The Protestant Missions — September 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Question by a Buddhist Priest in Japan: Do foreigners attach a machine to the bodies of the pupils while they sleep?


Yokohama Kaigan Church

A statement made in May, 1875, said that there were then not less than ten places in Yokohama, twenty-five in Tokyo, ten in the Kobe-Osaka district, and five in other places, making fifty in all, where regular Christian  services were held as often as once a week, with audiences varying from twenty to two hundred in number. The people were rapidly losing all fear of governmental interference in religious matters, while their interest in the truths of Christianity seemed to be increasing.

The previous year, several chapels had been secured in Tokyo and Yokohama without any opposition from the Government, and a Protestant church building was in process of erection in Tokyo, the property being held by four trustees. The object of the building was distinctly avowed to be that of Christian worship, and a declaration to that effect had been presented to an officer of the City Government.* In July, 187s, the Church Missionary Society erected a church in Nagasaki. Its turret was surmounted by a cross, which was the more noteworthy because the city had been the place where the ceremony of trampling on the sacred symbol had formerly been most observed. Before this, indeed, the towers of the Roman Catholic Church were adorned with crosses; but at the time of its erection, in 1864, that building had been looked upon by the officials as intended for the use of foreigners.

Another church built at this time was in Yokohama. Known as the Union Church, and also as the Kaigan Church, it served for more than thirty years as a place of worship for the foreign community and also for the oldest Japanese church. Of the $8,000 expended in its construction, $1,000 came from the Christians of the Sandwich Islands, who, on hearing of Commodore Perry’s expedition, had contributed money to be used, whenever possible, for a church building in Japan; $1,000 had been contributed by Hon. Townsend Harris, in 1861, under like conditions; $500 by Hon. R. H. Pruyn, Mr. Harris’s successor; and $50 by British seamen.

Robert H. Pruyn: President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Minister to Japan in 1861, and he served in that capacity until 1865, when he returned to New York. His crowning achievement were the negotiations following the Shimonoseki bombardment. He was considered highly successful in his dealings with the Shogun.

The same year saw the erection of two buildings for the use of girls’ schools. Mention has already been made of the day-school taught by Miss Kidder, in Yokohama. Feeling that much more could be accomplished if the pupils were brought more constantly under helpful influences, she leased an acre of land from the local government and applied to her home church for funds to be used in the erection of a boarding department. The Sunday-school children of America responded to this call, so that in June, 1875, a building with accommodations for forty pupils was formally opened. At first the pupils numbered fourteen, all of whom had before attended the day-school. The boarders paid three dollars a month for rooms, fuel, light, food, washing, and tuition; they furnishing their own clothing, bedding, books, and stationery. Common-school branches were taught in English, and there was also instruction in Japanese and Chinese. Daily religious services were held.

In Kobe Miss Talcott and Miss Dudley of the American Board Mission had taught classes of girls since 1873 ; but to them also it seemed that the time had come for a boarding school. They were encouraged to go forward by the interest that was shown by Japanese friends, who contributed eight hundred yen for the building, a yen at that time being worth nearly as much as an American gold dollar. Other money came from America. In order to make the sum at the disposal of the mission go as far as possible, the building was made very plain, the contract with the carpenter stipulating that there was ” not to be a moulding on it or about it.” It was planned to accommodate thirty girls with their teachers. ” It was much too large for the faith of some good friends of the school, but in less than two years another building was imperatively demanded.” Towards the second building Japanese gave six hundred yen, while foreigners living in Kobe gave two hundred yen. For later buildings the Japanese have also contributed liberally.

These and other schools have often had to contend against opposition, jealousy, and suspicion. A few years after the opening of Ferris Seminary, as the school in Yokohama was called, the father of one of the pupils from the interior came and asked if he might see the buildings.

‘His conduct seemed somewhat peculiar, for he wanted to be shown every nook and comer. Finally he addressed the matron in the most confidential manner, saying that he had been told by a Buddhist priest that foreigners at the school where his daughter was had been sent out from their country to obtain a very precious drug, which could only be obtained from the bodies of Japanese girls; that it was very costly; and that was why they could put up such fine schools and take pupils at such low rates. ‘ Tell me truly,’ said he, ‘ for you too are a Japanese ; you must know of this, if it is true. Do these foreigners attach a machine to the bodies of the pupils while they sleep?'”

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