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This is an American living in Japan. Our ward in Fukuoka has a lunch together after the three-hour block once a month. It is a fun activity.

As far as correlation, I remember about 10 years ago when a Bishop announced a couple of Church etiquette guidelines from the Area Presidency to put Japanese practices more in line with the American Church. In prayers in the morning, people often said "good morning!" to HF after the opening "dear Heavenly Father" salutation. The Bishop asked us to stop doing that. Also, at baptisms the people in the audiance often said a unison "congratulations" to a new convert immediately after they rose up out of the water. He asked us to stop doing that too. I thought it was too bad, it was nice to have those little Japanese-style cultural things to give the Church a slightly different flavor.

There are still differences. Some advice just never flies here, and people just take it as an "American thing". Things like saying "I love you" and showing affection more often. Japanese tend to be very private about showing affection. The idea of going on regular husband/wife dates is often usually ignored. And anything about teenage dating is pretty much treated as irrelevant.

It is fun to ask married couples if they publically kissed over the alter when they were sealed. The Sealer will often tell them that they may kiss (probably instructions from the Church), and it always makes for an awkward moment. I have seen Japanese sisters just profer their cheek for a kiss.

This is an American living in Afghanistan, formerly in the Bishopric in Fukuoka. In the church etiquette guidelines from ten years ago, we were also admonished to stop saying, "I'm about to pray" before praying. Whilst it was odd at sacrament, when everyone was already quiet, this phrase was quite helpful in Sunday School or other times when there was not an opening song right before the prayer. Although the phrase was a bit quaint, it had its place. After leaving Fukuoka, I started saying it (in Ghana, and in the US) when people were still talking when I from time to time was asked to give the opening prayer at a meeting. At my ward in Leavenworth (Kansas) the Sunday School teacher has a hard time getting the people to clear out to the hall from the back end of the chapel (they stop to talk before getting to the hall) so he can have the prayer to start Sunday School.

Speaking of eating together on Sunday after church, our branch in Yokosuka used to ride the train up to the temple in Tokyo and meet at a noodle shop either before or after an evening together at the temple. Again, a good way to get to know your fellow members over a hot bowl of ramen.

Wow. I don't see a thing wrong with any of the customs. I wonder if that Area Presidency will ask Saints in the islands to stop saying Aloha and responding that way. As far as saying Good Morning to God in a prayer, if that is what someone wants to say, and it comes from his/her heart, what is the problem? I often open my prayers by saying "we're happy to be here today." Perhaps I will be told not to say that either. FWIW, I recall that at the special FP service not long after 9/11, President Monson said "Let us pray," and then bowed his head and offered the opening prayer. In America, while people usually don't say this, there is an equivalent body language statement. The person stands at the podium, looks around to see if everyone has seated, and often times waits until people are situated and quiet and then prays. Anyway, I will get off of the soap box.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. We won't be getting to Fukuoka this trip -- maybe next time.

It's worth recalling that Jesus used the term "abba" in prayer to address God, the best English equivalent of which is "daddy." I'm sure the responsible area presidency would have directed him to change his prayer language as well, especially if the practice spread to others who associated with him.

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