The “Weeping Prophets” of Emmanuel Mura in Hokkaido!

17 10 2011

The Hokkaido was being gradually occupied by settlers moving thither from the main island. In some cases, companies of Christians united in founding colonies. Rev. W. R. Andrews, of the Church Missionary Society, in 1898 thus described the condition of one of these villages whose very name showed the faith of its settlers:

“Emmanuel Mura is a settlement where there are sixty Christians. Of these, twenty belong to the Seikokwai (Native Episcopal Church) and the rest to the Congregational Church. The Seikokwai Christians have their own little church building, having erected it last year, mostly with their own hands. Sunday is well kept in this village; no one thinks of doing any work. All get up later, don their best clothes, and come to church for service at ten, and stay in church till twelve or one. The service proper lasts an hour, but religious talk, etc., keeps them afterwards. The Sunday-school, too, is generally going on while the adults are having their talk. In the evening there is another service. I was told that, however fine the day, no one would ever go out into the fields for work.”

In November of the same year, the present writer spent a Sunday with the Congregationalists of this village. The meeting was held in the cabin of one of the settlers, a rough building about thirty by fifteen feet in size, made of reeds bound to a framework of poles. The wind, rain, and sleet found easy access on every side. In the centre of the hut was a square fireplace, the fire being built on the ground. The fuel consisted of split logs about three feet long. One end of these blazed in Sie centre of the fireplace, and as the logs burned away they were gradually pushed up towards the flame, new ones being added from time to time. On three sides of the fireplace were the boards that covered one-half of the floor-space, the rest being the bare ground. There was no chimney and no opening in the roof except the crevices between the reeds with which it was thatched. In moments of calm, the smoke rose quietly upward to where the poles and reeds had been coloured a glossy, oily black from the accumulations of former years ; but every few moments a puff of wind would send the smoke into the faces of those that sat about the fire. The colonists paid little attention to this beyond squinting up their eyes when the smoke was thicker than usual, but the visitor found it best to carry on the conversation with closed eyes, and when the time came for him to preach he became in truth a weeping prophet The people themselves were not so rough as their surroundings. Their conversation showed them to be thoughtful persons, and some of them had received a good education. One shelf in the hut was heavily laden with books, most of them being of a solid character. These Congregationalists of the Hokkaido might well remind the visitor of those that colonised New England. The eastern boundary of their settlement was marked by a post inscribed: “Love never faileth,” and the western by one on which was written: “The truth shall make you free.”

Progress with the Ainu in Piratori. 1893!

17 06 2011

Ainu Chief

A great advance was made in the Church Missionary Society’s work among the Ainu. In 1893 there was an increase from eleven church-members and two catechumens to two hundred and nineteen members and one hundred and fifty-one catechumens. The number of villages containing Christians increased from two to ten.

Of one village Mr. Batchelor wrote:

“Every woman in Piratori has accepted Christ as her Savior. That is a glorious triumph of the Cross, for the women hitherto have never been allowed to have any religion; the men only have worshipped God. Just think of old women over seventy years of age, now for the first time in their lives, praying — and praying to Jesus only”

A Methodist missionary who visited Hakodate in January, 1903, wrote of the harmony that existed among different denominations in that city. He said:

“It is customary here in Hakodate for the Christians, not only to unite during the week in prayer, but also on the second Sunday of the Week of Prayer, and partake of the Lord’s Supper together. One year the Lord’s Supper is observed according to the Episcopal form, the next according to the Presbyterian, and the next according to the Methodist. . . . These Sunday ‘Union’ services are always held in the Methodist Church, because that church building is the largest. … I was invited to preach the sermon. . . After the sermon Mr. A., a missionary of the Church of England (a Low Churchman), conducted and administered the Holy Communion, wearing his surplice. He read the service in Japanese according to the order of his Church, inviting the pastors of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches (both Japanese) and myself within the railing around the pulpit. After partaking of the emblems himself, he administered them first to us three, and then invited us to assist him in administering to the people as they gathered about the railing.

