Русский | 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 Russiaís president, V.V. Putin.

"This is my first visit to Japan", Vladyka Daniil told the websiteís correspondent. "Iíve 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 doesnít 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 Christís Resurrection erected at the site of the first Orthodox temple built in Japan by Bishop Nikolai of Japan. Thereafter we took off for Tokyo.

Japanís capital is a huge city — a veritable stone jungle. I didnít particularly like the city — wall to wall buildings, all concrete and asphalt.

I knew that president V.V.Putin will be meeting with Japanís prime-minister and that their talks will be complex. All of us have awaited this meeting. I thought it wouldnít 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 Tokyoís "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 Lavraís 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 cathedralís 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 Russiaís president. He conducted himself with great dignity. His trip to that country took place coincided with demonstrations by Japanese right. For example, Sakhalinís 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 Sakhalinís 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 Japanís 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".