Double Exposure Japan (photos of the week)

Why (and What’s) Manga?

If you’ve been keeping up with my newsletters and prayer updates, you know that I’m in the middle of transitioning from church-based English ministries to a more creative outreach focus. Specifically, I’m working towards creating a digital ministry platform centred around manga. Some of you may be wondering what that’s all about, so in this and some follow-up posts, I want to share some of the thinking behind this vision.
Manga is the Japanese word for comics. Comic magazines, comic strips, graphic novels, they’re all called manga in Japan. In English, the word is used to refer specifically to Japanese comics; and the fact that we need a separate word for them in English shows you that they must be pretty distinct from the typical style of comics we see published in the US or the rest of the west.
In reality, manga doesn’t refer to any one art style or genre. In fact, there’s something for everyone: From kids comics to very adult; from fantasy to slice-of-life; from action-adventure to romance. And really, that’s a big part of what sets manga apart from western comics. Though it’s changing, comics in the west have for a long time had a limited audience. In Japan, really, manga is for everyone. (This article gives a pretty good overview of the various popular styles)

And the continuing popularity of manga in Japan shows this. US comic sales pale in comparison to Japan. The most popular manga series in Japan, One Piece, sold about 12,314,326 copies between Nov 2015 and Nov. 2016. For comparison, the total number of sales for all graphic novels in the US in 2016 were 11,938,000. (Sources: Anime News Network //
According to Shinichiro Ishikawa, president of GDH, a Japanese animation studio: “There are still at least ten weekly manga magazines that sell thirty million units per week. On top of that, there are monthly magazines and comic books. In the U.S., the total annual comic market is fifty million units. In the span of one week, Japan does a full year’s worth of U.S. comic sales.” (Source: Japanamerica p.196)
Manga is a huge part of the publishing industry as a whole. As one article says, “The Japanese publishing market is one of the most vigorous in the world. How much market share does manga have? The gross sales from publishing in 2002 was 2.3 trillion yen. The total number of published materials including magazines was over 750 million. 22.6% of total sales, or 38.1% of published material sold in 2002 are of manga.” (Source)
All that to say, manga are a huge part of modern Japanese culture. Not only do the magazines and books sell like crazy, but many popular movies and TV shows, both animated and live-action, are adapted from manga. Many characters and their creators are household names. And like I said, there’s something for every taste.
So why use manga as a tool for sharing Jesus in Japan? Why not?

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The Mist (Photo of the Week)

Near the Kannonji Castle Ruins. January 2016.

New Year’s Video Update

Into the Woods (Photo of the Week)

Shot with my Holga toy camera back in January 2016

Photo of the Week: Japanese Tree House?

Jinai-machi in Tondabayashi, Osaka. May 2015

Big News From Japan (January Prayer Letter)

Happy New Year, everyone! 

The big news this month, as you may have guessed from the photo above, is that I’m getting married! 

Yoko has been attended my church in Nagoya for about a year and a half, and we became more than friends last summer. We ended 2018 on a high note by getting engaged on Christmas Eve, and hope to get married in the spring. In addition to all her other great qualities, Yoko loves Jesus, has a heart for missions and will be a great partner in ministry. We’d certainly appreciate your prayers as we plan and prepare for our wedding… and everything that comes after that.

In terms of ministry-related stuff, the first half of 2019 will be spent focusing on continuing to lay the foundation for our manga ministryand preparing to return to Canada this summer for Partnership Development(re-connecting with supporters back home). Please pray for God to lead, provide and open doors!

Thank you for your continuing prayers for me, the mission, and Japan!

– Robin

Merry Christmas from Japan

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to drop you all a quick note to wish you all a merry Christmas, and to say thanks. Thank you for your prayers, financial support and encouragement this year! I hope you all have a fun, refreshing holiday season, and I look forward to getting in touch again in the new year!

– Robin

Progress — December 2018 Prayer Letter

Sometimes progress looks like this…

And sometimes it looks like this…

The first photo features myself, fellow GP missionary Andrea Swarthout, and our our regional director Tim Gallant and his family. The Gallants visited Japan in November to meet with us and our Japanese partners as we work through the necessary changes that need to be made to move forward with some new ministries. I’m thankful for Tim’s leadership in our region and the progress we are making here in Japan.

The second picture is what’s left of the Immanuel Nagoya Church building… which is to say, nothing. But that’s a sign of progress, as the demolition of our old building has come to an end and construction of our new church home can begin in the new year.

Progress is also being made on my manga ministry project. I’ll have more to say in the new year, but for now, allow me to point you to our official project page on the GP website:

Please pray and consider giving to this new outreach!

Meanwhile, Advent is upon us and Christmas is almost here! Please pray for the Japanese Church to be effective in using the opportunity this season gives us to share the love of Jesus with our communities.

Specifically, here’s what I’ll be involved in this month:

  • 12/12 — Worship leading at prayer meeting
  • 12/16 — Our church’s Christmas Worship event
  • 12/20 — Celebrating Christmas and sharing Jesus with our kids English class

As always, thank you for your continuing prayers for our mission in Japan!

– Robin

Look Up (photo of the week)

Azuchi Castle Ruins, January 2016