Thinking about Japan this week caused my mind to venture back about four years ago when I was in a book club. We read Silence by Shusaku Endo. It was a book that really made me think - on many levels - intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.
To keep from reinventing the wheel, here's an exerpt from Amazon's webpage (that says it's from Wikipedia). I've bolded the main part.
Silence (沈黙, Chinmoku?) is a 1966 novel of historical fiction by Japanese author Shusaku Endo. It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to seventeenth century Japan, who endured persecution in the time of Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") that followed the defeat of the Shimabara Rebellion. The recipient of the 1966 Tanizaki Prize, it has been called "Endo’s supreme achievement" and "one of the twentieth century’s finest novels". Written partly in the form of a letter by its central character, the theme of a silent God who accompanies a believer in adversity was greatly influenced by the Catholic Endo's experience of religious discrimination in Japan, racism in France and debilitating tuberculosis.