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Orthodox Church in Japan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Orthodox Church in Japan

Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral 201000.jpg
MetropolitanDaniel (Nushiro)
HeadquartersTokyo, Japan
- Total

DenominationEastern Orthodox
Sui iuris churchAutonomous Orthodox Church within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate (the status of autonomy not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople[2])
Established10 April 1970 by the Moscow Patriarchate
LanguageClassical Japanese
Current leadership
Metropolitan of All Japan and Archbishop of TokyoMetropolitan Daniel (Nushiro)

The Orthodox Church in Japan (or the Orthodox Church of Japan) (日本ハリストス正教会, Nihon Harisutosu Seikyōkai, OCJ) is an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church within the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.


The first purpose-built Orthodox Christian church to open in Japan was the wooden  Russian Consulate chapel of the Resurrection of Christ, in Hakodate, Hokkaidō, consecrated in October 1860.[3][4]

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 became the first to learn the local language and customs sufficiently to spread Orthodox Christianity amongst the local populace.[5] Though the shōgun's government at the time prohibited Japanese from converting to Christianity, some locals who frequented the chapel did convert in 1864. While they were Kassatkin's 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 earlier. On Kassatkin's initiative, the Russian Imperial government established the Russian Spiritual Mission to Japan [ru] in 1870.

1882 council of the Orthodox Church in Japan
1882 council of the Orthodox Church in Japan

Kassatkin moved to Tokyo in 1872; he remained in Japan for most of the time until his death in 1912, even during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. He was consecrated bishop in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Saint Petersburg in the Russian Empire in March 1880 (initially with the title of auxiliary bishop of Reval; he became Archbishop of Tokyo and Japan from March 1906). Kassatkin travelled across Russia to collect funds for the 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 of some liturgical books (Lenten Triodion, Pentecostarion, Feast Services, Book of Psalms, Irmologion).[6]

By the end of 1890, as reported by Kassatkin, the Orthodox Church in Japan (the Russian Spiritual Mission to Japan) had 18,625 baptized faithful.[7]

The Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) created a politically difficult situation for the Orthodox Church in Japan. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, communications with and support from the Church in Russia (in the USSR from 1922) diminished greatly.[8] The  Japanese government had new suspicions about the Japanese Orthodox Church; in particular fearing that the Soviets used it as a cover for espionage. The second bishop of Japan (from 1912), Sergius (Sergii) Tikhomirov, was one of a handful of  Russian émigré bishops who remained loyal to the USSR-based  Moscow Patriarchate (rather than supporting the Kingdom of Yugoslavia-based ROCOR). From the late 1920s communion with the Moscow Patriarchate automatically implied loyalty to the government of the USSR - the Japanese government according treated Metropolitan Sergius with suspicion, and he was forced[by whom?] 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.[8]

During the  Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945, which merged into World War II (1939 to 1945), Christians in Japan - and especially the Orthodox Church - suffered severe conditions. During the war the Japanese Orthodox Church had had almost no foreign contact. Following the surrender of Japan (August 1945), the  Allied  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 revived. 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 Moscow undertook to this end.[9] The following year the Japanese Church largely switched to come under the Metropolia′s jurisdiction, and would be governed by bishops sent from the U.S. by the Metropolia 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.

Annunciation Cathedral in Kyoto
Annunciation Cathedral in Kyoto

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[10]) with a view to obtaining autocephaly (i. e. legitimate administrative independence), the Japanese Church was handed over[by whom?] to Russian Orthodox Church jurisdiction. On 10 April 1970, a few days prior to the death of Russian Patriarch  Alexius I, the Moscow Patriarchate  canonised Nikolay Kassatkin as part of a package deal of granting autocephaly to the OCA and re-establishing control over the Church of Japan.[11] The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople strongly condemned the act of granting autocephaly by the Moscow Patriarchate as violating canon law.[12]

In 2005 the first Orthodox Christian male monastic house of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church opened in Tokyo near Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Nikolai-do). The abbot of the monastic community, Hieromonk Gerasimus (Shevtsov) of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, dispatched by the  Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate,[13] arrived in Japan at the end of 2005.[14]

Current administrative organization and statistics

The Orthodox Church in Japan has three dioceses:

The Primate of the Orthodox Church in Japan is Daniel (Nushiro), Metropolitan of All Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo (since May 2000).[15] 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 church had a total of 67 parishes (communities), 37 clergymen, and 9,619 followers (registered members).[16]

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".[17]

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.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ EXCLUSIVE: How the Moscow Patriarchate Tramples on Church Canons and Undermines Orthodox Unity in Korea. The interview by Ambrosios Zografos, the Metropolitan of Korea and Exarch of Japan. The Orthodox World, 12 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Святейший Патриарх Кирилл посетил Воскресенский храм в Хакодате / Новости / Патриархия.ru". Патриархия.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  4. ^ "函館ハリストス正教会関連略年表". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  5. ^ St. Nicholas, Equal of the Apostles and Archbishop of Japan. OCA.
  6. ^ "'Православие в Корее' - Orthodox Translation of Gospel into Japanese". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  7. ^ "Токийский кафедральный Воскресенский собор в истории Японской Православной Церкви / Поместные Церкви // проект портала Православие.Ru". Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  8. ^ a b "日本の正教会の歴史と現代 "History and Modernity of Japanese Orthodox Church"" (in Japanese). The Orthodox Church in Japan. 2008. Retrieved 2019-05-05.
  9. ^ ""За веру и бомбу": удивительная жизнь полковника Бориса Пашковского-Пэша". Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrene (in Russian). Retrieved 2019-08-18.
  10. ^ Felix Corley. The Svyatoslav Files: Metropolitan Nikodim and the KGB
  11. ^ Agreement on the Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in America // Article X – Orthodox Church in Japan. The official web site of the OCA.
  12. ^ "1970 Letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras on Autocephaly". Orthodox History. 2018-09-21. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  13. ^ "ЖУРНАЛЫ заседания Священного Синода Русской Православной Церкви от 16 июля 2005 года - ЖУРНАЛ № 47" [Minutes of the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of 16 July 2005]. 16 July 2005. Насельника Свято-Троицкой Сергиевой Лавры иеромонаха Герасима (Шевцова) командировать в распоряжение Предстоятеля Японской Автономной Православной Церкви митрополита Токийского Даниила для оказания содействия в организации монашеской общины.
  14. ^ "В каком-то смысле в Японии сегодня мода на христианство" [In a certain sense in Japan today there is a fashion for Christianity]. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 2020-04-06. - Отец Герасим, как давно Вы служите в Японии?
    - Недолго, всего год и два месяца.
  15. ^ "東京の大主教、全日本の府主教ダニイル "Daniel, Archbishof of Tokyo and metropolitan of all Japan"" (in Japanese). The Orthodox Church in Japan. 2007-02-01. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
  16. ^ 宗教統計調査結果 ― 平成 26 年 12 月 31 日現在 ― / 文化庁 文化部 宗務課: See pp. 80 and 81.
  17. ^ Matsushima, Maria Junko. "ST. NIKOLAI of JAPAN and the Japanese Church Singing". Retrieved 2020-04-06.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 May 2021, at 20:57
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