Tokyo was not always the great city that it is today. Japanese history traces Tokyo’s history back to humble roots as a small fishing village, named Edo. Eventually, Edo would be over run with samurai which would lead to the construction of Edo Castle. This castle would become the home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, perhaps the most prolific Shogun in all of Japanese history. In the 1600’s Tokugawa would unite Japan under his rule from his headquarters in Edo. As part of Tokugawa’s rule he would ban the flourishing Christianity that had began to overtake the nation. This ban would lead to the almost complete absence of Christianity in Japan until the 1800’s. This would begin the Meiji restoration which would see the relocation of Emperor Meiji to Edo. At this time, Edo would become Tokyo and the nation’s capital would transition from Kyoto to Tokyo.
The 1800’s would see the re-entrance of foreign influence and Christianity to Tokyo. However, the Tokyo of the 1800’s was not the small village with humble roots that it once was. There was a reason that it had become the new capital. Tokyo had become the largest city in Japan and the center of economic, political and social influence. Emperor Meiji would see Tokyo grow even greater by starting an industrial revolution to catch up with the westerners who had recently re-entered Japan. This revolution seems to have only caught up in recent decades however due to fires, earthquakes and wars that caused much of Tokyo to be rebuilt throughout the early 1900’s.
Today, Tokyo still holds its place as the largest city in Japan. In fact, its influence reaches beyond Japan now to the rest of the world. Yet, the effects of Tokugawa’s ban on Christianity seems to still affect Japan today. There are over 27 million people in Tokyo today, yet only an estimated 120,000 of them claim to be Christian. We believe this is tragic and are seeking to change this.
This May as we travel to Tokyo would you pray that God would give us a vision for Japan as we seek out potential partners and church planting opportunities in this great city.