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Orthodox Mission in Tokyo
White samurai of St. Nicholas
A seminary for the training of Japanese clergymen at the Orthodox mission in Tokyo was opened at the initiative of the passionate preacher of Orthodoxy, Archimandrite Nikolai (I.D. Kasatkin) in 1875. For more than 20 years, she fulfilled her task, until in February 1902, on the eve of the inevitable war, the Russian military command turned to Father Nikolai with a request to accept two Russian boys into the seminary to train them as translators from the Japanese language. Vladyka agreed, at the same time setting conditions, which he strictly observed: Russian disciples were to lead a lifestyle usual for a seminary. The military department paid for the low cost of maintaining the "fellows" who soon arrived in Tokyo: Fyodor Legasov and Alexei Romanovsky.
From the diaries of St. Nicholas it is obvious what sincere sympathy he felt for his first Russian disciples. At the very end of the war, when tens of thousands of Russian prisoners of war were in Japan, but free Russians were still only three for the whole of Japan: they and Vladika Nicholas, the "Cossacks" on assignment from the head of the mission assisted in translations, and the archbishop noted their progress in the Japanese Language: "At the exam in 3-I class seminary in civil history; 32 pupil and two Russian. Class is good, many capable; Almost all responded well. Russian - Romanovsky and Legasov - are on par with the Japanese; They learned the same thing and spoke almost as fluently as they did. "
After completing their emergency training, the seminarians left for their places of service, and here again it is worth quoting their teacher: “June 14/27, 1906. Wednesday. In the morning, sent to Vladivostok, through Tsuruga, from the seminary, pupils Theodor Legasov and Andrei Romanovsky, whom in 1902 had been sent here from Port Arthur as 14-year-old boys to learn the Japanese language and become translators, Admiral Eug. Yves. Alekseev. They began to speak Japanese just like the Japanese; learned the written language before reading newspapers and easy books; in addition, they received a general education with the local seminarians ... They were sent here for two or three years, but stayed four; I wanted to bring them to the end of the seminar course, but they were already bored here, although the comrades were very good with them, even during the war they treated them delicately. They lived here at school in a completely Japanese way - in a Japanese dress, on Japanese food, and were always healthy. "
In place of the first two, whole groups of future dragoman interpreters set off for the seminary, the need for which in the army clearly showed the Russian command the lost war. The exact number and composition of the Russian pupils of the Tokyo Orthodox Seminary is still a mystery - none of the documents available today contains exhaustive information on this topic. Surname to us we know 23 rights, of which at least 10 have been deducted for various reasons: from the inability to the Japanese language to obscene behavior. In the latter case, each such incident was a blow to the image of the seminary, the church and Russia as a whole, but the lord was adamant, believing that the Russian seminarian should represent the homeland only in an exemplary way and in no other way.
Father Nicholas was not always satisfied with the quality of the "material" for training. The diaries are full of records that some Russian students can not cope with seminary training, where even in their free time they could not talk to each other in their native language: only in Japanese! On the other hand, we know about some of the seminarians only thanks to the fact that once their answers in the exams struck St. Nicholas: "In the morning, I examined the 2 class of the seminary, 12 person, according to sacred history; All answered well. Examined with them and two Russian, of which Skazhutin so well and in such a correct language answered in Japanese that if you do not look at him, but only listen, you will not know what the Japanese is saying. "
The question of how much the seminarians themselves fell in love with Japan remains open, but somehow most of them have linked their lives with this country. At the same time, the biographies of the graduates of the seminary, known to us, reveal pictures of amazing devotion to their homeland, patriotism, which is not always believed from the standpoint of today.
The already mentioned Isidor Neznaiko graduated from seminary in 1912 and went to the capital of "Russian China" - Harbin, where he served at the headquarters of the Separate Border Guard District "with his distinctive diligence, accuracy and conscientiousness, showing in all cases (according to the Japanese) excellent knowledge Japanese language ". Professor D. M. Pozdneev, who once took his exams in Tokyo, fulfilling the instructions of the Soviet military intelligence in Manchuria in 1926, wrote about him: “With regard to the Japanese language <...> there is one employee Neznaiko for the entire CER, who is acceleration and now has long been absent from the translation room, as it is associated all the time with the Mukden conferences. " Throughout his further service (and I. Ya. Neznaiko served until 1954 on various sections and branches of the Chinese railways), he headed the translation departments, amazing with his perfect command of the Japanese language. Here is a funny and very characteristic clipping from an article in one of the Harbin newspapers: “Isidor Yakovlevich Neznaiko is a complete“ unknown ”. His Japanese speech immediately evokes the lush chrysanthemums and almond-shaped eyes of adorable geishas. No wonder even the Japanese, getting acquainted with I. Ya. On the street, at the end of the conversation ask him to take off his hat to make sure by the color of his hair that he is not their compatriot. Of course, I. I." he took the Japanese language very seriously. This is evidenced by his publication in Shanghai in 1942, "Textbook of Practical Nippon Language with the Appendix of Practical Conversations and a Dictionary," where the foreword expresses gratitude to the teachers of the Tokyo Seminary. At the end of his life, Neznaiko returned to his homeland - to the Soviet Union, where he died in 1968, becoming one of the few Japaneseists who were not affected by the repression. But it was only in 2012 that his grandson received documents from the archive showing that all his life I. Ya. Neznaiko carried out the mission entrusted to him when he was sent to the seminary - "... was a secret signalman" with the Russian and Soviet intelligence agencies in China ...
Rehabilitated relatives and another shot in 1938, the former seminarian - Trofim Yurkevich. During his studies at the seminary, he was among the best in the Japanese language, and it was not by chance that Vladyka Nicholas chose it, when the hero of Port Arthur and Mukden Marshal Oyama addressed the seminary with a request to find a Russian teenager who could tell his son about Russia. Trofim Yurkevich before the revolution managed to finish still the Eastern Institute, becoming one of the first Russian licensed saponists, and the Orenburg Cossack School. Sotnik Yurkevich met the Civil War, conducted her "adjutant for Cossack affairs" at Kolchak headquarters and in the military communications department of the Japanese expeditionary corps in Vladivostok, while remaining ... an agent of the "R" of the Far Eastern Bolshevik intelligence.
His friend and compatriot of the Sakhalinites, Vasily Oschepkov, remains today the only well-known student of St. Nicholas of Japan. His biography was devoted to the article "The Chatterbox, who knew how to unleash languages" in the June issue (No. 2 (23), 2012) of the journal "Russia in the Asia-Pacific Region". Books are written about this person, performances are staged, one day they will definitely make a movie. On the days of the APEC summit in Vladivostok in September 2012, the first monument to Vasily Oshchepkov as a propagandist of Japanese judo and Soviet sambo was unveiled in one of the sports complexes of the capital of Primorye.