Shikoku RegionsMission in JapanMissionHome page
P 125, C 11
|With 1 church:||
|Church per pop.:||
|With no churches:||
|With 20,000 pop. & no churches:||
Ehime occupies the northwest region of Shikoku, facing the Inland Sea on the north and the Bungo Channel on the west. On the northeast are Kagawa and Tokushima prefectures, while its southeastern boundary touches Kochi at the Shikoku Mountain Chain. Its slender shape stretches 150 kilometers from northeast to southwest. Along the Inland Sea coastline, there are three major plains: Niihama, Imabari and Matsuyama. The Takanawa Peninsula lies between the Imabari and Matsuyama Plains. The Sata Cape is the tip of the Ishizuchi Mountain Chain, located in the west. The climate of the north is typical of the Inland Sea, while the south experiences the Pacific Ocean weather with heavy rainfall. Mt. Ishizuchi, Shikoku's highest peak, remains snow-capped till the end of April.
Although the agricultural industry is declining. Ehime still has more cultivated land and its gross product is higher than that of any other prefecture in Shikoku. The production of mikan (tangerines), ranks number one, supplying over 75% of the national production, and total fruit is the highest of the western prefectures. The fishery industry is healthy, with the highest haul in all of Shikoku. The ocean farming industry is also quite successful, accounting for 1/3 of the marine industry in the prefecture. Ehime is also a top producer of cultured sea bream and is the second highest producer of yellowtail tuna. The manufacturing industry has developed around the Niihama and Toyo districts.
Ehime is filled with ancient history. An example of this is that the Dogo Hot Spring in Matsuyama is mentioned in the Manyoshu, a collection of ancient poems known to be the oldest in the country. The climate is consistently mild and natural disasters are few. As a result the people of Ehime are said to be mild natured as symbolized by the name, Ehime, meaning "maiden." They are submissive to authority and tradition, emphatic on community issues, and yet very shy towards strangers.
Since many Ehime temples are included in the Shikoku Pilgrimage, there is no lack of interest in religion. However, it is rather surprising to find them open to other religions, since they are known to emphasize tradition and submission to authority. Ehime has one of the highest percentages of church attendance in all of Kinki, Chugoku, and Shikoku districts. Protestant missionaries first came to Shikoku in the early Meiji era, and the island's first church was started in Imabari in 1878. A mission school and churches from various denominations were established early in Matsuyaina.
The fact that the very first Protestant church in Shikoku was established here, along with certain historical and sociological influences should give us hope for the future of the church here. Matsuyama has hosted the All-Shikoku Christian Retreat and leaders from there still provide the impetus for its continuation. While Ehime, as a whole, is experiencing a population decrease, seven out of the 12 cities in the prefecture are growing. This population trend should influence future evangelistic planning.
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