Canada, Finland, Poland/Czecho/Columbia and Nagano

The Start of the English part. Go down to the Japanese part.

Welcome, Canadians, Finlanders, Poles/Czechs/Columbians, and all people of the world, to Nagano City! I would like to take your few minutes and talk about how all of you have long contributed to Nagano City, not only as visitors to the 18th Winter Olympic Games Nagano and Winter Paralympic Games 1998. It is a story of how you have helped the spiritual growth of the Nagano-ites, from more than a hundred years ago.

The Canadian Methodists

A few minutes' walk west of Central Square on Chuo-dori, downtown Nagano, where the awarding ceremonies of the Nagano Winter Olympics are held, stands a beautiful Methodist church, called the Nagano Agata-machi Kyokai (Phone: 026-232-0733), now belonging to the United Church of Christ in Japan. Its original building was built in 1892, mainly by the contribution of the people the Canadian Methodist Church, with Daniel Norman, its priest, as the leader. Noruman-san (he was always called affectionately this way, and was never addressed Noruman-sensei, Rev. Norman or Teacher Norman), tried to live like a Japanese and think like a Japanese, and said to be described by a child at that time: "I met a Japanese today who looked liked a foreigner."

This Methodist church in 1897 established the first kindergarten in Nagano City, which would later become the Asahi Kindergarten, with the help of Laura Wigel of Canada, while it also established a kindergarten teachers school for women in 1906 in Ueda City. The Asahi Kindergarten used to be at a site near the Agata-machi Church, which was sold in 1967 to the Hotel Kokusai 21, used as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members' hotel during the Olympics, moved north to the Hongo area, where at the 100th anniversary of the Agata-machi Kyokai in 1992 the Hongo Kyokai was added.

Note 1: Kyokai means Church.
Note 2: The United Church of Christ in Japan (Nihon Kirisuto Kyodan) was created during World War II as an agglomeration of all non-Catholic churches. After the War, some, such as the Anglican-Episcopal Church of Japan (Nihon Seikokai) and the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church (Nihon Luther Kyoukai), left it, while others continued to stay in it.

The Anglicans of Canada

When Japan opened several ports for foreign trade during the 1850s and 1860s, the Church of England sent missionaries mainly to western Japan such as Osaka, the second largest city, and Nagasaki, while the Episcopal Church of U.S. focused on Tokyo and eastern Japan. The Anglican Church of Canada later joined the Japanese missionary effort and took Nagoya, the third largest city, and central Japan, including Nagano Prefecture. Across the street from Shinshu University's Education Department, stands Nagano Seikyushu Kyokai (Holy Savior's Church, Phone/Fax: 026-232-6043), a red-brick church building with lovely stained-glass windows, established by Rev. John Waller of Toronto, Canada, and his fellow Anglicans' contribution.

A Canadian tradition still lives at this church, during the church bazaar held each May. Two lady missionaries, Marie Foerstel and Alison Sheppard stayed at the Nagano Church. The famous marmalade at the bazaar, based on Marie's recipe, is always sold out quickly. But, of course, the oranges used for the marmalade these days are the "natural oranges" from Nagasaki, showing the very concern of today's Nagano-ites. On May 31, 1998, this church will celebrate its 100the anniversary.

Obuse is a little town, east of Nagano, known for its chestnuts, chestnut cakes and chestnut everything. The Shinsei (New-Born) Hospital (Phone: 026-247-2033), the town's main hospital, was established in 1932 by Richard Kemp Start, an Anglican medical doctor, and his supporters in WA (Womens Attachment) in Canada, to combat tuberculosis among the Japanese youth. During World War II, he was ousted out of Japan, but came back after the war, and died here in 1971, a typical example of the steadfast Canadians. As tuberculosis became rare recently in Japan, the hospital added a hospice ward in December, 1996, and continues a unique contribution to its area. A statue of Dr. Kemp was dedicated recently next to the New-Born Chapel, located in the hospital grounds, and the Dr. Start Memorial Hall, a meeting place, was built in 1997.

The Lutherans of Finland

The Finland Mission (the Evangelical Lutheran Missionary Society of the Church of Norway) began its missionary work in Japan in 1900 when it sent Pastor A.W. Wellroos and his family, and Miss Esteri Kuruvinen to Nagasaki. After Pastor Wellroos had left Japan because of illness, Kuruvinen worked briefly in Saga City at the Saga Holy Cross Church, established by the United Lutheran Church of the South in 1893, and then moved to Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture, in 1905, with Miss Siiri Uusitaro who joined her. The Finland Mission established churches in Tokyo (Iidabashi, Ikebukuro, and others), in Nagano (Suwa, Iida and Matsumoto) and Hokkaido (Sapporo). Additionally, the Norway Mission established the Evangelical Churches of Western Japan and of Kinki (Kansai), while the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod established after World War II the Nihon Luther Kyodan which has the Lutheran Center and an English language shool in Tokyo.

In Nagano City, the first meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation was held in 1961, after the second merger of the Japan Lutheran Church, supported by the United States Lutheran churches, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, supported by Finland. On your way north on Nagano-Odori to Mt. Iizuna where Luge and Bobsleigh competitions were held, you'll find the Nagano Evangelical Lutheran Church (Phone: 241-3781) made of simple wooden structure and wide windows, when you turn right at Nishiyama Stone Materials shop, a little past Nagano Senior High School. This church building was completed in 1979.

