The Japanese-American Actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa of "Mortal Kombat" movies baptized Eastern Orthodox Christian

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Photo by Anna Galperina



Actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa who starred in the movie “Priest-San: a Samurai’s Confession” accepted baptism in the Russian Orthodox Church. The sacrament was performed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. The newly-baptized man received the name of Panteleimon.

The actor also stated earlier that he was going to take Russian citizenship.

“Taking Russian citizenship has become a new trend, but my decision was made from the heart. It is a result of a long life and understanding that heart and soul are the most important in life. There are no easy decisions in the world and everything is hardly simple in America. This is a new test,” the actor said during his press conference about the opening of “Priest-San: Samurai’s Confession”.

“It is not easy to become Orthodox either, considering the number of religious conflicts around the world.   As for me, the opportunity to become an Orthodox Christian and to find my people is a sign of God. It does not matter whatever the tests are. I accept them as a true Japanese warrior,” Mr. Tagawa pointed out.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is an American actor of Japanese descent. He is mostly known for playing villains in action movies shot at the end of the 1980s and the middle of the 1990s. He also appeared in the series “Star Trek: The New Generation”, Thunder in Paradise, Baywatch, and also in the episode “Convictions” in “Babylon 5”. He starred in Mortal Kombat, Pearl Harbor, and Memoirs of a Geisha.

“Priest-San: a Samurai’s Confession” is a Russian movie. It is to come out in theaters on November 26, 2015. Father Ivan Okhlobystin was a script writer and played the part of the villain. Boris Grebentshikov was the record producer. The movie is rated unsuitable for children under 16. The main character, Takuro Nakamura, Father Nikolai in baptism, (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), is a priest of the Japanese Orthodox Church, brother of the head of a powerful clan of Yakuza, and a former professional sportsman. Having come to Russia, Father Nikolai unites local residents of a village around a nearly destroyed church and acts as their protector in a conflict with local criminals.



From the movie “Priest-San: a Samurai’s Confession”



Date of Birth 27 September 1950, Tokyo, Japan

Scenes from the Baptism:

The Russian connection

I have Russian history in my family. My father studied Russia while he was in US military. My uncle, who was famous singer in the 60's came to Moscow every year during those years with concerts. He also spoke and sang songs in Russian, so he is also the part of my Russian history. So I'm just continuing legacy of my ancestors in Russia.

One thing that impressed me immediately was the depth and the soul of Russian people. This is what I identified first and foremost with my experience here and the Russian people. Your soul, heart and mind are very different from the Western American mind that I know and absolutely different from the Western European heart that I know. You come from an energy that I identify with completely. And it comes from my warrior Japanese heart and mind.

Not soldiers, but warriors

While I was growing in America, I used my warrior heart and mind to survive. And although it was different from my Japanese side I learned to grow my Japanese side very much while in America. But when I came to Russia, immediately I felt the connection of heart and soul to be very very similar. And the one thing I realized, especially, that we share together is the warrior heart and mind you are not soldiers, you are warriors, as we are warriors.

I have experienced so much love and respect from Russian people. In a much deeper and soulful way than I have the welcome in America. In that way I feel very much one with you.

Full circle of Christianity

Later today I will accept Orthodox Church into my religious experience and my experience will be full circle of Christianity within my life. Because when we first came to America my father was military my father served in the United States military and was stationed in Hawaii. My mother's side of family was very strongly Japanese, very samurai energy and very imperio-japanese-navy energy. So in my family we have two sides: US army, Japanese Navy. That gap is massive. But as as a child that was my destiny to bring that energy together in myself the best of both.

I grew up in hell

And not only that, I was raised in Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina - in the worst part of America. To me what was happening in the South when I came to America in 1955 was unbelievable. So I say this very seriously, without hesitation, I grew up in hell. So when it comes to the idea of soul, heaven and God it was immediate to me, an experience in America and not just talking about (it). And the thing that save me was my mother's guidance to always be proud that I am Japanese. Also, never surrender, always be victorious. It's a lot for a six year-old.

