Christmas Church Services in Tokyo

By Mark Ellis

For the most part, Japan is a non-secular country.  While there are traditional ties to Shintoism and Buddhism the lives of many are relatively religion free.  Although Japan is not a Christian country, during the holiday season Japanese people do celebrate Christmas.  Festive decorations deck the city in impressive illumination.  Santa Claus can be seen around every corner.  Outside of the neighborhood KFC there is usually a life-sized statue of Colonel Sanders playfully dressed in a Santa suit.  Traditional carols and popular holiday tunes fill the air.  You can also get a nice helping of Gospel music, which is sung as a celebration of joy and holiday cheer.  Department stores are packed with Christmas shoppers, just as they would be anywhere else in the Christian world.   In Japan, Christmas is a time to exchange gifts with friends, to celebrate at parties around the city, and to go out on a date.   On Christmas Eve young couples have been known to spend exorbitant amounts on five star dinners and hotels.  Because of this many of Tokyo’s restaurants raise their prices on Christmas Eve then lower them again on December 26th.

Although it would seem that religion has been removed from this important religious holiday, there are quite a few Japanese Christians.  If you would like to go to church services to celebrate the birth of Jesus then there are quite a few options available in English.

Tokyo Lutheran Church

This church is located in Shinjuku.  It is quite easy to get to from most parts of Tokyo.  This year Tokyo Lutheran Church celebrates its 100th anniversary.  It was founded in 1912 and moved to the present location in 1923.  The English Worship Service was started in 1988 to better serve the English speaking community.  English Worship with Holy Communion is on Sundays from 10:00am ? 10:50am.  English Fellowship time is from 11:00am ? 11:30am.  For more information about Christmas services please contact the church by phone, email or visit their website.

Saint Alban’s Anglican Episcopal Church

Saint Alban’s is centrally located near Tokyo Tower just a short walk from Kamiyacho Station on the Hibiya Subway line.  Just as their webpage will tell you, they have a lively multi-national English Speaking congregation.  In fact their site states that they are the only English-speaking congregation among the 35 Anglican churches and seven chapels in the Diocese of Tokyo.   The first congregation gathered in 1954 and services have continued till today.  Please call or email them for more information on Christmas services.   Contact information can be found on their website.

St. Ignatius Church

St. Ignatius Church is a one-minute walk from Yotsuya Station.  This church was established in 1949.  There are English and Japanese services available.  The church is also designed with many features that make it easily accessible for the handicapped.  As of December 31, 2011 the church has 14,878 parishioners.  Although English and Japanese are the main languages, services are also held in Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Polish.  The church building is a beautiful modern design and is situated on a lovely green estate.  For more information about Christmas services feel free to call or write.  All information can be found on their website.

Tokyo Union Church

The Tokyo Union Church is an ecumenical church that accepts all faiths.  It was founded in 1872 in Tsukiji.  It has developed into a ministry to Christians from many nationalities, races, and denominations.  Tokyo Union Church is a five-minute walk from Omotesando Station.  Christmas Eve candlelight services as well as Christmas day services in English are available.  For more information on the schedule and how to contact them please visit their website.

Photos by Marcellus Nealy