The Silesian and Columbian Catholics

So, where have the Roman Catholics been? The history of the initial introduction of Christianity to Japan by Francisco Xavier of the Jesuit Order (the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus), who came to the southern most province of Satsuma, present-day Kagoshima Prefecture, in 1549, the prohibition of Christianity in 1618 and later persecution and martyrdom of the Christians, and the Pope's decision to re-introduce Catholicism to Japan in 1861 through the Foreign Missionary Society of Paris, the acceptance of the Catholic faith among Japan's rich and poor, and the persecution during World War II, has been long and complex.

The re-introduction of Catholicism to Nagano Prefecture began in 1889 in Matsumoto City, in central Nagano Prefecture, and later in Matsushiro City, in northern Nagano Prefecture, by visiting Roman Catholic fathers. The Nagano Catholic Church in Nagano City (Phone: 026-232-6949) was established in 1932 by Father Kowalus Agnelus of the Society of St. Francis of Assisi's (the Order of Friars Minor's) Province of Silesia, now part of Poland and Czecho, and the current church building was completed in 1976. During World War II, the Silesian fathers were said to be the only ones allowd to stay in Japan and have the mass, because Silesia was part of Germany at that time. As for Canada, the Province of Quebec of the Redemptorists, also known as the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer, founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in Scala, Italy, was responsible for the Catholic churches in Matsumoto, Suwa and Okaya Cities. All Roman Catholic churches in Nagano Prefecture belong now to the Yokohama Diocese (Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka and Nagano Prefectures) of the Province of Japan.

As a note, the Japanese and foreign sisters of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Seishin Jijo Shudo Kai, Phone: 233-2922), known for creating Seisen Women's Uiversity, Tokyo, and Seisen Girls' High School, Kamakura, were forced to evacuate Tokyo during World War II, to a small hot spa near Matsumoto City and then to Nozawa Hot Spa, Nagano Prefecture, with Japanese and foreign sisters. After the war, they were invited to Nagano City to build Seisen Jogakuin High School at the former site of the Japanese Imperial Army's Nagano Division Headquarters, at Joyama Park, Nagano City. Later, Seisen Jogakuin College (Phone: 295-5665) was opened to the east, next to Nagano Higashi Hospital.

The story of the Columbian Catholic fathers goes something like this: when the farmers of Nagano Prefecture returned to homeland from Shinano Village etc. in Manchuria at the end of World War II, they had no land to cultivate except to going to Ohinata in the Karuizawa area, among the lava ashes of Mt. Asama. They met the Catholic fathers of the Franciscan Order's Province of Columbia, who had been ousted out of China and were staying in Karuizawa, and together established a church. Eventually the Catholic fathers went home to Columbia, while the farmers in Ohinata became rich in the second house boom of the 1960s. One day during the 1970s, one of the Catholic fathers returned, held a mass among the elated villagers, was asked if he needed anything, and was found that he needed an automobile for his missionary work in South America. The parishioners immediately collected enough money overnight to buy a used Volkswagen Beetle, an imported car still expensive at that time in Japan, for the father to carry to Columbia.

The Conclusion

As we welcome many foreign guests to the 18th Winter Olympic Games on February 7-22 and Winter Paralympic Games on March 5-14 in Nagano, 1998, it is well worth remembering and thank these foreigners who had contributed from more than a hundred years ago to the spiritual growth of us Nagano-ites.

As a final note, I would like to thank Prof. Takashi Shioiri, formerly of Nagano Prefectural College of Technology and later of Nagano Women's Junior College, and the author of "Education in Shinshu and Christianity" (Tokyo: Kirisuto Shimbun-sha, 1982) for encouraging me to write this memorandum. I aslo would like to thank the Rev. Keisuke Nakamura of Nagano Evengelical Lutheran Church, and Keiko Yoshida, a member of the Nagano Catholic Church, for providing me with invaluable materials for reference.

The End of the English part

TOP OF PAGE | Home Page | The Prayer Meeting | CCNNP


The Start of the Japanese part. Go up to the English part.

カナダ、フィンランド、ポーランド・チェコ・コロンビア、それから世界の方々、長野にようここそ! しばらくのお時間を拝借して、みなさんがこうして第18回冬季オリンピックおよび冬季パラリンピック長野大会1998に来られただけでなく、いかに長期間長野に貢献してきたかをお話しします。それは、100年以上も前から、みなさんがいかに長野の人々の精神的育成を助けたかのお話しです。





日本が1850-60年代に開港した時、英国教会は大阪・長崎を含む日本西部へミッションを派遣し、米国聖公会は東京と日本西部をカバーしました。カナダ聖公会も後に加わり、第3の都市名古屋と中部地区(長野県を含む)に来ました。信州大学教育学部の前には、レンガの聖堂 長野聖救主教会(Tel/Fax: 026-232-6043)があり、内部はきれいなステンドグラスで飾られ、これはカナダ聖公会のジョン・ウォラー司祭が設立したものです。















ページのトップへ | ホームページへ | 祈りの集い | 北キ協

The End of the Japanese part. Go up to the English part.

Written by Yoshi Mikami of the Nagano Seikyushu Kyokai on July 29, 1997. Last update on Mar. 12, 1998.