Christmas originated as a religious event, with families celebrating the holiday together by going to mass at church. Some people might think you cannot enter a church if you are not a Christian, but churches are open to the public when there are worship services or other events. You are welcome to visit as long as you behave properly, keeping in mind that a church is a place for performing religious rites. If you’ve never been inside a church, Christmas is the perfect time to visit or even attend a mass.
Fukuoka is home to several historical churches, including Fukuoka Kego Church, winner of the 2006 Fukuoka City Urban Beautification Award. Covered in ivy, the church was built in 1885, making it the oldest Protestant church in Fukuoka. The current chapel was built in 1929, and it also houses a pipe organ.
W.M. Vories was an American architect who lived and worked in Japan in the early 20th century, and he was involved in the construction of several churches around Japan. Some of his handiwork includes Fukuoka’s own Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church-Hakata, Fukuoka Shakemachi Church, Japan Baptist Fukuoka Christian Church and Japan Baptist Higashi-Fukuoka Church. The successor to Vories’s firm handled the reconstruction of Fukuoka Chubu Church, and like Vories’ other work, it maintains a unique retro style.
Several Christian schools also have chapels where worship services are regularly conducted. Seinan Gakuin University in Sawara-ku and Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University in Minami-ku both have chapels with beautiful pipe organs. One chapel of a slightly different variety is the bridal chapel at Hotel Nikko Fukuoka. It has its own music director who invites musicians from overseas for regular concerts. The chapel also celebrates Christmas with a concert—perfect if you’re looking for a fun and casual way to spend the day.
Originally published by Fukuoka Now (December 2013).