 57, the emperor’s eldest son and first in line to the throne, made the comments to a group of journalists ahead of a trip to Denmark marking 150 years of diplomatic ties.

Akihito is the first emperor to ascend to the throne with his role defined as the symbol of the people under Japan’s post-World War II pacifist Constitution. His father, Hirohito, was worshipped as a living god and was the symbol of Japan’s plans to colonize Asia until he renounced his divinity after Japan’s defeat.

Akihito has attempted to soothe some of the old wounds from the war and has traveled to areas that once were torn by Japan’s aggression. He has repeatedly said he fully respects his constitutional status as a symbol, and has brought the once-cloistered imperial family closer to the people.

Naruhito said he would follow his father’s example.

He said foreign visits are excellent opportunities to foster mutual understanding and friendship and are one of most important roles of the royal family. His father and mother, Empress Michiko, have been mindful of the history and relations between Japan and the countries they visited and thought seriously about how they could promote friendship, he added.

“I have observed how the emperor and the empress have acted,” Naruhito said. “I will respect their feelings and sincerely work on foreign trips in the future.”


Original Article: http://www.fresnobee.com/entertainment/article155823849.html

06 Jun, 2017

Weekly Update (6/6/17)

Dear Pastors and Prayer Partners,

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to be with two different churches near Birmingham, AL. This evening, we will be at a fellowship just south of Atlanta, and tomorrow we will be in South Carolina for the Wednesday evening service.

In less than two weeks, we will be at the Our Generation Camp, and in less than three weeks, we will be on our way to Japan! We would like to thank all of you who have been praying for this trip, and who have helped to make it possible.

***

While the Japanese flag may seem like little more than a white sheet with a red dot, there are actually many interesting facts surrounding the national flag. Check out the news section for a link to 10 quick facts about the flag.

 

Praise:
  • Safety travelling to meetings

Prayer Requests:
  • Meetings for 2018
  • Trip to Japan

From the News:
  • Have you ever tried to draw a Japanese flag? If you have, you’ve probably realized that it can be difficult to get the proportions just right. Did you know that the red color is also specific? Click here to find out more.

05 Jun, 2017

10 Interesting Facts about the Japanese Flag

The Japanese flag is more than just a flag to the people of this island country! We’ve got 10 interesting facts about this national symbol for you guys:

1) Did you know that the Japanese flag has it’s own name!? It is called  Nisshōki or the sun-mark flag but a more commonly known today as Hinomaru or circle of the sun. Sounds beautiful right?

2) It isn’t Japanese if there isn’t a legend to go with it! The flag included. During the 13th century the Mongols threatened to invade Japan, and at the moment the Buddhist Priest Nichiren offered a solar disk which was believed to be a descendent of the Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu to the Emperor of Japan.

3) The colors of Hinomaru is not just a simple red, but crimson and white!

4) What profound meaning does the Japanese flag hold? The white represents purity and honesty and crimson is sincerity and passion.

5) The largest flag can be found in Izumo Shrine in Shimane Prefecture. It is a whopping 9 meters tall and 13.6 meters wide! And is also 47 meters in the air and weighs as much as a person at 108 Ibs!

6) Hinomaru became official on August 13th, 1999 with the instauration of a law designated “Kimi Ga Yo” as the National Anthem and the flag.

7) There was another flag with a red disc off centered with 16 sun rays that was used of the Japanese Navy from October 7th, 1889:

8) After the defeat of Japan and the end WWII, the treaty of San Francisco officially forbid the usage of the Navy Flag. However it is still used by Naval Self Defense Forces since June 30th 1954 and is used a lot by Japanese Nationalists.

9) When flying the flags of Japan next to another country at the same time the guest country is always placed at the right and at equal height and size.

10) The oldest Japanese Flag can be found in Yamanashi Prefecture, at Unpo-ji Temple in Koshu. It dates back to 16th Century and according to legend it was offered to the temple by the Emperor Go-Reizei in the 11th Century.


