Garrett L. WashingtonMay 16, 2023
Church Space and the Capital in Prewar Japan
University of Hawaii Press 2022
Garrett Washington’s Church Space and the Capital in Prewar Japan (Hawai’i 2022) brings a fresh perspective to the question of Protestant Christianity’s outsized influence in modernizing Japan from almost the moment the centuries-long ban was lifted in the 1870s. Washington roots his research in the physical space of Protestant houses of worship in Tokyo, exploring the ways that the churches became distinctively Japanese spaces and institutions that nurtured discourses and practices that affected the social, intellectual, and political development of Japan during the four decades of 1880-1920 that are the focus of the book.
Church Space begins with the creation of churches in the treaty ports and their migration into the centers of the new imperial capital, and examines the ways in which Western-style buildings commissioned by Japanese pastors came to house congregations with many elite and influential members who together wrestled with the role of Protestant Christianity in the development of modern Japan. Washington shows that both pastoral and lay discourses―especially in the spaces of women’s and youth groups―were linked robustly to the public lives of the congregants and the ways in which urban Japanese Protestantism impacted the course of Japan for decades.
Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.