Timeline of Orthodoxy in Japan
The History of Orthodoxy in Japan is recent when compared to that of the Orthodox Church as a whole.
Era of St. Nicholas (1836-1912)
- 1836: Ioann Dmitri Kasatkin, the future evangelizer of Japan, was born August 1, 1836, in the province of Smolensk in Russia.
- 1853: Ioann Kasatkin enters the Smolensk Theological Seminary.
- 1857: Ioann Kasatkin graduated from the Smolensk Theological Seminary.
- 1860: Ioann Kasatkin takes monastic vows as Nicholas and is ordained a priest.
- 1861: Fr. Nicholas meets Abp. Innocent of Kamchatka and discusses his missionary experience in Alaska. Fr. Nicholas arrives at the Russian Consulate in Hakodate to begin his service to the consulate and begin his missionary efforts with the Japanese.
- 1865: Fr. Nicholas meets Takuma Sawabe in a confrontation over the teaching of Christianity in Japan. After listening to Fr. Nicholas, Sawabe becomes Fr. Nicholas’ first student and disciple.
- 1868: Fr. Nicholas performs his first baptisms of Japanese converts in April: Sawabe received the name Paul, Sakai became John, and Urano became James.
- 1870: Fr. Nicholas is elevated to the rank of archimandrite, and the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia grants financial support for Fr. Nicholas’ mission to Japan.
- 1871: Fr. Nicholas moves his missionary efforts to Tokyo.
- 1872: Fr. Nicholas baptizes his first class of ten catechumens in Tokyo.
- 1873: Fr. Nicholas buys property in Tokyo at Surugadai in Kanda for his headquarters and there establishes schools for catechumens and the Russian language.
- 1874: In May, Fr. Nicholas convened the first general council of the Church of Japan.
- 1875: The first mission school away from Tokyo was opened in Osaka which became the center for Orthodoxy in southern part of Japan. The second general council of the Church was convened on July 12. At the council, the first Japanese were chosen to be ordained as clergy: Paul Sawabe as a priest and John Sakai as a deacon. Ordinations were made by Bishop Paul of East Siberia.
- 1878: Fr. Vladimir Sokolovsky, a graduate of Kazan Academy becomes dean of the Russian language school at Kanda Surugadai.
- 1880: Archimandrite Nicholas is consecrated Bishop of Revel, an auxiliary of the Archdiocese Riga. Bp. Nicholas established the Tokyo Seminary by merging the mission and language schools.
- 1884: Ground at Kanda Surugadai were blessed for the erection of a cathedral.
- 1891: The cathedral at Kanda Surugadai is completed and is consecrated in the name of the Holy Resurrection on March 8. The cathedral is known more affectionally as Nicolai-do, the House of Nicholas.
- 1903: The general council established, at Bp. Nicholas’ recommendation, a financial plan for the independence of the Church.
- 1904: The Russo-Japanese War begins. Bp. Nicholas decides to remain in Japan but not celebrate any public services.
- 1905: The war is concluded. The Japanese Church aided the Japanese government in caring for the Russian prisoners.
- 1906: Hiermonk Andronik is consecrated Bishop of Kyoto.
1907: Bp. Nicholas is elevated to Archbishop of All Japan, establishing the Church of Japan as a separated, independent diocese. Bp. Andronik departed for Russia due to poor health. Abp. Nicholas asks for an auxiliary.
- 1908: Bp. Sergius (Tikhomirov) arrives in Japan as Bishop of Kyoto, auxiliary to Abp. Nicholas.
- 1911: Fiftieth anniversary of Abp. Nicholas’ arrival in Japan is celebrated.
- 1912: Abp. Nicholas dies on February 16 of heart failure. Bp. Sergius recognized by the Holy Synod of Russia as successor to Abp. Nicholas and is elevated to Archbishop.
After Nicholas of Japan
- 1917: The revolutions in Russia caused loss of financial support for the Church of Japan.
- 1923: The Great Kanto earthquake of September 1 caused severe damage to Holy Resurrection Cathedral and other building of the cathedral complex. Abp. Sergius expends major effort to raise funds and restore the cathedral.
- 1929: The re-built Holy Resurrection Cathedral is re-consecrated on December 15.
- 1931: Abp. Sergius is elevated to Metropolitan of All Japan by the Holy Synod of Russia.
- 1940: Militarized Japanese government enacts laws requiring all religious organizations in Japan to have Japanese in leadership positions. Metr. Sergius and non-Japanese staff retire. Metr. Sergius chooses to remain in Japan.
- 1941: Priest Nicholas Ono elected bishop by the general council. He is consecrated Bishop Nicholas by Abp. Nestor of Harbin after Fr. Ono’s wife enters a Harbin monastery. Bp. Nicholas is first Japanese to be consecrated a bishop.
- 1944-45: Major Orthodox churches in Osaka, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, and Sendai are destroyed in World War II air raids.
- 1945: After being arrested, Metr. Sergius dies mysteriously while under house arrest on August 15, five days before the war ended. Church of Japan enters temporarily under the jurisdiction of the North American diocese of the Church of Russia (commonly referred to as the ‘’Metropolia’’).
Post World War II
- 1947: Abp. Benjamin (Basalyga) from the Metropolia is assigned as Bishop of Tokyo. Begins restoration of the Church of Japan organization.
- 1953: Bp. Ireney (Bekish) replaces Abp. Benjamin. Begins restoration of the Tokyo Seminary. Restores publication of religious books.
- 1957: Bp. Ireney is elevated to Archbishop.
- 1959: Abp. Nikon (de Greve) succeeds Abp. Ireney as Bishop of Tokyo.
- 1962: Abp. Vladimir (Nagosky) succeeds Abp. Nikon.
- 1969: Fr. Theodosius (Nagashima) is consecrated Bishop of Kyoto.
- 1970: As part of the autocephaly granted to the Metropolia in the United States, the Church of Japan was granted autonomy under the Church of Russia. Also, the Church of Russia recognized the sainthood of Abp. Nicholas as the Equal of the Apostles and Evangelizer of Japan. Abp. Vladimir was elevated by Patriarch Alexis of Moscow to Metropolitan of all Japan.
- 1971: Bp. Seraphim (Sigrist) is elected Bishop of Sendai.
- 1972: Bp. Theodosius (Nagashima) of Kyoto succeeds Metr. Vladimir as Archbishop of Tokyo and Metropolitan of All Japan due to poor health.
- 1999: Metr. Theodosius (Nagashima) dies, succeeded by Daniel (Nushiro) as Archbishop of Tokyo and Metropolitan of All Japan.
- A. Ishido, Masters Thesis, ‘’The Achievement of St. Nicholas, Equal of the Apostles and Evangelizer of Japan’’, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 1974.