The Anglican mission to Japanese ex-pats living in Brazil is celebrating its centenary this year. To celebrate the anniversary the Primate Bishop of the Nipon Sei ko Kai (NSKK), the Anglican Church in Japan, Bishop Luke Muto, accepted an invitation from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB), to attend a series of celebratory events.
The mission began on 13 March 1923 when a Japanese immigrant, the Revd João Yasoji Ito, held the first Japanese language Anglican worship services at Dr Shinichi Murakami’s dental clinic in the Liberdade district of São Paulo. Six people attended that service. Since then, “countless people and families came to know the love of God and lived their lives of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, with concrete acts of communion and sharing,” the IEAB said.
Earlier this year, Bishop Luke Muto and his wife Kazumi visited Japanese communities of temples and chapels in Brazil to see the fruit and development of that missionary work.
The RevdValériaRomão, Rector of All Saints, Manga Larga, in the city of Registro, whose building is a national heritage site, hosted a celebratory gathering at the beginning of the visit, attended by the Bishop of São Paulo, Cézar Alves, the Mayor of Registro, NiltonHirota and his wife, ElianeYamamaru, as well as members of the local community. After a community lunch the group visited a traditional tea plantation.
Large scale Japanese migration to Japan began in the early 20th century, after a migration treaty was signed between the two countries. At the time, Japan was experiencing significant poverty following the end of feudalism, and Brazil was struggling to find labour for its coffee plantations. The new immigrants soon extended their product from just coffee to include strawberries, tea and rice. There are around two million Japanese Brazilians, or Nipo-brasileiros, giving Brazil the largest Japanese population outside Japan itself.
Mayor NiltonHirota said: “It was a very pleasant Sunday, when I had the opportunity to strengthen my spirituality and renew my energies.”
Over the next few days the Primate Bishop and his wife visited a number of Brazilian Japanese communities, in Curitiba, São Tiago, Paraná, and Foz do Iguaçu, where they saw the triple border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and visited the Anglican Chapel of Saint Augustine of Canterbury.
Bishop Luke presided over a Japanese language Eucharist in the Church of Santo André Parish in Pereira Barreto.The Primate of Brazil, Bishop of the AmazonMarinezBassotto, presided over a Thanksgiving Celebration at Saint John’s Parish, attended by the entire House of Bishops of the IEAB.
In a sermon, Bishop Like emphasised the importance of feet – togo out to meet people to proclaim the Gospel, and once again recalled with affection and gratitude the centennial of the Japanese mission in Brazil and the historical connection that exists between the two countries.
“Last Sunday I went to Registro on a four hour trip,” he said. “A stretch of road is not paved and in some parts it is muddy. . . I wondered what the road was like, what Revd Ito’s trip was like a hundred years ago to Registro and then to Manga Larga. His shoes were certainly covered with dust or mud.
“Coming to Brazil I could see that Revd Ito’s work was harder than I imagined in Japan, and, back here again, I was thinking how happy the people were to receive his visit from so far awaybecause hedidn't forget and visited them.”
Before returning to Japan, Bishop Luke and his wife visited the grave of that first missionary, João YasojiIto, and his family, for a moment of reflection and prayer.