What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

The Japanese Orthodox Church received autonomy from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, in the same year its founder, Russian missionary Nikolai Kasatkin, was canonized. Services in Japanese Orthodox churches are conducted mainly in Japanese, and churches are open for prayer not only to Orthodox but also to other Christian denominations.

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What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

1. Holy Resurrection Cathedral (Nikorai-do), Tokyo, 1891

Japan's most famous Orthodox cathedral is located in a vibrant Tokyo area and is named after Nikolai Kasatkin (Nikolai of Japan), the 19th-century Russian missionary who began its construction. M.A. Shchurupov, a professor of architecture from St. Petersburg, drew up a project for the cathedral, and V.M. Peshekhonov, a court painter from St. Petersburg, painted icons for a three-tiered wooden iconostasis. The bells were also brought from Russia. The cathedral was badly damaged by a strong earthquake in Kant in September 1923, which claimed many lives. The bell tower collapsed and broke through the dome, and a terrible fire destroyed the interior, but fortunately, the cathedral was later rebuilt. For the first time in 90 years, new bells, cast in the Yaroslavl region, were installed last year.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

2. Church of the Resurrection of Christ, Hakodate, 1859.

This is the first Orthodox church in Japan. It was founded as a consular chapel in 1858, at the same time as the opening of the first Russian consulate in Japan. Nicholas of Japan served here from 1861-1869. Due to the sound of its bells, which was so unusual for Japan, the locals began to call it "Gan Gan-dera" or "ding-dong church". In 1907, the church burned to the ground during a deadly fire in Hakodate, but thanks to Nicholas of Japan, a new brick church was built in its place shortly before his death.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

3. Annunciation Cathedral, Kyoto, 1903

The interior of this cathedral has remained virtually unchanged since 1903 and features an elegant white iconostasis. The cathedral contains icons of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, donated by Russian prisoners of war who remained here during the Russian-Japanese war, as well as relics received as a gift from John of Kronstadt.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

4. Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Sapporo, 1971.

This church boasts the largest collection of icons by the Japanese icon painter Yamashita Rina (1857-1939, baptized as Irina). Rin came from a samurai family and was the first Japanese woman to study in Russia, where she completed an internship at an icon painting workshop in St. Petersburg. Throughout her life, Rin created many works, including an icon that was presented to Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich on the occasion of his visit to Japan in 1891. Her work can be found in many Orthodox churches throughout Japan.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

5. Church of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, Toyohashi, 1915.

The Church of St. Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist in Aichi Prefecture stands out for its interesting architectural details. For example, the decor of the parts of the facade, where the pilasters intersect with the vertical stripe, is typical of the traditional Japanese style. Interestingly, this church was built by the same architect as the church in Hakodate, Moses Kawamura.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

6. Holy Epiphany Church, Nagoya, 2010.

The first iteration of this church, built-in 1913, burned to the ground in an air raid during World War II. The new stone church was built in the traditional Russian style and resembles the medieval churches in Suzdal.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

7. Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Tokoshima, 1980.

The church is located on the island of Shikoku, a traditional Buddhist stronghold. You can also see the icons of Yamashita Rin.

What do Orthodox churches in Japan look like?

8. Eastern Orthodox Church of Shuzenji, Holy Temple of Kenya, Izu, 1912.

The Izu Peninsula, famous among tourists for its hot springs, also has an Orthodox church. It was built in 1912 in just three and a half months. At that time, Nicholas of Japan fell seriously ill, and local believers tried to build a church as soon as possible in order to pray for his health. An iconostasis and a chandelier from a former military church in Port Arthur were installed, and here you can also see a picture of Yamashita Rin's crucifixion.

Keywords: Church | Japan | Asia | World | Travel | Country | Orthodox | Architecture | Design | Art

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