The Jesus film is the most viewed and translated film in history! Hundreds of missions worldwide make use of this wonderful tool to communicate the gospel. To learn more about the film see the Jesus Film Project website directly. You can view Jesus online too!
On this page I will report on what God has used us to do with the Jesus film in Japan.
Up until the beginning of 1996, we had one translation of the Jesus film in Japanese, made in 1982, and available in 16mm film for group showings, and in video. While the film was used in many small group settings, Japanese did not turn out in large numbers for film showings, as happens in other countries. The video was produced and packaged in Japan, which was expensive, and so the video sold for 6000 yen in Christian bookstores (about $55). Needless to say it was not a very well used tool! So this was one of my first challenges, how to make this more user-friendly for Christians in Japan.
An essential strategy was to get the video produced overseas, and then imported into Japan, at a better price than producing them in Japan. We turned to Korea to help with this. Through their assistance and good exchange rates we are able to offer the video for sale at 1980 yen a copy (about $19). In addition, we are able to offer box lots of the videos to missions who distribute them evangelistically for an effective rate of 600 yen per video. That has helped make the video a more affordable strategy for Christians who want to help friends and family learn more about Jesus!
During 1996 and 1997 work was carried out to re-translate and re-dub the Jesus video in Japanese, using simpler, easier to understand language and a complete re-mastering of the film for digital stereo.
In 1998 a new cover design made the video package more attractive to Japanese. The digitally shortened 84 minute version was also made available. A special Soccer version of the video was translated that
included well-known (in Japan) soccer players’ testimonies. The audio version of “The Story of Jesus” was also translated into Japanese, using not only the voices from the film, but also a narrator voice and radio drama style music and background effects.
During the summer of 1998 these two video versions and audio tapes were distributed along with gospel tracts to homes in towns and villages without a church in the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, Kyushu. Approximately 750 short term workers and Japanese volunteers distributed over 300,000 audios and tracts, giving away over 6000 videos personally as they met people. Over 800 people contacted the follow up office to ask for their own video as well. The cooperation with about 60 local Japanese churches and their fellowship with the short term workers was wonderful!
At Christmas 1998 we made a small test package with the 84 minute version in a Christmas box with a Christmas tract in it. The 1000 copies we made quickly sold out just by word of mouth and email notices! So in December 1999 we hosted a joint project with the Japan Evangelical Missions Association (JEMA) to give the gift of a Christmas Jesus video to friends and family of Christians. This resulted in 85,000 videos being personally given out by Japanese
During 1999 through summer projects from many countries, over 300,000 audios and tracts and many thousands of videos were distributed in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Many local churches cooperated in helping many of the thousands of people passing through major train station areas to hear the gospel.
1999 saw the first TV broadcast of the Jesus film in Japan, on TV Kanagawa, a large station covering the south side of Tokyo. They had two showings, one in August and one in December, which exposed 12 million people to the gospel! Praise God!
This year 2000 has seen over 600 more short term workers come and touch towns and villages all over central Japan in the same way. Love Japan 2000 has been a very helpful and effective way to bring the gospel to many Japanese who would otherwise not likely hear it. It has also built good relationships between Japanese churches and overseas churches.
Now we have seen the long-prayed for request of having the Jesus film on TV in Japan fulfilled by God’s grace. At Christmas 2000 in the few days before Christmas a chain of 28 regional TV stations.
To see an image of the Jesus Video advertisement that was in two major train lines in Tokyo during December 2000, please click here. and one national satellite station have shown the Jesus film (first nationwide broadcast by a Japanese satellite station. Another 5 million viewers are estimated to have seen the life of Jesus and many thousands we trust have reached out for the follow up available through phone, mail or internet, to learn how they may know Christ personally and get connected with a local church. Advertisements were placed in various train lines. About 20 to 30 requests for the videos were received daily by our office because of the advertisements! Some stations showed the Tribute version, where many dignitaries, athletes and entertainers gave personal tributes to Jesus on the 2000 anniversary of his birth. Others showed the regular film without the tributes. It was not on “prime time” hours, but it was shown at times when many business men come home and watch for a while, and over the weekend, so this helped in the viewer numbers.
During 2001 the translation of the Jesus for Children version was completed, and this was also used for the Christmas video project for 2001, so that nearly 10,000 copies have been sent out to help reach children with the good news.
In late July and early August 2002 the Jesus film was shown in Ikebukuro and Shibuya theaters in Tokyo. In preparation for the first showing of the Jesus film in major theaters in Japan (the old version has been shown in smaller theaters and churches for many years already), a promotional website and other advertising were prepared to help Japanese consider why they would want to see a documentary on the life of Christ. The J-Project website was open with a series of messages in sound and images to help people think about their lives and how their lives need the change that Jesus brings! There were over 40,000 visitors. About 1700 people saw the film in the downtown theater showing over 3 weeks. The film was also shown in 2 other locations within a few month, and about 400 more viewers saw the film.
During the summer of 2002 there were also Soccer World Cup 2002 outreaches involving JCCC, Southern Baptists and YWAM in a networked effort that helped organize pastor committees in 10 cities around Japan. Over 700 special project team members helped distribute 150,000 special commemorative Soccer Jesus video CDs, with player comments, including the first Japanese Christian players video testimony on the CD and related website, www.goal2002soccer.com.
Plans for more advertising and promotion of the DVD, a wedding version for use in Japanese wedding chapels and further special projects are all planned to help reach more lives with the gospel of Luke on film. Praise God for all He has done!
A website to assist Japanese who have viewed the film or heard the audio and want more information has been created. It contains information on the characters, a documentary video on the film, and additional articles about Jesus. www.jesuseiga.com
Available Materials in Japanese
The Jesus Film is available in video, DVD, and special seasonal and promotional packages. The version for children, Jesus For Children, is available in video. The Story of Jesus, an audio adaptation, is available in CD. For ordering from Japan CCC, please see the JCCC materials site.