FIRST VISIT TO JAPAN OF BISHOP DANIIL of SOUTHERN-SAKHALINSK
Pravoslavie.Ru | Southern-Sakhalinsk, November 25, 2005
FIRST VISIT TO JAPAN OF
BISHOP DANIIL of SOUTHERN-SAKHALINSK
English Translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas
The ruling bishop of the easternmost diocese has made visit to Japan
at the invitation of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church,
according to O. Kirjanova, correspondent of Pravoslavie.Ru. His trip
coincides with the visit to Japan by Russia's president, V.V. Putin.
"This is my first visit to Japan", Vladyka Daniil told the website's
correspondent. "I've been in my see for 4 years, but during these
years it has been impossible to tear myself away. The
Southern-Sakhalin diocese not large, but it doesn't have enough
clerics, and our people are very much in need of pastoral care.
"I arrived in Hokkaido with a group of officials of the Sakhalin
regional administration. We flew into Hakodate, visited the Orthodox
Cathedral of Christ's Resurrection erected at the site, first Orthodox
temple built in Japan by Bishop Nikolai of Japan. Thereafter we took
off for Tokyo.
Japan's capital is a huge city a veritable stone jungle. I didn't
particularly like the city wall to wall buildings, all concrete and
I knew that president V.V.Putin will be meeting with Japan's
prime-minister and that their talks will be complex. All of us have
awaited this meeting. I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea if, at the
same time, we pray together with Japanese Orthodox that the Lord
enlighten and reconcile both parties that the situation not become
over-heated. We prayed for peace. On the day when the president
arrived in Japan, we served liturgy in Tokyo's "Nikolai-do" cathedral,
together with +Daniil, Metropolitan of Tokyo and All Japan and with
Bishop Seraphim of Sendai. I know both of them well, since six years
ago when they received monastic tonsure in the Holy Trinity/St.
Sergius Lavra, I bore obedience as the Lavra's dean, arranged their
accommodations, and also took part in the tonsure.
There were very many people in the Tokyo cathedral. I preached and the
Vladyka Metropolitan Daniil offered words of welcome. The divine
service was celebrated in the Japanese and Russian languages. Many
Russians live in Tokyo, but the majority of the cathedral's
parishioners are Japanese. Most likely, they are descendants of those
inhabitants of Japan who were baptized by Bishop Nikolai. He built the
Tokyo cathedral and often prayed in it. It was moving for me to stand
in the place where Bishop Nikolai once stood, on that ambo from which
he preached to the flock. How many such sermons were preached and
what were those times like? Certainly, all of this is very touching.
People there are very pious; they observe Orthodox traditions and
sincerely love Russia. It is most important, we firmly know we have
friends there. Before the trip to Japan I was in Korea where, at a
shipyard, I consecrated two Russian tankers which were being built for
the Sakhalin port. Certainly, Japan is a totally different country. It
seemed to me, that this nation is more lively than the Koreans, and
that we, Russian, are more similar to the Japanese. The Japanese,
contrary to what we imagine as their traditional severity and
insularity, have a good sense of humor. The nation is more europeanized.
At the divine service in Tokyo many young men served in the altar.
This already is a good indicator. Among them were both Japanese and
Russians. As a rule, these people are those who have already lived
here several years; they work in Japanese companies, but on Sundays
they are strict in attending church. The people attend church thank
God! I felt the Japanese Orthodox Church has a future.
The cathedral choir consists only of Japanese. Singing, basically all
in Japanese but tunes are Russian. Much is borrowed from Lavra. When
they sang in Church Slavonic, I hardly constrain a smile because it
all sounded very unusual, with a Japanese accent.
I was left with many impressions and I am grateful to God for helping
me make such this journey.
I am very happy with results of the visit to Japan by Russia's
president. He conducted himself with great dignity. His trip to that
country took place coincided with demonstrations by Japanese right.
For example, Sakhalin's governor, Ivan Malakhov, who too was in Japan
at the time, said that before the house where he was staying, Japanese
demonstrated with posters saying "Ivan, go home!". They scanned these
same words in Russian. But, simply nobody paid attention to it.
The Japanese also understand very well that politics does not feed
people. Sakhalin, first of all, represents energy resources. We have
rich deposits of gas and coal which are both necessary to Japan,
China, and Korea. Japanese companies work in Sakhalin's shelf and they
very much want to expand their activity. The Japanese will soon build
then Korsakov by Japanese the first will be soon construct a gas
condensing factory in Russia. Gas will be transported by tankers to
Japan. They are presently warmed by kerosene, which is very expensive
- gas is much cheaper. All these matters were negotiated in Tokyo.
Serious business cooperation must be developed, and if politics is the
foremost consideration, then Japan's economy will seriously suffer.
For us Orthodox, spiritual dialogue is most important and I think that
mutual relations between the Orthodox in Russia and the Orthodox in
Japan should deepen".