Little star of Bethlehem
I’ve lived in Tsu for more than four years now and I had no idea that tucked away down the side-streets in the next suburb was a glorious 100 year old church that looks like it was plucked from the American Midwest. There’s even a tale of trial and tribulation to go with it’s existence that stretches far beyond it surviving the American bombings during WWII.
Completed in 1912, this beautiful pale green wooden Protestant church was constructed in memorial of the then pastor’s son, John Eugene Hail, who was tragically killed the previous year in a volcanic eruption whilst hiking Mt Asama, Japan’s most active volcano.
His father, Rev Alexander Durham Hail, came to Japan as a missionary in 1878 but was originally from Illinois, hence the architectural connection. Rev A.D. Hail spent 44 years preaching across the Kansai region in Osaka, Wakayama and Mie. He lies buried in the country he gave so much to, in a cemetery in Osaka.
If you happen to be passing by Tsu this festive season, Akogi Church hosts a small Christmas illumination festival on Christmas Eve, a tradition that has been going for over 50 years. Be sure to stop by. More details on their website here: Akogi Church (in Japanese)