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Japanese Orthodox Church

Japanese Orthodox Church

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The Japanese Orthodox Church or The Orthodox Church in Japan (OCJ) is an autonomous church of Eastern Orthodoxy under the omophorion
Omophorion
In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgical tradition, the omophor is the distinguishing vestment of a bishop and the symbol of his spiritual and ecclesiastical authority...

 of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

.

History


St. Nicholas of Japan (baptized as Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin) brought Eastern Orthodoxy to Japan in the 19th century. In 1861 he was sent by the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 to Hakodate, Hokkaidō
Hokkaido
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

 as a priest to a chapel of the Russian Consulate. Though the contemporary Shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

's government prohibited the Japanese conversion to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, soon some neighbors who frequently visited the chapel converted in 1864—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
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 (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. In 1891 Nicholas founded the Cathedral of Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 in Kanda
Kanda, Tokyo
See also Kanda, Fukuoka and the disambiguation page for Kanda. is a district in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It encompasses about thirty neighborhoods...

 district and spent the majority of the last half of his life there, hence Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral
Tokyo Resurrection Cathedral
, also known as , in Chiyoda, Tokyo, is the main cathedral of the Japanese Orthodox Church.- History :The founder of the Japanese Orthodox Church Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin , later St. Nicholas of Japan, was an archbishop who devoted himself to improving Japanese-Russian relations during the Meiji...

 was nicknamed Nikorai-do by Kanda citizens.

St. Nicholas of Japan is also known for his own translation of New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 and some other religious books (Lenten Triodion, Pentecostarion
Pentecostarion
The Pentecostarion is the liturgical book used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite during the Paschal Season which extends from Pascha to the Sunday following All Saints Sunday The Pentecostarion (Greek: Πεντηκοστάριον, Pentekostárion; Slavonic:...

, Feast Services, Book of Psalms, Irmologion
Irmologion
Irmologion is a liturgical book of the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, and it contains texts for liturgical singing in Church. Specifically, it contains irmoi for the various canons which are chanted at Matins and other services...

).

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
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, the support and communications both spiritual and financial from the Russian Church were unexpected. The Japanese government had new suspicions about the Japanese Orthodox Church; in particular, that it was used as a cover for communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 Russian espionage. The second bishop of Japan, Metropolitan Sergius (Tikhomirov)
Metropolitan Sergius (Tikhomirov) of Japan
Metropolitan Sergius of Japan was a Russian clergyman and monk of the Russian Orthodox Church and later Japanese Orthodox Church.- Early life :...

, 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
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 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.

During the Fifteen Years War (1930–1945), which from 1939 to 1945 was part of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, 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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 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
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

 (OCA) helped re-invigorate the Japanese Orthodox Church. Japanese Orthodox Church was governed by bishops from OCA and several youths who studied at the OCA's Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, then in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, are now the leaders of the Japanese Orthodox Church.


Later, as the situation of the Russian Orthodox Church improved, the Japanese Orthodox Church came under their leadership again. In 1970 Nikolai Kasatkin was glorified by the Patriarch of Moscow and is recognized as St. Nicholas, Equal-to-the-Apostles to Japan. His commemoration day is February 16. In 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Bishop Andronic Nikolsky
Andronic Nikolsky
Andronik , also spelled Andronic, was a bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church and a saint, glorified as Hieromartyr Andronik, Archbishop Of Perm in 2000.- Early life :...

 as a Saint and Martyr who was appointed to the first Bishop of Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

 and later martyred as the archbishop of Perm
Perm
Perm is a city and the administrative center of Perm Krai, Russia, located on the banks of the Kama River, in the European part of Russia near the Ural Mountains. From 1940 to 1957 it was named Molotov ....

 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
Hieromonk
Hieromonk , also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism....

 Gerasimus (Shevtsov), who came from Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is situated in the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 70 km to the north-east from Moscow by the road leading to Yaroslavl, and currently is home to...

.

, the leader of Japanese Orthodox Church is Daniel (Nushiro), Metropolitan of all Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo, elevated to his seat in 2000. It is estimated that the Church has some 30,000 adherents today.

Organization and hierarchy


The Japanese Orthodox Church has three dioceses:
  • Tokyo Archdiocese (Tokyo
    Tokyo
    , ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

    : Archbishop Daniel Nushiro)
  • Eastern Japan Diocese (Sendai: Bishop Seraphim Tsujie)
  • Western Japan Diocese (Kyoto
    Kyoto
    is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

    )


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".

The Japanese Orthodox Church publishes religious books, including the Japanese Orthodox Version of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 as well as Psalms
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

, 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 Slavonic or Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

.

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

See also


  • Holy Resurrection Cathedral
  • Christianity in Japan
    Christianity in Japan
    Christianity is a minority religion in Japan, with less than one percent claiming Christian belief or affiliation. Nearly all known traditional denominations of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity are represented in Japan today.The root of the Japanese...


External links