The first Young Men’s Christian Association in Japan.

28 10 2010

Rev.Kozaki Hiromichi. Japan Kumiai Church minister.

The first Young Men’s Christian Association among the Japanese was probably that organized this year in Tokyo. Rev. Messrs. Kozaki, Ibuka, Hiraiwa, and Uemura were prominent in the early days of the society. Meetings of its members were held for religious and philosophical discussions, a small library was formed, and there were occasional evangelistic services. It formed the foundation of the present Association in Tokyo. In October there was published under its auspices the Rikugo Zasshi (The Cosmos), a magazine that soon gained considerable circulation and influence. In this connection it may be noted that about the same time there was started in Kyoto a periodical entitled Ryokyo Zasshi (The Magazine of the Two Religions), which announced as its object the protection of Buddhism and Shintoism from the alarming advances being made by Christianity.

A letter written in July, 1881, by Rev. C T, Blanchet of the American Episcopal Mission, mentions four indications of the rapid extension of Christianity; — 1. The establishment, with the Government’s approval, of a number of Christian papers. 2. The greater demand for Christian literature, and the rapidly increasing supply. 3. The renewed energy put forth by the Buddhists in trying to bolster up their system, which was daily losing its hold upon the people. 4. The tacit allowance by the Government of preaching the Gospel and of selling the Scriptures in the interior as well as in the open ports, irrespective of the protests of the Buddhists against the same.

Ibuka Kajinosuke (井深 梶之助?, 1854-1935) was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period, who became a Christian during the Meiji era. He was born in Aizu, and fought in the Boshin War. In his adult life, he also became an ordained minister, and was an educator.

The circulation of the Scriptures had largely increased. The sales of Bibles and “portions” by the three societies — the American Bible Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the National Society of Scotland — amounted to 115,000 copies, for which 16,000 yen were received. It was the general rule of these societies to sell and not give away the Scriptures, the retail price being but little, if any, below the actual cost of production. Most of the missions and other societies that published Christian books put the price at such a sum as covered all the expenses of publication and distribution.

Uemura, Masahisa

About this time Rev. Mr. Okuno, at the request of the superintendent of a large prison near Tokyo, commenced to preach every week to the criminals. His audiences usually numbered from eight hundred to a thousand. These services were kept up for about two years, when the opposition of Buddhist priests caused their discontinuance.



Conventions in Tokyo and Osaka!

21 10 2010

Joseph Hardy Neesima

The year 1878 was marked by a number of conventions that in various ways showed the progress that was being made. The earliest of these was a meeting of delegates sent by the nine churches that had grown up in connection with the work of the American Board. It was held in Osaka January 2 and 3. Its purpose was to promote fellowship among the churches and to devise plans for uniting their forces for spreading the Gospel.

Besides the delegates, many Christians living in the vicinity were in attendance. Mr. Neesima was the chairman. The most important business accomplished was the establishment of the Japanese Missionary Society, the churches promising to make monthly contributions for its support. The management of this society was wholly in the hands of the Japanese, and at first it did not receive any financial aid from the mission. The next summer it sent several theological students from the Doshisha to places where there were promising openings, and in these they laid the foundations of what have since become large churches.

In May the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the American Episcopal Mission met in Tokyo for a conference. Two bishops and fifteen other clergymen were in attendance. They decided that the Japanese churches formed in connection with their work should use the same Book of Common Prayer. For this the translations already made of the Litany and of the services of Morning and Evening Prayer were adopted, and a committee was chosen for the translation of other portions.

May 1013 a convention of missionaries was held in Tokyo. As this was a delegate convention, it is not reckoned as one of the “General conferences.”Besides forty-one missionaries representing ten missions, each of the three Bible societies (British and Foreign, Scotch, and American) working in Japan sent a delegate, and there were three honorary members. The chief business related to the translation of the Old Testament. It was decided that each mission should be requested to appoint one of its members to serve upon a permanent committee that should have authority to select committees for translation and general revision.

Tsuda Sen (津田 仙?, August 6, 1837 – April 24, 1908) was an agriculturist and educator in Meiji period Japan, one of the founders of Aoyama Gakuin university, and the father of noted author Tsuda Umeko.

The first Dai Shimboku-kwai, or General Fellowship Meeting, for all the Protestant Christians of Japan was held in Tokyo, July 15-18. Twelve cities were represented by twenty-seven delegates ; and it is said that from five hundred to six hundred people were present at some of the meetings. Mr. Tsuda Sen was chosen Chairman. There were reports from the churches and addresses upon such subjects as “The Spirit of Christian Fellowship,” ” Christians should be Independent,” ” The Church and the Nation,” ” Christianity and Literature,” “Christianity and Social Reform,” “Christianity and Liberty,” etc. Much enthusiasm was manifested and it was a great advantage to have the Christians of different churches thus brought together. It was decided to have such meetings annually. The next year, however, the prevalence of cholera in the city of Osaka, which had been chosen for the place of meeting, led to a postponement until 1880. These Fellowship Meetings, either under the original name or as meetings of the Japanese Evangelical Alliance, have been held at irregular intervals until the present time.


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