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Serving and exploring in Nagasaki

Hello, my name is Nathaniel Tobias Miller, but I would prefer to go by ネイト or Neito, but for your English speakers Nate would probably be most familiar.

The place to begin would ordinarily be the beginning, but really that would be a rather long tale to tell in detail. Allow me instead to give a picture of sorts, or an overview. By happenstance or rather providence a book found its way to me by roundabout fashion, its title: The Samurai. From its pages flew forth a spark of interest onto a forest of kindling, I searched out and studied all that I could around Japanese history and culture, I became a Baku of sorts, in that I was a beast of particular taste. Time passed, as time does, and a decade later I found that my interest had not faded, but rather remained and had grown after my studies of the Japanese language. I longed to go, to know why God had given me such a hunger for Japan as had seized at me for so long, and to discover if all that I knew by study were true.

Enter the Tsukayamas.
I had just graduated, and while my mother was always praying for an opportunity for missions in Japan for me I was hesitant to ask myself, always with the excuse that I was in college, and much too busy and financially burdened to simply up and leave for who knows how long across the sea. Well this excuse had now fled from me, and I in the midst of facing my future asked God that if it were his will, to show clearly a path to serve. The very next day my father tells me he has been advised to reach out to the Tsukayamas, who’s youngest daughter we had been in prayer for just a year prior.

These tenuous threads of connection the Lord wove together, and after a short period of correspondence it was arranged that I would travel to Nagayo, Nagasaki, where for the first time in the city’s long-spanning history a protestant church is being built. God has led the Tsukayamas on a long path to Nagayo, and that path has shaped them in many ways to allow them to serve there well. The church building is important as a shell, as a starting point, from which their ministry can grow further than it already has. I feel it was a privilege to go and serve with them by reaching out to the community in whatever ways were needed.

The seedbed so long sown and watered by the blood and tears of the martyrs may at last be near to harvest, and I pray that in my lifetime it shall be so. I cannot say I pray for a revival, as the Lord’s followers have been at the best of seasons a small few when compared to the whole of the population. Rather I pray for a surge of faith in Christ hitherto unseen in Japan, and I hope against hope that Nagasaki will be a spearhead cutting through satan’s long stranglehold on this country I so love.

There is much to do, there is much being done, and to join in this effort is a delight to all who serve here. A haiku I have wrote long ago is brought to my mind in this moment of reflection:

The mountain is tall
Though no end is seen, we climb
The Heavens await.

If you have chosen to come, then we may move on to the practicalities of the trip that awaits.

Travel Preparations:
There is a Covid testing policy in place for any traveling into Japan that will require you to have the evidence of a negative test received within 72 hours before departure. I suggest also getting this evidence printed as well as digitally, just in case.

If you know enough Japanese to communicate that would be very helpful, so if possible I would suggest learning some basic terms and requests before you leave. Also, learning how to read the Katakana alphabet would be very helpful, as this is the alphabet used for most foreign words, and will prove useful even if you have not studied enough Kanji to read most anything else (Despite my studies, I found that it was pretty impossible to read most of the signs and instructions).

I would recommend buying your tickets from an airline like JAL directly rather than using a website to find the cheapest flights, as there are a lot of scammers on those sites trolling for victims by undercutting the lowest average price with their fake tickets.

If your internet carrier does not do international coverage I would suggest looking up your phone to see whether it is an “unlocked phone”. If you look it up online it should be rather easy to find that out. An unlocked phone is one that has the ability to quickly remove and replace the sim card yourself. If your phone is unlocked and international coverage is either expensive or not an option with your carrier, then there is a company named ‘Mobal’ that sells temporary sim cards that will allow you to access the internet while on the go, and allows you to receive call and text. It costs more the longer you stay, but it was far cheaper than the cost of international coverage with my internet provider. They ship worldwide, so I would suggest ordering a week out at least given the shipping time varies.

In regards to wifi, you will likely find that most/ many businesses and open spaces have a free wifi you can access while you are there, making it pretty easy to get around even without internet coverage.

I would also suggest downloading the social app ‘Line’, as that is the app used by most people in Japan. Though many also have Instagram, Line is more convenient and ubiquitous in my opinion.

In order to use your card without your bank freezing your card, I would recommend contacting the customer support of your bank’s local branch and let them know that you will be traveling. If you do it will likely be easier to use your card right away. You may still get a purchase denied but likely it will be easier to clear up any misunderstanding. After you arrive I would suggest making a withdraw of about 二千円 (20,000 Yen), as there are many restaurants and shops that will only use cash. Though for the most part you should be able to get by with your card, it is also better to use cash as often you will be charged a processing fee on each overseas purchase with your card. Also, having change is necessary to use either the trams or train.

It is hard to know what exactly to pack, seeing as temperature tolerances vary… As an Arizonian I was quite cold much of the time, but I suppose that will change depending on your personal temperature tolerance. One thing to consider is that rooms are heated individually due to a lack of central heating in most Japanese housing. This being the case, it is likely that you will find that you will want to wear a coat or a jacket inside, and your bedtime wear may need to be slightly warmer; though once again, this all depends, and given that we are moving out of the winter, it may be that you will need to pack in order to prepare for warmer weather.

Shoes are almost always removed when entering into a house, so you may wish to wear shoes with are easier to remove and don.

Arrival and beyond:
When traveling to Nagasaki, it is likely that you will be making a connecting stop in Tokyo. It is at this stop that you will be required to go through Japan’s customs and declare the intentions of your trip. I put “Missionary”, and found that I had to explain what a missionary was to the examiner as best I could.
There will also be a digital form to fill out, though there will be a station with many people to help you through this process.
There are many English signs throughout the airport, which make it somewhat easier to find your way. After going through security checks and collecting your luggage you will need to find a shuttle to the domestic flight terminal. To do this, I would suggest finding an employee who will help you. Many of the employees at the airport speak some level of English, and even if they are not fluent it is likely one will be able to help you with finding your gate. Keep your tickets handy, as you will be asked for them several times throughout the airport.

If you are not totally exhausted when you arrive in Nagasaki airport, there are a lot of fun souvenir shops there. It is actually one of the better places to find Nagasaki-themed souvenirs, but perhaps when you leave it would be a better time to find some souvenirs if you are looking for them.

If you do not wish to be forced to carry exactly 百四十円 (140 yen) in change every time you ride the tram or more for the train, I would also suggest getting an IC card from Urakami or Nagasaki Station. If you ask the front counter they will walk you through the process. The card comes preloaded with the same amount of yen as it cost to buy it, meaning it is ready to use right away.

If you would like to learn some Japanese while you are there, there is a weekly class at the Nagasaki Brick Hall that I would highly recommend. It is free, unless you choose to buy their textbooks, which are reasonably priced.

Finally, if you are lost or need help feel free to ask strangers for help. It is totally unpredictable how much English anyone speaks, but likely most people have some limited English vocabulary, and if one person cannot help, another will.

Sights to See:
I would recommend the museum of 26 martyrs. It really does a good job of giving an overview of the history of Christianity in Nagasaki.

If you want to explore and go shopping, I would recommend hopping aboard the tram till Hamanomachi (or Hamamachi), and exploring the many shops and restaurants you find there.

Cocowalk as a mall is also fun, and rather good for fun on a rainy day.

There are many other locations that you may want to see, such as Peace Park, the Atomic Bomb Museum, or Oura Cathedral.

I would recommend highly traveling to the top of Inasa-yama. It has a great view of the whole city at night, and an amazing sunset over the sea.

Hope this is of aid to you in your travels, friend!