Nicholas (Ono) of Japan

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This article forms part of the series
Orthodoxy in Japan
Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Tokyo, Japan)
Timeline of Orthodoxy in Japan
Church of Japan
Nicholas of Japan
Andronik of Perm
Sergius (Tikhomirov)
Nicholas (Ono)
Benjamin (Basalyga)
Ireney (Bekish)
Nikon (de Greve)
Vladimir (Nagosky)
Theodosius (Nagashima)
Seraphim (Sigrist) of Sendai
Daniel (Nushiro) of Japan
Seraphim (Tsujie) of Sendai
Fr Paul Sawabe
Fr Simeon Michiro Mii
Fr Anatoly Tikhai
Yakov Tikhai
Victor Pokrovsky
Irina Yamashita
Holy Resurrection Cathedral
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His Grace the Right Reverend Bishop Nicholas (Ono) of Japan was consecrated as the ruling bishop of the Church of Japan in 1941 when the militaristic Japanese government required the heads of all religious groups in Japan to be Japanese nationals. He was the first Japanese national to be consecrated an Orthodox bishop.


The future Bp. Nicholas was born Kiichi Yamazaki on September 8, 1872, in the village of Kannami in Shizuoka Prefecture. When he was still in elementary school, his older brother, Yamazaki Kenzaburō, was baptized into the Orthodox faith under the name of Sabbas and became a catechist. As young Kiichi finished his education at school, he hoped to continue learning and went to Tokyo where he was introduced to Archbishop Nicholas (Kasatkin) and entered the Orthodox Seminary in Tokyo, being baptized under the name of John in 1885.

John completed his education in 1892 and became a catechist, following in the footsteps of his older brother. In 1894 he married Faith Ono accepting her family name. On March 19, 1905, with Abp. Nicholas officiating, he was consecrated to priesthood and was assigned to be the priest of the church in Takasaki where he spent over thirty years, acquiring a rich pastoral experience. Suddenly, as the wartime pressures on the Orthodox Church in Japan were mountain, he was reassigned in 1939 to the Yokohama Orthodox Church.

When in 1939 the increasingly nationalistic Japanese government passed laws requiring that all Japanese religious bodies must be headed by Japanese nationals and Metr. Sergius, who was the Archbishop of Tokyo and Metropolitan of All Japan, the Japanese Orthodox Church faced a grave predicament. In order to conform to the new regulations and preserve the opportunitity to remain a functioning religious body in the harsh circumstances a Council of the Japanese Church was held in 1941 and Fr. John Ono was elected as a Japanese candidate to episcopacy.

As he was married, he had to first separate from his wife who was sent to a monastery in Harbin in Manchuria, which was at the time ruled by Japan. Fr. John was also traveled to Harbin where he was tonsured under the name of Nicholas and consecrated on April 6, 1941 as the bishop of Tokyo and all Japan by the hierarchs of the ROCOR: Metr. Meletius of Harbin and all Manchuria, Abp. Nestor (Anisimov) of Kamchatka and Petropavlovsk, Bp. Juvenal of Qiqihar, Bp. Demetrius of Hailar and Bp. John (Maksimovich) of Shanghai. (Some sources name Abp. Victor of Beijing instead of Bp. John.) Thus, Bp. Nicholas became the first Japanese national to be consecrated an Orthodox bishop.

After the end of WWII, the jurisdiction over most of the communities of the Japanese Orthodox Church was assumed by the American Metropolia, the predecessor of the OCA, while a minority, under the leadership of Bp. Nicholas aligned itself with the Moscow Patriarchate. Subsequently, Bp. Nicholas was reconciled with the Japanese Orthodox Church led by Bp. Irenaeus (Bekish) in April of 1954 and died at the age of 83 on November 19, 1956. He is buried in the famous Yanaka Cemetery in Tokyo alongside his predecessors: St. Nicholas, the Enlightener of Japan, and Metr. Sergius.


  • Ushimaru, Proclus (Yasuo), Priest, Kami no Mimune ni Ikita Gekidō no Shimobetachi, Tokyo, Office of the Metropolitan, the Japanese Orthodox Church, 1985.

Succession box:
Nicholas (Ono) of Japan
Preceded by:
Sergius (Tikhomirov)
Bishop of Tokyo
Succeeded by:
Benjamin (Basalyga)
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