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A Shinto Patriarch's Confrontation with Saint Nikolai Kasatkin
The promotion of the organization of Shinto into sects (kyōha Shinto) during the Meiji period was in part a measure taken against the rising influence of Christianity. With the ongoing influx of missionaries into Japan after the fall of the Bakufu government, and with the increasing numbers of Christians after the Meiji Restoration, some Shinto priests were of the mind that a form of cultural defense was necessary. Sano Tsunehiko, the founder of the Shinrikyō sect, was among those advocating such defense. His activities were centered in the Northern Kyushu region, however when he came to Tokyo in 1884, he paid a visit to Nikolai Kasatkin (1863-1912), who was propagating Russian Orthodoxy in Japan. Having heard a rumor that Nikolai had people step on a statue of the emperor while performing baptisms, one of Sano's motivations for this visit appears to have been to confirm or deny this rumor. Sano engaged Nikolai in doctrinal debate, but Nikolai, mistaking Sano's intentions as monetary, appears to have been a bit indignant. The interaction between the two was quite interesting, and each seems to have gained a sense of the strength of the other's religious convictions. Only Sano's side of the story of their interaction now remains, but the entire account as recorded by one of his disciples is included in Inoue Nobutaka's Kyoōha Shinto no Keisei [The Formation of Sectarian Shinto].
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