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Japanese Orthodox Church
日本ハリストス正教会
Nikolai-do.jpg
Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo
Jurisdiction Russian Orthodox Church
Diocese type Autonomous church of Eastern Orthodoxy under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Founded July 2, 1861 by St. Nicholas of Japan
Current Bishop Metropolitan Daniel (Nushiro) of All Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo.
See Tokyo
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Territory  Japan
Language Japanese
Population 25,000 estimated
Website http://www.orthodoxjapan.jp/

The Japanese Orthodox Church (日本ハリストス正教会) is an autonomous church of Eastern Orthodoxy under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Contents

History

St. Nicholas of Japan (baptized as Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin) brought Eastern Orthodoxy to Japan in the 19th century.[1] In 1861 he was sent by the Russian Orthodox Church to Hakodate, Hokkaidō as a priest to a chapel of the Russian Consulate.[2 ]. Though the contemporary Shogun's government prohibited the Japanese conversion to Christianity, soon some neighbors who frequently visited the chapel converted in 1864[3]—Nikolai's first three converts in Japan. While they were his first converts in Japan, they were not the first Japanese to do so—some Japanese who had settled in Russia had converted to Orthodoxy.

Apart from brief trips, Nicholas stayed in Japan, even during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), and spread Eastern Orthodoxy nationwide, being appointed as the first bishop of Japanese Orthodox Church. He moved his headquarter from Hakodate to Tokyo around 1863. In 1886 the Japanese Orthodox Church had over 10,000 baptized faithful[4]. In 1891 Nicholas founded the Cathedral of Tokyo in Kanda district and spent the majority of the last half of his life there, hence Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral was nicknamed Nikorai-do by Kanda citizens.

St. Nicholas of Japan is also known for his own translation of New Testament and some other religious books (Lenten Triodion, Pentecostarion, Feast Services, Book of Psalms, Irmologion).[5]

The early mission to establish the Japanese Orthodox Church depended on the Russian Orthodox Church, especially in financial matters. The war between Russia and Japan created a politically difficult situation for the church. After the Russian Revolution, the support and communications both spiritual and financial from the Russian Church were unexpected[6]. The Japanese government had new suspicions about the Japanese Orthodox Church; in particular, that it was used as a cover for communist Russian espionage. The second bishop of Japan, Metropolitan Sergius (Tikhomirov), called Sergii by the Japanese, suffered severely from such governmental suspicion, and he was forced to resign his episcopacy. The Russian Church similarly suffered from Stalinist policy and had no ability to help the young church in Japan.

The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 did serious damage to the Japanese Orthodox Church. The headquarters, Nikorai-do, was destroyed and burnt, including the library, along with many valuable documents. Nikorai-do was rebuilt in 1929 thanks to contributions by the faithful which Metropolitan Sergius gathered, visiting them nationwide[7].

During the Fifteen Years War (1930–1945), which from 1939 to 1945 was part of World War II, Christianity in Japan suffered severe conditions, the Orthodox Church especially. After the Japanese surrender, the Allied occupation had a generous attitude to Christianity, given its predominantly American composition. As the majority of the Slavic- and Greek-Americans would attend local Orthodox parishes, Orthodoxy in Japan took a step forward. During the war, the Japanese Orthodox Church had almost no foreign contact. After the war, instead of the Russian Church, the precursors of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) helped re-invigorate the Japanese Orthodox Church. Japanese Orthodox Church was governed by bishops from OCA[2 ] and several youths who studied at the OCA's Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, then in New York City, are now the leaders of the Japanese Orthodox Church.

Annunciation Cathedral in Kyoto

Later, as the situation of the Russian Orthodox Church improved, the Japanese Orthodox Church came under their leadership again[2 ]. In 1970 Nikolai Kasatkin was glorified by the Patriarch of Moscow and is recognized as St. Nicholas, Apostle to Japan. His commemoration day is February 16. In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Bishop Andronic Nikolsky as a Saint and Martyr who was appointed to the first Bishop of Kyoto and later martyred as the archbishop of Perm during the Russian Revolution.

In 2005, the first Orthodox monastery (male) of Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church was opened in Tokyo near Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Nikolai-do). The abbot of the monastery is hieromonk Gerasimus (Shevtsov), who came from Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra[8].

As of 2007, the leader of Japanese Orthodox Church is Daniel (Nushiro), Metropolitan of all Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo, elevated to his seat in 2000.[9] It is estimated that the Church has some 25,000 adherents today.

Organization and hierarchy

The Japanese Orthodox Church has three dioceses:

Before enthroned to the Archbishop of Tokyo and the Metropolitan of All Japan, Metropolitan Daniel was the bishop of Kyoto. Since 2001, Metropolitan Daniel is also in charge as locum tenens.

The Japanese Orthodox Church runs the Tokyo Orthodox Seminary, which accepts only male faithfuls and gives a three-year theological education, and graduates then become future priests and missionaries. The Seminary also publishes the official monthly journal, called "Seikyo Jiho".[10]

The Japanese Orthodox Church publishes religious books, including the Japanese Orthodox Version of the New Testament as well as Psalms, among other Liturgy both available as texts alone or texts of musical scores. Both the headquarters in Tokyo and local parishes publish brochures, and these are aimed mostly to those already faithful looking for further religious education.

Liturgy

The Japanese Orthodox Church holds its liturgy in Japanese. The liturgical texts as well as biblical texts were translated into Japanese by Archbishop Nicholas with the assistance of Nakai Tsugumaro, a Japanese faithful and Chinese literary scholar, hence the Japanese texts are today read archaically. Some chants, however very rarely, still may be performed in other languages, such as Church Slavic or Greek.

The liturgical style widely found in the Japanese Orthodox Church community is heavily influenced by the late 19th Century Russian style.

See also

References

External Links

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