“I love you for a thousand years and I will love you for a thousand years”. The lyrics may come from Christina Perri, but there is also a sense of divine, one that you may experience at the Tsuchizaki Gloria Chapel in Akita City.
With a name like ‘Gloria’, it is no wonder that this chapel has gospel music and hula dances. This is a place where different cultures and beliefs cross, and where they invite you to ask the questions in the crossroads of life. This is a church for the mind as well as the soul, with many regulars coming from Akita International University, one of the hottest up and coming bilingual Universities in Japan.
Like the University, this is one of the few places off the beaten track where both English and Japanese are spoken. While the minister doesn’t speak Japanese, the service is translated in English if you sit near the front. If you can read hiragana, you can join in the singing as well.
Besides the international students and staff from the university, there are Japanese people of all ages, singles, families, and everyone in between. It is multi-denominational in every sense of the word. While it is one of the largest churches in Akita, it is also small enough to be welcoming, with the forty or so parishioners gathering for lunch afterwards upstairs. What’s more, first timers can have lunch for free.
Tsuchizaki Gloria Chapel is relatively new on the scene, being consecrated late last century. On the other hand, as early as 1888 American missionaries were in the area, with the Akita Methodist Church established in the same year following in the footsteps of the Catholics and the Russian Orthodox Church. These days, it is the Gloria Chapel that is arguably the most dynamic place on Sundays.
Here is a message from the minister. “You are loved. There is a purpose to live for you. Please by all means find out what it is. True happiness is waiting there. Jesus knows all of you and will protect your mind and body this year as well as you are richly blessed.” It may be hard to believe, but the most frequent command in the good book is, “fear not”. Whether you are in the sunshine or the storm of life this chapel is a safe place for you.
To get to Tsuchiazki Gloria Chapel, take a bus or train to Tsuchizaki Railway Station. The train is faster and operates approximately every 30 minutes, being only one stop from Akita. From the station, take the west exit, cross the square and head to the library to the north. On a clear day, you may also see the Port Tower Selion to the west, so between that and the sunshine from the south, it should be easy to head north. There aren’t many signs pointing to the church, but there are for the library, which is five minutes walk from the railway station. The church, which has a modern brick appearance, is just one building north of the library.