Religious Life in Japan

Our family has been attending weekly Sunday mass at a local English Catholic church in Roppongi.  Below is a picture of the Franciscan Chapel Center.

This church is definitely different than our church in Toronto as most parishioners are transient. One of the customs during the mass is to welcome all new visitors, who are asked to stand up and indicate where they are from – it certainly is a United Nations of church-goers. Also, any parishioners who are leaving for good are asked to go forward to receive a special blessing and a “sayonara” gift from the priest. It is certainly a “spiritual home away from home”.

As Good Friday approaches (March 21), it has reminded me of one of the differences between life in Canada and Japan. My entire working career has been spent in Canada, where Good Friday is a holiday (along with Christmas). In Japan, Good Friday and Christmas are working days. International Assignees follow the local country holidays.  I certainly feel empowered to take the day off, but since I have client meetings that day, I will be working and will observe Good Friday in my own private way. This is my choice, as flexibility is an important aspect of our personal and working lives. As I have always said, work-life balance is a personal matter and is different for everyone.

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