Nikolai of Japan

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Nikolai of Japan

Nicholas of Japan (born August 1 . Jul / 13 August  1836 greg. In Smolensk as Ivan Dmitrievich Kassatkin ; † February 3 jul. / 16th February  1912 greg. In Tokyo ) was a Russian monk of the Orthodox Church. He introduced the Orthodox Church in Japan and also became the first Orthodox Archbishop of Tokyo and Japan.


Nikolai studied theology in Saint Petersburg from 1857 . In 1860 he became a monk and in the same year also a priest. During his student days, he responded to an appeal seeking a priest for the Russians stationed there for the chapel of the Russian consulate in Hakodate . In 1861 he traveled to Japan, but began in Hakodate - contrary to the wishes of the consul - single-handedly with proselytizing the local Japanese. Then he went to Tokyo, where the first diocese of the Orthodox Church in Japan was founded.

He then stayed in Japan permanently. Even during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) his loyalty was more with the Japanese Christians than with the Russian state. His work was "by rejecting all political ties and by developing a Japanese clergy purposefully aimed at founding a genuinely Japanese 'young church'".

When he died, the Orthodox Church in Japan had about 30,000 members and is about the same today.

In 1970 he was canonized as Nikolai, Illuminator of Japan by the Russian Orthodox Church .


Nikolai of Japan translated the parts of the Old Testament read in the liturgy , the New Testament and the remaining texts of the Orthodox liturgy into Japanese . His translations are written in a classic literary Japanese and are considered relatively demanding reading. He followed the Slavic-Greek tradition in the sound form of biblical proper names, which is why these often differ greatly from Japanese Bibles of the Western tradition. (Ex: for Jesus he wrote Iisusu , while other churches use Iyesu ).


  • Heinrich Michael Knechten: Russian messengers of faith . Hartmut Spenner, Kamen, 2nd, expanded edition 2019, ISBN 978-3-89991-206-7 , pp. 172-181.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bertold Spuler , quoted in: Hans-Werner Gensichen : Missionsgeschichte der neue Zeit . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1961, p. 48.