Acculturated Otherness. Christian Churches and Wedding Chapels in Modern Japanese Society
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Japanese government ended the centuries-long Japanese policy of isolation and initiated a rapid modernization effort that aimed to create a competitive Japanese nation state. In addition to such changes as new family law, compulsory education, and redistribution of property, the government contracted foreign experts with the goal of importing western knowledge. As a result, civil engineers, artists, and physicians started moving to Japan, as did missionaries. This resulted in intense cultural encounter and negotiation, in the course of which Christian faith and Western church architecture became acculturated in Japan. This article sketches the socio-cultural and technological parameters shaping Japanese Christian church buildings from the 1860s onwards as well as the transfer of meanings and forms from an explicitly Western tradition into a Western-looking and yet entirely Japanese tradition of Christianity. It sketches a second line of transfer as well, that reinterpreted the ‘church’ as an architectural form into the Wedding-Chapel-Romanticism of the non-Christian Japanese mainstream wedding industry.