Kanzo Uchimura

Kanzo Uchimura

Bunkyō-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Death 28 Mar 1930 (aged 69)
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Burial Fuchu City, Fuchū-shi, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Plot 8-1-16-29
Memorial ID 6201059 · View Source
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Religious Leader. Christian evangelist and intellectual of the Meiji and Taisho eras. At an early age, he and some colleagues dedicated themselves to "The Two J's": Jesus and Japan. During his career Uchimura worked as a government official and male nurse. In 1885 he went to study in the United States at Amerst College and the Hartford Theological Seminary. He acquired the philosophy of J.B. Richards that one's work is not just employment, but a "holy mission arranged by God". During his time as a student at Amherst College, he wrote down the following expression on his favorite Bible: "I for Japan. Japan for the World. The World for Christ. And All for God." After returning to Japan, Uchimura taught in a number of schools in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but in each case left after a disagreement over principles deriving from his Christian orientation. He is remembered for a famous religious confrontation that occurred with his colleagues at the First High School (originally Tokyo English School, and later the preperatory school of Tokyo University) when his superiors felt he failed to show sufficient respect to the signature of the Emperor appended for a copy of the new Imperial Rescript on Education. The event was reported in the mass media, as well as Buddhist newsletters, as a disrespectful act by a Christian. This led to issues of conflict between Christianity and national policy. After becoming ill with a serious case of influenza, Uchimura realized that he could not continue as a teacher and resigned. He became a writer, and by 1897, he was the senior editor of the popular newspaper, "Yorozu Choho." He became an outspoken pacifist and resigned from this newspaper after its publisher endorsed the government's war-like policies leading up to the Russo-Japanese War. During his life-time, Uchimura published 357 monthly Seisho no kenkyu (Bible studies). The First World War convinced him of a need for more evangelistic efforts. For five years, he gave weekly address for audiences of 500 to 700 people in downtown Tokyo, discussing books of the Bible. His follwers came to identify Uchimura's viewpoint that the church was unnecessary and, at times, an impediment to the Christian faith. His word to describe his viewpoint, "Mukyokai," or Nonchurch Christianity, is still used in reference to his legacy. In February 1893, he wrote "Kirisuto shinto no nagusame" (Consolations of a Christian) which presented his world and personal views of Christianity. In 1895, he published "How I became a Christian," an autobiographical reissue of his previously published "Diary of a Japanese Convert." In 1897, he published "The Best Momento to Posterity." He urged one to leave a legacy of a life of courage and strong character for those who follow, instead of the exhaustive pursuit of money, entertainment, or secular philosophy. He demonstrated the value of living life in a way that was opposed to excessive emphasis on career and material pursuits. From February 1897 to May 1898, Uchimura served as the senior editor of the popular newspaper, "Yorozu Choho." During this time, he was an advocate of poor and suppressed small nations. Kanzo published "Tokyo Independent Magazine" from June 1898 to July 1900. He criticized the corruption, mammonism, narrow-minded patriotism and imperialism of Japan's upper echelon of society and that of a government that was deeply influenced by the Samurai system, the army and the wealthy aristocracy. He was an advocate of freedom, equality, high ethics and morals, and made friends with many common people, such as farmers, fishermen, merchants and rikisha drivers. Uchimura had planned to conduct meetings for readers of the Tokyo Independent Magazine, but after the magazine was discontinued, he held summer storytelling meetings instead. These were held in 1901 and 1902, and attended by many famous people. In 1900 Uchimura began publishing his own monthly, "Seisho no kenkyu" (Biblical Studies), of which he completed 357 editions prior to his death. Although from a Samurai family and originally a military advocate, he subsequently became a pacifist. Uchimura argued the futility of war, proclaiming that "War is a wild beast that is never satisfied." At the time of his death, he was initially buried at Zoshigaya Cemetery in Tokyo and later moved to the Tama Cemetery.

Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Warrick L. Barrett
  • Added: 21 Feb 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6201059
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Kanzo Uchimura (13 Feb 1861–28 Mar 1930), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6201059, citing Tama Cemetery, Fuchu City, Fuchū-shi, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan ; Maintained by Find A Grave .