The Eastern Orthodox is a minority in Japan. However, it played an important role in the modernization of architecture. This paper aims to review their early architectural activities, and further to uncover the influences they received from the Russian architect whose name was Mikhail Aref'evich Shchurupov.
The architecture of Orthodox Church in Japan began from the conversion of existing private houses to chapels. The eclectic chapels followed them. The Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, designed by Shchurupov, made an epoch in the history of architecture in Japan. Needless to say, its greatest impact was on the Orthodox Church itself. The believers opened their eyes to the authentic western architecture. The churches at each stage can be seen in Kashiwa, Ishinomaki, and Odate.
Shchurupov left a number of churches in Russia. Three of them, still existing around St. Petersburg, show the trajectory on which he explored the lightweight and inexpensive structure to build churches for the economically challenged parishes facing difficult geological conditions. At first, he showed a structural rationalism. Then, he tried to build a dome with wood. At last, he reached to the steel structure.
At the Orthodox Churches, the division of interior space is emphasized and visualized. Each space symbolically plays various roles during the liturgy, and gives the believers the pseudo experience of the visit of heaven, which enables them to pass the faith across generations. The fact that the early believers in Japan projected the vision of paradise to the nave of their chapel means that they had reached the essence of church architecture.
Shchurupov's architectural features were suitable to the Orthodox Church in Japan in various difficulties as a religious minority. His idea and concept reflected in the Resurrection Cathedral enabled the believers in Japan to maintain their worship facilities for a long time.
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