THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN NAGOYA
Nagoya is a rather big city whose population is over 2 million, so it is not rare to see people from abroad. It is easy to suppose that a lot of people from Orthodox countries live here. But few expected they could find an Orthodox Church in Japan, nor in Nagoya.
Our Orthodox Church started in Middle East 2000 years ago and was brought to this country in the Far East, as Christ decreed.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ORTHODOX CHURCH IN JAPAN
Orthodox Christianity was brought here in the middle of the 19th century by the young monk, Nikolai Kasatkin. At that time, Japan had just opened to the West and begun diplomatic relations. The United States, France, and Britain settled Consulates in Japan. Russia established its Consulate in Hakodate in Hokkaido. At the same time, the Orthodox Church in Japan started its history as a small church belonging to the Consulate.
Nikolai set foot on Japan. In the beginning, he studied Japanese language, culture, history, and the Japanese religions of Buddhism and Shintoism. He was a man of great curiosity and he mastered Japanese very quickly.
Day by day, year by year, Orthodox Christians increased in Northern Japan. In 1871, Nikolai decided to establish a church in Tokyo, the capital city, in order to expand the missionary activity throughout Japan. Soon he started a Seminary and publishing section. Not only the Bible but also prayer books, theological books, spiritual books, and various other kinds of books were published in Japanese. Graduates from the Seminary spread across all Japan and preached the Gospels.
In 1884, the number of Orthodox Christians was greater than 10,000 and a Cathedral was set for construction. After seven years, this beautiful church with its Russian-Byzantine style was completed. The Holy Resurrection Cathedral is generally called “Nikolai-Do”, thus named after St. Nikolai of Japan, Equal of the Apostles.
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN CHITA AND NAGOYA AREA
Orthodoxy was brought to Nagoya in 1874, by a missionary, Gregory Miyamoto,a graduate of Seminary. The first church was started in 1886, and completed one year later by the faithful in Fujituka-cho, in the Sakae Area. Fr. Peter Shibayama was in charge.
Early in the twentieth century, the Russia-Japan War occurred. In Nagoya, a prison camp was set up. Fr. Peter and church members sometimes visited the camp and held services. There still are 15 tombs of captives in Heiwa Cemetery in Meito Ward, and every spring the Nagoya church celebrates Panichida(service for the dead). Young Christians published coterie magazines, named “PANDANE(=Yeast)” and meetings were filled with people.
In those days, there were five churches in Chita Peninsula, and it is said that five hundred people were baptized. Now, only one church, St. John of Damascus, exists in Handa, Okkawa. The church was built 100 years ago and is still used.
In 1945, unfortunately like other big cities in Japan, Nagoya was burnt completely by airstrikes. Our church was also burnt down. In 1949, the church started a new history in Yamahana-cho. At first, a temporary small house was built and Fr. Jacob Hibi took care of it. Young Christians began to gather again. In 2010, a new church was built. Every Sunday, around 40 Christians gather and share Holy Communion.