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The Japanese Orthodox Church(jp. 日本ハリストス正教会) is one of autonomous churchs of the Eastern Orthodox.
St. Nikolai of Japan (baptized as Ivan Domitrievich Kasatkin) brought the Eastern Orthodoxy to Japan in the 19th Century. In 1861 he was sent by the Russian Orthodox Church to Hakodate, Hokkaido as a priest to a chapel of the Russian Consolate. Though the contemporary Shogun's government prohibited the Japanese conversion to Christianity, soon some neighbors who frequently visited the chapel converted -- Nikolai's first three converts in Japan. While they were his first converts in Japan, they were not the first Japanese to do so -- some Japanese who had settled in Russia had converted to Orthodoxy.
Apart from brief trips, Nikolai stayed in Japan, even during the Russo-Japanese War(1904 - 1905) and spread Eastern Orthodoxy nationwide, being appointed as the first bishop of Japanese Orthodox Church. Nikolai founded the Cathedral of Tokyo in Kanda district and spent the majority of the last half of his life there, hence Tokyo Ressurection Cathedral was nicknamed Nikorai-do by Kanda citizens.
The early mission to establish the Japanese Orthodox Church depended on the Russian Orthodox Church, especially in financial matters. The War between Russia and Japan created a politically difficult situation for the church. After the Russian Revolution the Japanese government had new suspicions about the Japanese Orthodox Church, in particular, that it was used as a cover for communist russian espionage. The second bishop of Japan, Metropolitan Bishop of Selgy suffered severely from such govermental suspicion and he was forced to resign his bishophood. The Russian Church similarly suffered from Stalinist policy and had no ability to help the young church in Japan.
During the so-called Fifteen Years War(1930 - 1945) Christianity in Japan suffered severe conditions, the Orthodox Church so especially. After the surrender that ended the war, the Occupying Army had a generous attitude to christianity as many orthodox faithful served in the Occupying Army. As the majority Slavic- ad Greek-Americans attended mostly the local orthodox churches, Orthodoxy in Japan took steps forward. During the war, the Japanese Orthodox Church had almost no foreign contact. Instead of the Russian Church, the Orthodox Church of America helped establish the Japanese Orthodox Church and several youth who studied in Vladimir Seminar in New York City are now the leaders of Japanese Orthodox Church.
Later, as the situation of the Russian Orthodox Church improved, the Japanese Orthodox Church came under their leadership again. In 1970 Nikolai Kasatkin was canonized in Moskow and until then called Archbishop, St. Nikolai of Japan. He is now the guardian saint of Japan. His commemoration day is February 16.
Now in 2004 the leader of Japanese Orthodox Church is Daniel Nushiro, the Metropolitan Bishop of Japan and Archbishop of Tokyo.