Saturday, February 12, 2011

HAKODATE - West Meets East- Part 1

Hakodate in southern Hokkaido, Japan was one of the first ports open to foreign traders in the mid 1850's. Americans, British and Russians settled in Hakodate and built western style buildings and churches in the hilly Motomachi section. Today they are one of the city's tourist attractions.

One of the many slopes (streets) up to the churches of Hakodate. We turned around half way up and looked back down the slope.

Entrance to the Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church (1919) also called Gan-gan dera. Inside were paintings of Orthodox saints and religious figures and an elaborate altar with carved icons. No photos allowed inside.

Another view of the church.

A closer view of the green onion domes and spires.

Just down the street is the modern looking Hakodate Episcopal Church. Also in this area is a Roman Catholic Church and a United Church of Christ in Japan.

At the corner of another slope (street) is the Hakodate branch of the Higashi-Hongan Buddhist Temple. The main temple is in Kyoto. Also you can see the lookout area on the top of Mount Hakodate.

A closer view of the Temple.

Below is a Shinto Shrine I spotted in this area of Hakodate.

It's interesting that Rough Guide Japan and an informative Japanese & English publication, Romantic Hakodate, we were given at the Hakodate Tourist Information Çenter mention the Christian Churches but not the Buddhist Temple or Shinto Shrine. Part 2 of this photo essay will be the non religious western style buildings.


YTSL said...

Nice pics which show a different side of Japan from the stereotypical mono-cultural Japanese one.

Why weren't photos allowed inside the Russian Orthodox Church? Are a lot of items there particularly portable and/or perishable? Here in Hong Kong, I encounter many Chinese temples that are that way and think it's such a pity that way... and also strange since in temples to the same gods and goddesses in Macau, Malaysia, etc., it's been okay to take photos inside of them.

sbk said...


I don't know. Many religious places in Japan don't allow photography. Flash photography over a period of time can do damage to some types of artifacts but why not allow non flash photos. It could be a safety issue to keep would be theives at bay.A few places sell photo cards and books of the interiors. Never the ones I'd buy...