Religion is a cultural form of beliefs and practices to maintain a custom that started from the aged era. Japan, as well as the people, highly honors the ancient practices and culture. However, who would have thought that in spite of their love for the past, Japanese people are still open to embracing other types of religions in the world. In fact, many churches all over the country area is at service since long years ago. One of the oldest churches I have found was the Matsugamine Church in Utsunomiya City.
Utsunomiya City's Matsugamine Catholic Church is located in Tochigi Prefecture. Utsunomiya Station is 2 hours away from Tokyo by regular train and 45 minutes by "Shinkansen 新幹線" or Bullet train.
Other than praying and joining the mass at Matsugamine, many foreigners are also purely captivated by its architectural form. It was built in 1932 by a Swiss Architect known as Max Hinder. Architect Hinder also designed the Jochi University and the Tokyo's St. Mary Hospital. The church has a distinctive aura for it is walled by Oh-ya Stones. Oh-ya stone (大谷石/Ohya Ishi) is made up of igneous rock, naturally formed from lava and ash, which was also used in building the famous Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The structure can endure enormous wind and provide warm feeling during winter season. Also, the interior part of the church is appealingly designed with flawless long wooden benches and polished crucifix behind the Priest's pulpit. A Crucifix which symbolizes Catholicism was well-placed in front of the church facing the audience. It was decorated by a colorful brace highlighted by luminous crystal chunks that give creative accent to the whole package. After mass, you may roam inside the church to experience and appreciate the elegancy of the place.
People say that "Old is Gold," this time it highly supports the premises. As time flies by, the stone's texture gets more exquisite that makes it valuable and eye-catching. The church's stability until this very moment proves that some things are better with age. If your eyes seek for a take-me-back-to-the-past vision of places, dare to visit this Church for it will surely feed your imagination. Travelers whom enjoy antique type of buildings and harmonious ambiance will absolutely relish a visit. One day of tranquility and intimacy of the anterior sanctuary can steal your blues and uneasiness away.
For interested visitors, daily Sunday mass is at 10:00 in the morning for Japanese attendees while 4:00 in the afternoon for Portuguese arranged by Japanese conductors. English Masses are also available during 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 2:00 in the afternoon. This time, some Filipino devotees are in-charge of the ceremony. In regard to parking area, left side of the church provides it for free. However, it might be full during Sundays or peak times because it can accommodate approximately 8-10 vehicles only yet charged parking slots are widely available around the Church's vicinity so there is nothing to mind about.
Aside from the fascinating excursion, you'd be able to get a chance to get in touch to other individual’s principles and faith regardless of whatever religion you are into or whoever you believe in. We have our own beliefs and traditions in life but what matter is we all share the same ground. That ground is about enjoying the greatness of what people can do with the pieces of the world.
Check out their website.
Address: 1 Chome-1-5 Matsugamine, Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture 320-0807, Japan
Telephone: +81 28-635-0405