Orthodox Church in Japan
Orthodox Church in Japan
Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo
|Sui iuris church||Autonomous Orthodox Church within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate (the status of autonomy not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)|
|Established||10 April 1970 by the Moscow Patriarchate|
|Metropolitan of All Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo||Metropolitan Daniel (Nushiro)|
In July 1861, the young Russian Hieromonk, Nikolay Kassatkin (subsequently canonized and known as Nicholas of Japan), arrived in Hakodate to serve at the Consulate as a priest. He proved to be the first to learn the local language and customs to be able to spread Orthodox Christianity amongst the local populace. Though the shōgun's government at the time prohibited Japanese conversion to Christianity, some locals who frequented the chapel did convert in 1864. While they were his first converts in Japan, they were not the first Japanese to become Orthodox Christians: some Japanese who had settled in Russia had converted to Orthodox Christianity. On Kassatkin′s initiative, the Russian Imperial government established the Russian Spiritual Mission to Japan in 1870.
Kassatkin moved to Tokyo in 1872 and went on to stay in Japan most of the time until his death in 1912, even during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). He was consecrated bishop in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Saint Petersburg, the Russian Empire, in March 1880 (initially, his title was that of the auxiliary bishop of Reval; Archbishop of Tokyo and Japan since March 1906). Kassatkin travelled across Russia to collect funds for construction of the Orthodox Cathedral in Tokyo, which was inaugurated in Kanda district in 1891 and went on to be known after him as Nikorai-do. Nikolay Kassatkin made Japanese translations of the New Testament and some liturgical books (Lenten Triodion, Pentecostarion, Feast Services, Book of Psalms, Irmologion).
By the end of 1890, according to Kassatkin′s report, the Orthodox Church in Japan (the Russian Spiritual Mission to Japan) had 18,625 baptized faithful.
The Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) created a politically difficult situation for the Church. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, communications and the support from the Church in Russia (the USSR) were severely curtailed. The Japanese government had new suspicions about the Japanese Orthodox Church; in particular, that it was used by the Soviets as a cover for espionage. The second bishop of Japan (from 1912), Sergius (Sergii) Tikhomirov, who was one of a handful of Russian émigré bishops who remained loyal to the USSR-based Moscow Patriarchate (rather than the Kingdom of Yugoslavia-based ROCOR, which from the late 1920s automatically meant loyalty to the government of the USSR) suffered from such suspicions on the part of the Japanese government, and was forced to resign his position in September 1940.
The Great Kantō earthquake in 1923 did serious damage to the Japanese Orthodox Church. The headquarters, Nikorai-do, was destroyed and burnt, including its library with many valuable documents. Nikorai-do was rebuilt in 1929 thanks to contributions gathered from the faithful, whom metropolitan Sergius visited nationwide.
During the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), which from 1939 to 1945 was part of World War II, the Christians in Japan suffered severe conditions, the Orthodox Church especially. During the war the Japanese Orthodox Church had had almost no foreign contact. Following the surrender of Japan (August 1945), the occupation regime had a benevolent attitude toward Christian groups, given their predominantly American connections. As the majority of the Slavic- and Greek-Americans would attend local Orthodox Christian parishes and more Russian refugees began to arrive in Japan fleeing the Communist regime in China, the Orthodox Christian community in Japan was re-invigorated. In 1946, the precursor to the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the Metropolia (a de facto independent jurisdiction at the time), on the initiative of U.S. Army Colonel Boris Pash, took steps to prevent the Moscow Patriarchate from re-establishing its control over the Japanese Church despite the vigorous efforts the latter undertook to this end. The following year, the Japanese Church largely switched over under the Metropolia′s jurisdiction and would be governed by bishops sent from the U.S. by the Metroplia until March 1972. Several Japanese youths who would study at the Metroplia's Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, then in New York City, would subsequently become leaders (primates) of the Japanese Church.
As the Metroplia in the late 1960s gradually restored relations with the Moscow Patriarchate (whose external activity was fully controlled and guided by the Soviet government and specifically by the KGB) with a view to obtaining autocephaly (i. e. legitimate administrative independence), the Japanese Church was handed over to the Russian jurisdiction. On 10 April 1970, a few days prior to the death of Russian Patriarch Alexius I, Nikolay Kassatkin was canonised by the Moscow Patriarchate in a package deal of granting autocephaly to the OCA and re-establishing control over the Church of Japan. The act of granting autocephaly by the Moscow Patriarchate was strongly condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as violating canon law.
In 2005, the first Orthodox Christian monastic house (male) of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church was opened in Tokyo near Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Nikolai-do). The abbot of the monastic community, Hieromonk Gerasimus (Shevtsov) of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, was dispatched by the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patrirchate and arrived in Japan at the end of 2005.
Current administrative organization and statistics
The Orthodox Church in Japan has three dioceses:
- Tokyo Archdiocese (Tokyo: Archbishop Daniel Nushiro)
- Eastern Japan Diocese (Sendai: Bishop Seraphim Tsujie)
- Western Japan Diocese (Kyoto)
The Primate of the Orthodox Church in Japan is Daniel (Nushiro), Metropolitan of All Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo (since May 2000). Before becoming Archbishop of Tokyo and Metropolitan of all Japan, Daniel had been bishop of Kyoto and since 2001 he has been also in charge of the Kyoto diocese as locum tenens.
As of the end of 2014, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Culture of Japan, the Orthodox Church had a total of 67 parishes (communities), 37 clergymen, and 9,619 followers (registered members).
The Orthodox Church in Japan runs the Tokyo Orthodox Seminary. The seminary accepts only male faithfuls and gives a three-year theological education to those who expect to become ordained presbyters and missionaries. The Seminary also publishes a monthly journal, "Seikyo Jiho".
The Orthodox Church in Japan publishes religious books, including the Japanese Orthodox translation of the New Testament and Psalms and liturgical texts, available as texts alone or with musical scores. Its headquarters in Tokyo and local parishes publish brochures for the faithful looking for further religious education.
The Orthodox Church in Japan celebrates its liturgy in Japanese, and occasionally in other languages such as Church Slavonic or Greek. As many liturgical and Biblical texts were first translated into Japanese by Archbishop Nicolas and Nakai Tsugumaro, a Japanese Christian scholar of literary Chinese, their Japanese today reads archaically.
The liturgical style found in the community of the Orthodox Church in Japan remains influenced by that of the Church in late 19th-century Russia.
- Holy Resurrection Cathedral
- Christianity in Japan
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