“Tokyo Reinanzaka Kyokai vue de Hikawacho”, Tornomon, Tokyo, 1934.

1930sNeighborhoods (Misc)Religious
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“Tokyo Reinanzaka Kyokai vue de Hikawacho” [trans. “Tokyo Reinanzaka Kyokai seen from Hikawacho”], 1934. In 1883 Japanese Christians of various denominations in Tokyo united to form the Reinanzaka Church, the first Kumi-ai (Congregational) body to be organized in Tokyo. Reinanzaka Church is still located in Akasaka, Tokyo — near the Hotel Okura and the U.S. embassy. A 1917 redbrick ‘cathedral’ (seen above) replaced Reinazaka’s original, much smaller wooden church structure.

“During the same years that Uemura and the Ichibancho Church planned and built the Fujimicho Church, [former Doshisha University president and] Reinanzaka Church pastor Kozaki Hiromichi was also actively envisioning a new and much enlarged Reinanzaka Church building. During the late 1890s, the church had narrowly survived, but Kozaki believed that a new building could hold the key to revival.

“In order to raise funds for and build what was most surely among the most expensive Japanese Protestant churches in Japan, Kozaki clearly required a vision. He made that vision clear to his congregation, leaving evidence of the objectives and priorities behind the new Reinanzaka building project.

“In a 1908 sermon titled ‘The Necessity of a Great Church’, he underlined this need and expressed his dream to have a church with ‘1000 attendees for [Sunday] service.’ … Evidently, the time had come to achieve that result, and he worked with the same Professor Tatsuno selected by Yokoi and the Hongo congregation in 1890-91 to make this building a reality.

“Rather than imitating a particular American church structure or one of the several impressive Western churches that missionaries had designed in Japan, Kozaki’s contribution to the plans for the new structure was based on the functions he hoped the church building would fill.

“… The pastor’s vision centered around a highly visible church building that would entice and cater to hundreds of educated Japanese … The newly completed [in 1917] Reinanzaka Church was a three-storied, cross-gabled, redbrick church. It rose above the other buildings in the area, leading one paper to refer to the church as the city’s ‘highest tower’ (saiko-to) in an article that included a sketch done by Usui Izo.

“Like the spires that adorned most Protestant chuch architecture in the United States during the nineteenth century, Reinanzaka’s bell tower was clearly one of the most notable and indentifiable features of the church … To add to the grandeur and appeal of this structure, the congregation opted to have Czechoslovakian stained glass in the arched windows.”
Church Space and the Capital in Prewar Japan, by Garrett L. Washington, 2022.

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