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HUMILITY & THE JAPANESE CULTURE

What is humility in your own words? According to Google, humility means: " a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness." In other words, how humble you are is based on how you measure your own importance - and it's usually a low view. 


This worldly view of humility must make our Loving Heavenly Father so sad. We are divine beings! We are literal spirit sons and daughters of God. Our worth cannot be measured! Sometimes, we may feel we are so incompetent and that we are nothing. Compared to God, this may be; however, how God sees us is not so. He personally says, "...the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). 


In the Japanese culture, being "humble" (the worldly view) is a big part of society and in interaction with others. For example, if someone says "You look so cute today!" it's considered polite to say, "No no! I don't think so!" If someone replies "thank you," to the compliment, they are considered boastful or even prideful. On my mission in Japan, I often caught myself degrading myself to seem polite, or humble when complimented. One day, when reading the Preach My Gospel, I learned that true humility is the complete opposite of what I was saying! From that day on, I was much more careful about how I view myself and how I receive compliments. 




In Preach My Gospel chapter 6 (Christlike attributes) under humility, it says: "Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgment of your constant need for His divine help." I especially liked the part where it talks about humble people have gratitude for His blessings. I realized that my body, my talents, and my experience are all gifts from God, and having a low view of them is showing ingratitude toward God. When I embrace myself and accept all compliments for everything God has given me, I am glorifying my Father who is in Heaven (3 Ne 12:16)!! 


I love the example in Alma 26 in the Book of Mormon. This is when the sons of Mosiah just finished a very dramatic but successful mission among the Lamanites. They have converted thousands of Lamanites during this mission! Ammon, being overjoyed, exclaims that because of their efforts, they were able to see so many miracles and bring so many people unto repentance. Aaron, Ammon’s brother, warns him that he is being prideful. He says, “Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.” In response, Ammon says: “ I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” I love how Ammon did not deny that they were instruments in God’s hands, but he gave all the credit and honor to the Lord. For without him, the miracles they’ve seen would have not been possible. 


I know that humility is our way of showing gratitude towards God, and becoming more like the Savior. Being humble, in the true meaning, brings us greater joy as we are acknowledging who we are: children of a loving Heavenly Father.


Article written by Jessica Kakegawa


Jessica Kakegawa

Jessica has an Utahn father and a Japanese mother. She was born in the States but moved to Japan soon after and has lived in Japan for a total of 10 years. She comes from a unique cultural background having two cultures in her home. She served her mission in Tokyo, Japan and married one of the Japanese elders she served with. She currently works at the Missionary Training Center as a Native Japanese Teacher and also goes to Utah Valley University to study Mathematics Education. She has a great passion for missionary work and loves teaching people of the joy that the gospel brings. She has a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and could talk about it all day. She has a strong sense of optimism that comes through her knowledge and testimony of who God is, and her relationship with the Savior.

@kakejes8