Interfax – Christianity is popular is Japan today, says
Rev. Gerasim Shevtsov, father superior of the Orthodox St. Nicholas’s Monastery
‘Christianity is in some sense fashionable in Japan today.
Basically it is Christian wedding that has come into fashion. In Japan a great
number of Catholic and Protestant chapels are being built for this ceremony’,
Father Gerasim told Interfax during his recent visit to Russia.
At the same time he expressed regret that most Japanese do not go any
further than this wedding ceremony.
‘Certainly there are more profound
people who, having started reading Buddhist books and Christian literature
earnest, become attracted to Orthodoxy. The last year I saw several people who
came to church and accepted baptism. One of them even became a seminarian’, he
Speaking about the number of Orthodox Japanese, the priest noted
that, according to the annual Council of the Japanese Church which took place in
July 2006, there are some ten thousand permanent parishioners who come to church
on a regular basis and give donations.
‘As a matter of fact the number of
baptized Orthodox Christians is more than that. Just as in Russia, in Japan
there are those who come to church only on Christmas and Easter. So the total
number of Japanese who identify themselves with Orthodoxy amounts to nearly
thirty thousand’, Father Gerasim informed the agency.
The Orthodox Church in Japan is one of the Orthodox Churches in the
world. Orthodoxy was brought into Japan from Russia by St. Nicholai in the 19th
century. Although St. Nicholai was officially appointed as a chaplain for the
Russian consulate in the beginning, he came with a strong missionary zeal in
1861. He not only mastered the Japanese language completely but was also well
versed in Japanese culture as well as religion by the time he began his mission.
His command of the language was so perfect that no one could challenge him with
his translations of the Scriptures as well as the liturgical books.
St. Nicholai began his missionary work after baptizing first Japanese
Orthodox Christians in 1868. While his disciples were helping him by converting
people in the northern area, St. Nicholai moved down to Tokyo from Hakodate. He
eventually established the headquaters where the Holy Resurrection Cathedral
His extensive work, founding seminaries, the translation
center, and numerous churches and communities, witnesses his strong missionary
zeal as well as the Presence of the Holy Spirit. He departed in 1912.
ather Nicholai, pray to God for us!