009: Pilgrimage Recap – Nagasaki, Japan

Since I didn’t have a guest for this episode, I decided to recount some of my experiences going on a pilgrimage to Nagasaki, Japan. I wanted to learn more about St. Paul Miki and his Companions since they were martyred in Nagasaki.

Show highlights:

  • Re-intro to my podcast and what “En Fuego” means
  • Why Nagasaki
  • How I traveled to Nagasaki
  • What I did in Nagasaki
    • 26 Martyr’s Hill (monument, museum, and church)
    • Nakaramachi Church
    • St. Max Kolbe’s friary/Hongochi Church/Marian grotto
    • Atomic Bomb Museum
    • Memorial Peace Park
    • Urakami Cathedral
    • Inasayama
    • Oura Church
    • Glover Garden
  • Reflections on this pilgrimage

Show references:

Twitter: @jrenfuego
Instagram: jrenfuego
Facebook: facebook.com/jrenfuego


002: Catholic Art and Japan with John Andrew

In this episode, I chat with John Andrew on:

  • Art is a trap
  • Why he's in Japan
  • Evangelization through art
  • Stories from John Andrew's painting pilgrimage

Sounds like we've initiated a missionary effort. Please pray for us as we continue to marinate this idea of evangelization through art for Japan, and if you have some ideas–please let us know!

You can follow John Andrew and see more of his adventures in Japan at his Facebook page, Real Catholic Art.


Lessons From the Japanese Toll Booth Men


Gosh, it must’ve been my 5th or 6th trip to Japan when I started driving a rental car. For a first world country, their roads sure are backwards. Haha.

During my daily Japan commutes, I encountered toll booths four times a day. These toll booths usually have a quick pass through lane for those who have an “ETC” card, which is the equivalent of a toll tag or sticker for your car. The “ETC” card is an actual physical card that goes into a little module that can be installed in your Japanese vehicular device that gets read at toll booths in Japan. The other lanes at toll booths are actual manned toll booths. In Texas, where I’m from, even before our toll sticker days, toll booths were merely just large bins that you threw your change into to make the gate go up. And then DFW International Airport was really my only experience of interacting with a human being at such a kind of booth.

Japanese toll booth men. The unsung heroes of the transportation system as I know it. They’re the real MVPs. Quite honestly, they’re one of the best parts of my day when I spent all those days in Japan.

They’re freakin’ awesome and here’s why:

Gratuitous Enthusiasm

Imagine this. I’m still tired because my hotel Executive Lounge coffee to go hasn’t yet kicked in so I’m driving through Japanese streets in a bit of a hazy (but still competent) daze. When I pull up to the toll booth before entering the highway, I roll down my window, and I’m met with a boisterous “OHAYO GOZAIMASU!!!! Nana hyaku nana juu en onegai shimasu!!!!”, which means “GOOD MORNING! 770 yen please!”, from the toll booth man. I hand him a Noguchi (1000 yen note (that’s the guy on the bill), because USD Hamilton’s don’t work here), and he enthusiastically says “SEN EN–CHOTTO MATTE KUDASAI!!” (“1000 yen, please wait!”). I receive my receipt. I thank him. He yells “DOMO!!!” at me (also a form of “Thank you!”. And I’m on way.

Classic Japanese Pride In Work

Knowing, experiencing, and observing the Japanese and their penchant for hard work, I can just tell that the Japanese toll booth men do take great pride in their work. From an American perspective, their job seems really simple and mundane. But still I can appreciate that they strive to do their simple job well and with great pride even though their job looks simple and mundane to me.


I went through tolls 20 times a week, and for the most part, each toll booth encounter was met with consistent enthusiasm and pride. Like, I can’t think of an instance of a bad example. That’s pretty awesome.

I’m inspired by the Japanese toll booth men by their joyful enthusiasm and pride in work. I want what they have. And I want to try to incorporate a little more enthusiasm and pride in the work that I do even if it’s not necessarily the most exciting at times.

Japanese toll booth men. Life. Changing.

Here’s to them! Kanpai!



Japanese toll booth // Taking Flights

Lettuce Do Our Best // Spreadshirt

Kanpai! // Gaijin Chronicles


An Example of Catholic and Filipino Hospitality

During my seventh trip to Japan this year (and at the time of this writing, my most recent trip), I went to Mass on a Saturday evening on my last weekend for this trip. I elected to go Saturday evening knowing that I had to go to work the following day, Sunday. This particular Catholic church has a fairly strong Filipino presence, most likely because one of their priests is Filipino (the other is Australian!). It’s pretty small, but then again my home parish is huge.

Because I’m in the middle of renewing my Total Consecration to Jesus (through Mary), I brought my book with me to Mass with the intent of going through the day’s prayers and reflections after Mass. So I did. Continue reading “An Example of Catholic and Filipino Hospitality”