Footnote from Mr. Otis:

If this book has any reader fifty years from the date of its Publication, he will probably think it strange that space should be granted to a paragraph that speaks only of such fellowship as followers of Christ would naturally be expected to have in remembrance of their one Lord; but in these dark days, though most Protestant denominations readily unite in communion services, there are some in which most of the clergy discourage such fellowship. It is the saddest of irony that the Lord’s supper, which should be the great symbol of union between all Christians, had become the point of the greatest separation, not only between the three great divisions of the church, but at times between the sub-divisions of Protestantism. Widgets

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.

The first Christian newspaper in Japan: Shichi Ichi Zappo!

2 10 2010

In May, Rev. W. Dening, of the Church Missionary Society, opened a service in what had formerly been a large shop on the main street of Hakodate. On the second Sunday he baptised in the presence of a large crowd Mr. Ogawa, who afterwards became a prominent evangelist. Soon after this, active opposition began, Mr. Ogawa being annoyed and persecuted in many ways.

Mr. Dening wrote, June 24:

“The Governor and other local authorities were excessive annoyed that I had obtained the use of a house on the main street Hitherto all Christian services have been carried on in somewhat obscure quarters of the town — usually in the missionary’s house. This is the first time that Christianity has been exposed to public view, as it were, in Hakodate. The young convert Ogawa, who took the house on my behalf, was called up by the authorities, again and again threatened, and charged not to allow any teaching or preaching in the name of Jesus in his house. He informed them he could not obey their commands, that he believed in Christianity himself, and wished to make it known to others, and he could not interfere with my work. I have reason for believing that the whole matter was referred to Tokyo; but no steps have been taken to carry the opposition further. But the Governor forbade the people to attend the service, frequently sent spies, and once came himself to see who were present”

In March, 1875, a Shinto priest had addressed the following memorial to the Vice-Minister of Religion :

” It has been ordered by the Government that religious tenets are left to the option of the people, and directions have been given to the teachers of both Shintoism and Buddhism whereby they are caused to guide die people in accordance with the ‘ three articles of religion.’ I have, however, heard that of late in the foreign settlements in our country, foreign religious precepts are being incessantly promulgated, and that our people are in a friendly way enticed thereby. Now, such teachings as these, from the very commencement, hold lord and father in light regard, and eventually cause men to fall into the habit of setting at naught their ruler and of disregarding their parents. The fact of this teaching being pernicious to the Empire is a matter needing from the very first no discussion. I have been told of this, and am unfortunately too unworthily holding a minor office of religious instruction, and am thus unable to refrain from slight consideration as to whether it would be a source of trouble were I, at the time of my expounding religious precepts, to publicly throw open to reproach the foreign doctrines. I beg that you will promptly give me clear directions, and so humbly beg to make the above interrogation.”

To this the Department of Religion replied:

” Permission is granted according to the enquiry above. However, in matters outside the province of religion, careful attention must, of course, be paid that no hindrance shall arise of such a nature as to affect the public (i.e., international) relations of the Government.”

An elder and about ten members of the Shinsakae-bashi Presbyterian Church in Tokyo withdrew from it in 1875, and formed themselves into an independent body to which they gave the name ” Japan Church.” According to the historian of the Church of Christ in Japan (Presbyterian) : ” The motive of organising this new church consisted in enforcing an extreme anti-foreign principle of independence, because all the churches at those times were under the assistance of foreign churches and missionaries, who had naturally a great influence in those churches.” In 1883 these Christians united with others to form the Reinanzaka Church, the first of the Kumi-ai (Congregational) body that was organised in Tokyo.

In June Mr. Ing baptised fourteen young men in Hirosaki, the fruit of his own labours and those of Mr. Honda Yuitsu, a member of the Kaigan Church in Yokohama. These Christians wrote to that church in August asking that they might be organised as a church. The request being granted, the Hirosaki Church was formed and Mr.Honda was made its elder. In 1876 it became assciated with the Methodist body.

Besides these churches and the one in Sanda already mentioned, those organised in 1875 were one in Hoden, a suburb of Tokyo, that was connected with the Presbyterian Mission, and one in Tokyo connected with the Methodists. The Methodist Mission also organised its first quarterly conference.

December 27 1875, appeared the first Christian newspaper. It bore the name Shichi Ichi Zappo (Weekly News) and was edited by Rev. O. H. Gulick of the American Board Mission.

Question by a Buddhist Priest in Japan: Do foreigners attach a machine to the bodies of the pupils while they sleep?