But somehow I made my way in America through not fighting and not giving up. And my option was to lead in the position... in first grade... in second grade... all my elementary years. I did not quit, I did not fight. I chose to lead the whole group. It was not easy, but there was success. And with that success it did not mean I fit in, it just meant I succeeded. So, it doesn't mean that people understood me, or people respected me, just mean that I succeeded. So anything that was lacking from that positive response, I made up for it within myself.

And anything that I did not connect in a deep way with American culture, I connect with you. I feel the respect and the love of the Russian people... for the Japanese, also our principles, the honor. When I see the Russian martial artists and fighters, I immediately understand, and they understand me.

Mother Russia

Because of that connection that I have with Mother Russia, not just Russia, Mother Russia I want to be part of you. I want to bring my love, my respect and any talents that I have, including acting and other talents. Also as a teacher. Because I am an old man, I can teach. So today with my acceptance of the Orthodox Church a new relationship with God coming full circle from Christianity in America that I want to announce that I am going to see Russian citizenship. I know it seems like Hollywood trend. Sportsmen from America. You know... I think this is something new and trendy. But it is new trend.

My decision comes from a long life of struggle and pain and knowing that, no matter what, our soul and heart is most important. I understand there some difficulties in the world. There's conflict... it's not anything simple. But neither was growing up in America. So this is another challenge. 
To become Orthodox Christian is also not easy at this moment. Considering we have so much religious conflict in the world today.

The Sign from God

But my life has always been filled with conflict and conflict resolution. And it is the sign from God that the opportunity appeared to become Orthodox. So, the opportunity to connect with God, on the human level to connect with part of my own people. And no mater what the challenge is, not matter what the difficulties are, I accept them as a Japanese warrior. An I tank you and appreciate your support.

The meaning of the word samurai comes from the word serve.

"I am not afraid, but a little nervous. I feel I am making the right move. This decision is important to me"

 - Said Tagawa before entering the Joy of All Who Sorrow church in Moscowas reported by RIA Novosti: []



The soul of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, best known for the part of evil sorcerer Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat movies, has been captured by Russia – he has apparently decided to be baptized into the Orthodox Church.

Tagawa, an American actor of Japanese descent, who took part in a new Russian film called The Priest-San, decided to abandon his faith and become a true follower of Jesus Christ’s orthodox teachings, Interfax reports.

The news was spread via Facebook by one of his colleagues, Ivan Okhlobystin, an actor and prominent Russian religious figure. He shared a photo of Tagawa taken with a giant cross, probably snapped during filming not far from Moscow.

“I’m happy to say that… after deep and thorough consideration Cary Tagawa, who played the part of the Japanese orthodox priest in our new film The Priest-san, will take the Sacrament of Holy Baptism,” his post goes.

You cannot just grasp the essence of the Russian Orthodox... When I first came to Russia I had very little time to get into the character. So I visited a number of Russian cathedrals in Yaroslavl and Rostov. Simply being inside had a very powerful effect on me,” Tagawa said in an interview to in 2013 when the shooting in Russia was done.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa received a baptismal name of Panteleymon, Okhlobystin wrote on his Facebook page.

Tagawa also expressed his intention to become a Russian citizen at a press conference, according to Orthodox news website

“I’m not following the new trend,” he said, most likely alluding to American boxer Roy Jones Jr and French actor Gerard Depardieu. “I follow my heart. There are no easy decisions either in America, or anywhere else in the world. This will be a new challenge for me.”


The film, soon to hit screens in Russia, tells the story of a Japanese priest, who leaves Japan due to Yakuza wars and heads for a small Russian town to help its locals fight rampant corruption. The movie is the latest project from the "Orthodox" producing studio.




Metropolitan Hilarion and newly baptized Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in the altar
the Holy of Holies of every Orthodox church building accessible only to Orthodox men. Photo by Anna Galperina
the Holy of Holies of every Orthodox church building accessible only to Orthodox men. Photo by Anna Galperina (2)


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