Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church – Karuizawa, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church

Karuizawa, Japan

An unusual structure of stone and glass honoring one of Japan’s most eminent Christian leaders who founded the non-church movement. 

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In the upscale resort town of Karuizawa, an otherworldly structure reigns supreme as one of its top wedding venues. A domino effect of stone arches and glass panels, the unique chapel lies in the forest like the ruins of an ancient advanced civilization, collecting moss on its firm surface.

The Stone Church, as it is commonly known, was built in 1988 in honor of Uchimura Kanzō, the Japanese Christian evangelist who founded the Nonchurch Movement in 1901, promoting the philosophy that religion should not be building-oriented, that where you pray is the church.

Fascinated by his ideology, American architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg designed the Stone Church to reflect the philosophy of the non-church movement, as a man-made structure that seamlessly integrates itself into the green nature of Nagano that surrounds it, with its two materials—stone and glass—representing male and female, respectively.

Despite its name, the Stone Church is not really a church. Composed of a secular chapel with a memorial hall honoring Uchimura Kanzō’s legacy, it’s a divine space nonetheless, no wonder that it came to be such a popular wedding venue.

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October 9, 2023

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