Smiles From Japan

Witch Shinto And Jewish Friends Have Christian Enthusiasts Call Upon Them


We were living in the Japanese countryside, surrounded by rice paddies on all sides. The city of Nagoya was an hour away by the efficient subway system.

Nothing could be heard but birds chirping and the sweet breezes ruffling the leaves. It was persimmon season, and I was peeling some, while my two friends were washing rice and preparing fish for lunch.

There came a knock on the door. It was such a rare occurrence to have anyone visit us in this remote area, that we all three went to answer the door. I must pause here to give you a little background about us.

Jon is a Jewish man with a sparkling sense of humor, always laughing, seemingly never without his whoopee cushion, and probably the best dressed man that Nagoya has ever seen.

His beautiful bride is Japanese, and holds to her Shinto beliefs, like many Japanese, she claims not to be religious.

However, during the entire time that I lived with them, { 6 months } we seemed to spend a GREAT deal of time visiting shrines and temples which I thoroughly enjoyed.

She was a wealth of information. One day she answered one of my questions about Shinto prayers, they hold their hands flat and together, in the same traditional way that Christians do here in the West.

To the Shintoists, the left hand represents the past, the right hand is the future, and they come together to pray in the present, a kind of balance of polarity. I was always pleased to learn all that I could from her.

You see, I am a witch, living in Toronto. In my spare time I study ancient history and the worship of different pantheons of Gods and Goddesses.

I have been studying for years and came to Japan to learn more about their venerated traditions, and the wonderful people living those traditions.

To return to the story at hand after answering the door, we were faced by two pretty Japanese women, with their eyes bugging out at us.

Jon and I have become used to being stared at everywhere we go, especially in these more remote areas.

Finally, one of the ladies managed to blurt out in Japanese, " Are you Christians, do you love Jesus ? " They cast their eyes down in a typically shy Japanese way. After hearing the translations, we all five started giggling.

They, because they felt sure that Jon and I must be Christians, and of course, we knew that we were not.

Somehow, we managed to translate that we were Shinto, Jewish, and a Pagan witch.

They were at a loss for words. I feel certain that I must have been the only witch in Japan at the time, and we hadn't heard of any other Jews.

Of course, Shinto { Called the way of the Gods } is the national religion of Japan. They stared at Jon and I and asked for explanations.

I explained that Witchcraft was not unlike Shinto in that we too honored nature and its forces through worship, including a mother earth and a father sky; that it is a fertility religion having nothing to do with the Christian devil.

Jon then spoke of being Jewish. After much bowing, { the Japanese bow constantly to honor the person to whom they are speaking } they thanked us for our time and went giggling away.

Over their shoulders, on the breeze, we could just barely hear " Henna Gaigin " which means: Crazy foreigners !!!

We couldn't help but smile, it's one of my favorite memories of Japan.

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