Cover of Jesus Loves Japan by Suma Ikeuchi
Jesus Loves Japan
Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in a Brazilian Diaspora
Suma Ikeuchi


256 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503607965
Paperback ISBN: 9781503609341
Ebook ISBN: 9781503609358

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Winner of the 2020 Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize, sponsored by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) - Society for East Asian Anthropology.

After the introduction of the "long-term resident" visa, the mass-migration of Nikkeis (Japanese Brazilians) has led to roughly 190,000 Brazilian nationals living in Japan. While the ancestry-based visa confers Nikkeis' right to settlement virtually as a right of blood, their ethnic ambiguity and working-class profile often prevent them from feeling at home in their supposed ethnic homeland. In response, many have converted to Pentecostalism, reflecting the explosive trend across Latin America since the 1970s. Jesus Loves Japan offers a rare window into lives at the crossroads of return migration and global Pentecostalism. Suma Ikeuchi argues that charismatic Christianity appeals to Nikkei migrants as a "third culture"—one that transcends ethno-national boundaries and offers a way out of a reality marked by stagnant national indifference. Jesus Loves Japan insightfully describes the political process of homecoming through the lens of religion, and the ubiquitous figure of the migrant as the pilgrim of a transnational future.

About the author

Suma Ikeuchi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

"Transnational migrants find spiritual sustenance in Suma Ikeuchi's careful, sensitive ethnography. In showing how Pentecostalism grants meaning to a bleak existence, Ikeuchi opens new vistas in our understanding of Japanese Brazilians residing in Japan. She offers fresh insights to all interested in identity puzzles, self-making, religious conversion, and global movement."

—Daniel T. Linger, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

"Suma Ikeuchi's nuanced fieldwork among Japanese Brazilians (Nikkei) employed in Japan exposes the flawed hemato-logic of government and corporate officials who believed that ancestry ('blood') alone would make Nikkei more assimilable than other foreign guest workers. This book demonstrates the primacy of culture over 'blood' as a cipher for ethnicity."

—Jennifer Robertson, author of Robo Sapiens Japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family, and the Japanese Nation (2018)

"This is a remarkable book about a remarkable situation. Through wonderfully vivid ethnography, Ikeuchi documents the lives of Brazilian Pentecostal converts in Japan as they negotiate identities as migrants, homecomers, pilgrims, and believers. In the process, the book becomes an anthropological meditation on time, belonging, sincerity, and the multiple meanings of making connections through blood."

—Simon Coleman, Chancellor Jackman Professor, University of Toronto

"Focusing on the migration of Nikkei between Brazil and Japan, Suma Ikeuchi's brilliant ethnographic work shows how the Japan that Nikkei Pentecostals believe Jesus loves, a thoroughly hybridized one (biologically, culturally, and nationally), is not only befitting of and appropriate to the many tongues uttered by those transnational devotees, but is also consistent with the fluidity and plasticity of the emerging postmodern era. Pentecostalism, a movement depicted historically as a premodern spirituality bubbling up amid and in resistance to modernity's so-called iron cage of rationality, thus remains, through this anthropological study, a viable symbolic frame more than a century later and under drastically different social conditions."

—Amos Yong, Professor of Theology & Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Jesus Loves Japan is a fascinating study of the roles played by religion in a diasporic community....In this remarkably well-researched and well-written monograph, Ikeuchi introduces readers to the little-known Nikkei Brazilian Pentecostals and unpacks the never-ending process of subject-making of a diasporic group that is simultaneously spatial and moral."

—Taku Suzuki, The Journal of Asian Studies

"Jesus Loves Japan exhibits a fine balance between historical narration, theoretical reflection, observation of place and setting, and first-person commentary from the informants and from the author herself....Ikeuchi comments that 'ethnography illustrates the particular to illuminate the universal.' In accomplishing this aim, Jesus Loves Japan is a brilliant success."

—Michael McClymond, Pneuma

"Jesus Loves Japan is an exemplary work of new scholarship....This is an eminently readable book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it should be welcomed by readers interested in the productive intersections between religion and migration in a globalized world."

—Joshua Tan, Reading Religion

"Suma Ikeuchi presents a compelling case study of a diaspora community trapped between cultures....Jesus Loves Japan is an excellent ethnographic work that proves useful to a wide variety of readers."

—Timothy Smith, Nova Religio

"[Jesus Loves Japan] provides some thought-provoking and unexpected conclusions which warrant serious consideration both from the points of view of religious studies scholarship and legislation. It is a recommended text to readers of religious studies on any level who wish to find out more about the workings of Christianity in East Asia and Japan."

—Lehel Balogh, Religious Studies Review

"Ikeuchi has produced, as far as I know, one of the most complete and perceptive ethnographies made about a single religious Brazilian group in Japan."

—Rafael Shoji, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"This book is a welcome addition to the literature, since the religious lives of Nikkei Brazilians in Japan remains a relatively unexplored topic. As an anthropologist, Ikeuchi conducted extensive fieldwork and skillfully employs a wealth of ethnographic observations and interviews while drawing conceptual and theoretical insights from anthropology and religious studies. As a result, I consider this the best book on Nikkei Brazilian migrants in Japan that I have read."

—Takeyuki Tsuda, Pacific Affairs