2021 Volume 86 Issue 790 Pages 2743-2754
In 2017, the author found a number of documents and drawings dated from the early 20th century in the storage of the Catholic Diocese of Fukuoka, Japan. The archival materials included documents, photos and drawings of the church buildings, which were built in the early 20th century but were already demolished or lost due to the war, natural disaster or rebuilding. Hence, they had long remained as a research gap. With these materials, the author decided to carry out a comprehensive study on building projects of the Diocese of Fukuoka. This article is the first outcome of the study.
The objective of this article is to reveal how the Catholic missionaries and Japanese master builders collaborated in construction of church buildings in the Catholic Diocese of Fukuoka, which became independent from the Diocese of Nagasaki in 1927 to take charge of the area of Fukuoka, Saga and Kumamoto prefectures. The Diocese of Fukuoka was administered by the Paris Foreign Missions.
Between 1927 and 1945, fifteen proper churches were built in Fukuoka, Saga and Kumamoto, which were Tetori, Yobuko, Madarajima, Matsushima, Moji, Oe, Shindenbaru, Yahata, Kokura, Josuidori, Sakitsu, Tobata, Omuta, and Daimyoumachi churches as well as the chapel of Hirao Gakuin. The archival materials indicated that, in the beginning of the Diocese, the missionaries took up schematic design of churches and they commissioned master builders from Nagasaki such as Yosuke Tetsukawa and Kawahara to do the technical development of design and construction works. The missionaries of the newly founded Diocese of Fukuoka already had worked with Tetsukawa and Kawahara in Nagasaki in the 1910-20s, hence, they invited those master builders to participate in the projects of the Diocese of Fukuoka. The examples to show the collaboration between missionaries and master builders are the projects of Madarajima and Yobuko churches: Fr. Joseph Breton wrote a letter to Bishop Thiry to explain how he planned to construct the churches of Madarajima and Yobuko in the late 1920s with simple drawings and cost calculation provided from the master builder Kawahara.
From 1931, when the second Bishop Albert Breton was appointed, he and other missionaries continued to do schematic design of new churches by themselves. On the other hand, they began to work with a local builder in Fukuoka. Even though the Bishop commissioned a professionally trained architect Jan Joseph Švagr to design several buildings of the Diocese in 1932, he never used Švagr or any other professional architect afterwards. Instead, he chose to continue to work with master builders from Nagasaki as well as local builders in Fukuoka. This was probably because of the shortage of finance of the Diocese: the most economical and simplest way to build churches was that the missionaries would do schematic design and master builders technically develop design and construct churches of wood instead of reinforced concrete without involving an architect. This also reflects the particular circumstance of the Diocese of Fukuoka, in which, as the Diocese was newly established, the missionaries needed to build many churches in a short period of time so that the church buildings would attract local non-Christian people by the distinctive western style architecture.