Japan Atlas: Architecture 
Nikolai Cathedral

Location: Chiyoda City, Tokyo 



A Byzantine Building in the Center of Tokyo  

The formal name is the Restored Cathedral of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Japan, but it usually goes by the name of Nicholai-do, named after St. Nicholai, the Russian missionary who was responsible for establishing the Eastern Orthodox Church in Japan. The magnificent structure is built in the Byzantine style in a form of a Greek cross. A Russian professor, Shchurpov, made the original drawings but Josiah Conder, who made a great contribution to the form of modern architecture in Japan in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and subsequent years, undertook the actual design and construction. Made of brick, stone, and roofed with copper sheetings the cathedral had a building area of 805 square meters (8,665 square feet) when it was finished in 1891. 

Nicholai-do commands an imposing site on a hill where a fire watchtower stood during the Edo period (1603-1868). Looking out over the city, it is loved by many as a landmark in Kanda Suruga-dai area. The building suffered serious damages during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and repairs were carried out according to a design by Shin'ichiro Okada in 1929. When the restoration was completed, the dome, the bell-tower, and part of the interior were altered, but the whole wall was virtually left as it was when the church was originally built. Japan's earliest real Byzantine-style church remains as beautiful as ever. 

Photo: Nikolai Cathedral (Tokyo Metropolitan Government). 

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