School of Music


Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)


James Siddons


Japan, Ethnomusicology, Worship, Contextualization, Engagement, Music


Missions and World Christianity | Music


This thesis addresses the current cultural engagement done by the Japanese church, with particular attention given to music and the arts. Japan has hosted Christian missionaries for over five centuries and yet most of the population do not claim the religion as their own. Much research has been devoted to understanding the history of Christianity in Japan and the relationship between Japanese Christians and non-Christian Japanese culture. However, very little research has been done on the interactions between Japanese Christians and music and art specifically. This thesis, therefore, is dedicated to discovering how Japanese Christians are currently engaging with music and the arts, whether their interactions with these elements of culture affect worship, evangelism, and discipleship, and if Japanese churches have continued their historical cultural engagement practices of isolation or syncretism. This study is important for academia as well as for Christian missionaries. It discusses a topic that is under-researched. It can be used as a tool for Christians, both Japanese and foreign, to educate themselves on how the Japanese church is currently operating, and it can also serve as inspiration for new forms of evangelism and church ministry. The main research question of this thesis is, “What is the current state of cultural interaction, particularly regarding music and the arts, between Japanese churches and non-Christian Japan?” The answer to this question, and consequent sub-questions, was found in data gathered through online surveys, Zoom interviews, and virtual observations. All research was conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions between America and Japan. The information gathered in this thesis is useful for those interested in Japan’s culture and religions as well as those who are involved in Christian ministry in Japan.