Original Article: https://www.yummyjapan.net/japan-flag/

01 Jun, 2017

June 2017 Prayer Letter

June, 2017

Dear Pastors, Friends, and Faithful Supporters,

We are very excited that the Lord continues to provide safety as we travel. This past month, we were at 14 different churches in 6 different states. The Lord has provided additional support and we have seen an increase of an additional 5%, bringing our support level to 14.5%! We appreciate your faithful prayers and support and ask that you continue to pray that the Lord would help us reach our goal so we can get to Japan as quickly as possible.

For the last week in May, Vision Baptist Missions (our mission board) has been hosting a week-long training for the state-side missionaries. We have been both encouraged and challenged in areas such as preparing for the field, church-planting, and spiritual warfare. Rosie and I are extremely thankful to have leaders such as Pastor Austin Gardner and Bro. Jeff Bush who help us and encourage us in the work.

Beginning June 19th, we will be at the Our Generation Camp hosted by Vision Baptist Missions. This is a special camp dedicated to encouraging young people to do all they can to reach the world with the Gospel. We will be helping with various activities and I will be teaching one of the sessions as well. Please pray that God will not only use our family, but the entire team of missionaries present to encourage the next generation toward the Lord’s work.

The week following camp, we will be leading the 10-day missions trip to Japan. We are excited for this opportunity to be in Niigata, Nagaoka, and Tokyo. Please pray that the Lord will use this trip to raise up laborers for global evangelization.

Finally, please be praying for meetings and opportunities to present for the 2018 calendar year. Without your prayers and the Lord’s help, our work is in vain, so please pray that the Lord will touch hearts and open doors for us to present the work in Japan!

Yours for Japan,
The Miyashita Family

Click here for the PDF version of this prayer letter.

30 May, 2017

Weekly Update (5/30/17)

Dear Pastors and Prayer Partners,

There are quite a number of exciting things going on and we are excited to share them with you! Currently, we are away with the Vision Baptist Missions staff on the annual orientation for missionary training. We arrived yesterday, and the orientation will end on Friday. We are very thankful for staff and senior missionaries who invest in our lives to help us be effective in reaching our world with the Gospel. 

On Wednesday, the Lord kept us safe as we traveled to our meeting in North Carolina. Inclement weather turned a 3.5 hour drive into 5.5 hours, but we are very thankful that the Lord kept us safe. On Sunday, we were with two separate churches in Florida.  

We also heard from one new church that voted to start supporting the ministry, which we are excited about!

***

An interesting report has recently come out about the so called “well-being” of teenagers in Japan. You will find the news section to be of interest.  

 

Praise:
  • Safety travelling to meetings
  • One new supporting Church
Prayer Requests:
  • Meetings for 2018
  • Trip to Japan next month
From the News:
  • A recent study seems to indicate that the overall happiness of Japanese teenagers is lower than global averages. While bullying and lack of closeness in families are cited in this article, our desire is that one day many will know what a good relationship looks like based on their relationship with Jesus.

30 May, 2017

Weekly Update (5/30/17)

Dear Pastors and Prayer Partners,

There are quite a number of exciting things going on and we are excited to share them with you! Currently, we are away with the Vision Baptist Missions staff on the annual orientation for missionary training. We arrived yesterday, and the orientation will end on Friday. We are very thankful for staff and senior missionaries who invest in our lives to help us be effective in reaching our world with the Gospel. 

On Wednesday, the Lord kept us safe as we traveled to our meeting in North Carolina. Inclement weather turned a 3.5 hour drive into 5.5 hours, but we are very thankful that the Lord kept us safe. On Sunday, we were with two separate churches in Florida.  

We also heard from one new church that voted to start supporting the ministry, which we are excited about!

***

An interesting report has recently come out about the so called “well-being” of teenagers in Japan. You will find the news section to be of interest.  

 

Praise:
  • Safety travelling to meetings
  • One new supporting Church
Prayer Requests:
  • Meetings for 2018
  • Trip to Japan next month
From the News:
  • A recent study seems to indicate that the overall happiness of Japanese teenagers is lower than global averages. While bullying and lack of closeness in families are cited in this article, our desire is that one day many will know what a good relationship looks like based on their relationship with Jesus.