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Christmas In Japan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 31 December 2007 06:01
This fascinating seasonal vignette from Japan comes via Asia News. Christmas has been nearly universally adopted as a national holiday in Japan as a result of US influence during the occupation after World War II. But it is an almost totally secular celebration. The three words used of Christmas are "illumination", "Santa", "presents"

But the church that is an example of a flowering oasis lies 25 kilometres from Fuchu, almost within the heart of the capital- It is the Church of St. Ignatius, run by the Jesuit fathers. For six months now the parish priest is a 70 Italian Fr. Domenico Vitali, who has spent the last 43 years in Japan. He entered the Jesuits after having read the biography of his compatriot: Fr. Matteo Ricci.

I knew that the Church of St. Ignatius is more or less the heart of Catholicism in Tokyo, but after meeting with Vitali I came to learn details that positively shocked me.

The Yotsuya quarter, where the Church lies, isn’t a residential area, but an office district. Even on working days, besides the morning masses there is midday mass and an evening mass at 6 pm: both are assiduously attended by employees from the local offices.

On the afternoon and evening of Christmas Eve, 6 masses are celebrating in order to cope with attendance.

“This year, Vitali told me; over 10.500 people took part in the celebrations: three quarters of them weren’t even Christians”. What lies behind this non-Christian affluence? Curiosity? No… All of those people were willing to withstand hours of queuing in the cold because they felt, instinctively, that Christmas is celebrated in the Church and not in restaurants or hotels.


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