28 09 2010

Yokohama Kaigan Church

A statement made in May, 1875, said that there were then not less than ten places in Yokohama, twenty-five in Tokyo, ten in the Kobe-Osaka district, and five in other places, making fifty in all, where regular Christian  services were held as often as once a week, with audiences varying from twenty to two hundred in number. The people were rapidly losing all fear of governmental interference in religious matters, while their interest in the truths of Christianity seemed to be increasing.

The previous year, several chapels had been secured in Tokyo and Yokohama without any opposition from the Government, and a Protestant church building was in process of erection in Tokyo, the property being held by four trustees. The object of the building was distinctly avowed to be that of Christian worship, and a declaration to that effect had been presented to an officer of the City Government.* In July, 187s, the Church Missionary Society erected a church in Nagasaki. Its turret was surmounted by a cross, which was the more noteworthy because the city had been the place where the ceremony of trampling on the sacred symbol had formerly been most observed. Before this, indeed, the towers of the Roman Catholic Church were adorned with crosses; but at the time of its erection, in 1864, that building had been looked upon by the officials as intended for the use of foreigners.

Another church built at this time was in Yokohama. Known as the Union Church, and also as the Kaigan Church, it served for more than thirty years as a place of worship for the foreign community and also for the oldest Japanese church. Of the $8,000 expended in its construction, $1,000 came from the Christians of the Sandwich Islands, who, on hearing of Commodore Perry’s expedition, had contributed money to be used, whenever possible, for a church building in Japan; $1,000 had been contributed by Hon. Townsend Harris, in 1861, under like conditions; $500 by Hon. R. H. Pruyn, Mr. Harris’s successor; and $50 by British seamen.

Robert H. Pruyn: President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Minister to Japan in 1861, and he served in that capacity until 1865, when he returned to New York. His crowning achievement were the negotiations following the Shimonoseki bombardment. He was considered highly successful in his dealings with the Shogun.

The same year saw the erection of two buildings for the use of girls’ schools. Mention has already been made of the day-school taught by Miss Kidder, in Yokohama. Feeling that much more could be accomplished if the pupils were brought more constantly under helpful influences, she leased an acre of land from the local government and applied to her home church for funds to be used in the erection of a boarding department. The Sunday-school children of America responded to this call, so that in June, 1875, a building with accommodations for forty pupils was formally opened. At first the pupils numbered fourteen, all of whom had before attended the day-school. The boarders paid three dollars a month for rooms, fuel, light, food, washing, and tuition; they furnishing their own clothing, bedding, books, and stationery. Common-school branches were taught in English, and there was also instruction in Japanese and Chinese. Daily religious services were held.

In Kobe Miss Talcott and Miss Dudley of the American Board Mission had taught classes of girls since 1873 ; but to them also it seemed that the time had come for a boarding school. They were encouraged to go forward by the interest that was shown by Japanese friends, who contributed eight hundred yen for the building, a yen at that time being worth nearly as much as an American gold dollar. Other money came from America. In order to make the sum at the disposal of the mission go as far as possible, the building was made very plain, the contract with the carpenter stipulating that there was ” not to be a moulding on it or about it.” It was planned to accommodate thirty girls with their teachers. ” It was much too large for the faith of some good friends of the school, but in less than two years another building was imperatively demanded.” Towards the second building Japanese gave six hundred yen, while foreigners living in Kobe gave two hundred yen. For later buildings the Japanese have also contributed liberally.

These and other schools have often had to contend against opposition, jealousy, and suspicion. A few years after the opening of Ferris Seminary, as the school in Yokohama was called, the father of one of the pupils from the interior came and asked if he might see the buildings.

‘His conduct seemed somewhat peculiar, for he wanted to be shown every nook and comer. Finally he addressed the matron in the most confidential manner, saying that he had been told by a Buddhist priest that foreigners at the school where his daughter was had been sent out from their country to obtain a very precious drug, which could only be obtained from the bodies of Japanese girls; that it was very costly; and that was why they could put up such fine schools and take pupils at such low rates. ‘ Tell me truly,’ said he, ‘ for you too are a Japanese ; you must know of this, if it is true. Do these foreigners attach a machine to the bodies of the pupils while they sleep?’”


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