Japan Atlas: Architecture 


Location: Hakodate City, Hokkaido

Built: in 1859, rebuilt in 1916 


Japan's oldest, beautiful and majestic Russian Orthodox Church 

The Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church was founded as a chapel in 1859 in Hakodate City on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. It is Japan's oldest Russian Orthodox Church and has been recognized by the Japanese government as an Important Cultural Property.

At the time, the Russian Orthodox Church was the state religion of Russia, so when Russia established consulates overseas, churches were built and priests were also sent abroad. Japan and Russia established diplomatic relations in 1858, and because a Russian consul was transferred to Hakodate, the Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church was built. In 1907 the church burnt down in a fire, but was rebuilt in 1916.

The residents of Hakodate affectionately call after the church Gangan-dera (Ding-dong Temple) because of the church bell's distinctive sound.

The exterior of the building, in Russian Byzantine style with diverse elements, has a majestic and elegant atmosphere.

The main body of the church is square nave with a porch and the vestibule in the front and the alter in the back. Over the porch there is an octagonal bell tower. Although smaller in scale, it has the standard design and structure as other Russian Orthodox churches.

Photo: The exterior of Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church (Hakodate City)

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