Just one more day in Japan. Here’s some thoughts from earlier in the trip.

I present to you three pictures that represent Japan. They were taken near Matsumoto Castle, a truly amazing building. In one, you see a little piece of rope or something amidst the beams supporting the roof at the very top of the castle. According to a description in the same room (which makes up the entire sixth floor):

“Lowered from the ceiling, the goddess of nijiroku-yashin is enshrined. There is a legend connected to the goddess. On the night of January 26, 1618, in a vision, one of the young vassals on duty saw a women dressed in beautiful clothes. Handing him a brocade bag, she said, ‘If the lord of the castle enshrines me with 500 kg of rice on the 26th night of every month, I will protect the castle from fire and enemy.’ It is believed that because the bag was deified, the castle was preserved and has survived to be the oldest castle in its original form.”

That little thing is a shrine to the goddess. It was a bit hard to see, because it was so high in the rafters. Houses in Japan have some kind of charm in the rafters that’s supposed to protect the house, and generally a Shinto priest will bless the house when it is built. I don’t know what percentage of houses have these charms, but usually they’re hidden (often above the indoor ceiling but beneath the outdoor roof).

The spiritual strongholds in Japan work something like this. They’re hidden and hard to see, but the Enemy’s power is right there, hovering at the top. You may suddenly find your church divided and wonder how this happened. That’s because in Japan (similar to America), demons are really good at being sneaky. This isn’t Africa, where witch doctors hold animistic societies in a state of terror.

I spent a little while sitting at the top of the castle and praying for Japan. Most people passed through quickly, but I sat and enjoyed the view and the refreshing breeze. As Matsumoto castle is so well preserved, my back rested against a (potentially) 400-year-old beam of wood. The cool breeze felt spectacular. The windows opened to north, south, east, and west, so I prayed a blessing in each direction over Japan.

From there, I took a picture of Japan through the windows of the castle. At the very bottom, you can see the roof of another tower of the castle, rising as a representation of the old feudal system, which still drastically affects this culture and particularly its attitudes towards Christianity. Beyond that, the stunning fall colors of trees intermix with modern Japan’s houses and buildings. This captures both the beauty and the mass-produced visage of this nation. Far away, the forested mountains rise over everything as a reminder that God has a purpose and plan for Japan, and that purpose and plan is good, and it has not changed.

Yet, despite all this beauty, a spiritual bondage holds this nation captive.

The third picture is much like the second, but the prison of the old feudal system has vanished, leaving the beauty of God’s purposes for this nation.Again, I ask: will you pray the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into the field?