Kyoto Orthodox Church (京都ハリストス正教会)
Kyoto Orthodox Church, located in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, is an Orthodox church of Japan (Greek Orthodox Church). The Cathedral of the Annunciation of Kyoto Orthodox Church is where the bishop of the western diocese is stationed, and is the oldest genuine Russian-Byzantine architecture among existent cathedrals and churches of Orthodox Japanese Churches (the meaning of 'the oldest' is mentioned below).
The history of missionary work of the Orthodox Church in Kyoto dates back to 1880's. Catechist Pawaeru NAKAKOJI and Catechist Masayoshi Kirill SASABA were engaged in the initial missionary work under the temporary supervision of John Sogoro ONO, the presiding priest of the Osaka Orthodox Church. A lecture hall was established in 1889. Sergius Sutoragodorosukii, a priest (title at that time) who later became the Metropolitan of Moscow, conducted pastoral activity at the Kyoto Orthodox Church.
Kyoto Orthodox Church Girls' School was established, but it does not presently exist.
In 1906, Andronik Nicolsky became the first bishop of Kyoto as an assistant of Nikolai Kasatkin, but he returned to Russia due to illness after only three months in office. After returning, Andronik was buried alive and shot death by the Bolshevik regime, and he was later canonized as a martyr.
Thereafter, Andronik was conferred the title 'Hieromartyr Andronik, Archbishop of Perm,' and he has been revered in the Japan Orthodox Church as 'Saint Andronik, the first bishop of Kyoto.'
Although 'bishop of Kyoto' is supposed to be stationed at this church, no bishop has being stationed as of September 2008 since Ikuo NUSHIRO, the 'archbishop of Tokyo and Metropolitan priest of Japan' who is the Primate of Japan Orthodox Church, is concurrently assuming the position.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Cathedral of the Annunciation was constructed in 1901 as the Kyoto cathedral of the Orthodox Church. It was designed by Shigemitsu MATSUMURO, who also designed including the former building of Kyoto Prefectural Office. The consecration was conducted on May 10, 1903 after the arrival of a Moscow-made iconostasis with 30 holy icons being inserted, church bells, and votive candles that were donated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Its architecture is Russian-Byzantine style and its maximum width, depth, and height are 15 meters, 27 meters and 22 meters respectively. Its gate, enlightenment hall, sanctuary, and holy of holies are placed in a straight line and they form the planar Cross with a sanctuary in the center.
Wooden flat house, Shitamiita-bari (weatherboard)
6-283, Nijo-agaru, Yanagibaba-dori, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Cultural properties designated by Kyoto City
Whether it is 'The oldest Byzantine Architecture' or not
An explanation is necessary for the first above description of 'the oldest genuine Russian-Byzantine architecture among the cathedrals of Japan Orthodox Churches.'
There is no doubt that the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Kyoto Orthodox Church is the oldest cathedral among those of Japan Orthodox Churches.
However, the oldest cathedral of Orthodox Church in existence as well as the oldest wooden church building in existence in Japan is the St. John the Apostle Cathedral, a former cathedral of the Ishinomaki Orthodox Church.
However, it is hard to say that the former cathedral of Ishinomaki Orthodox Church is 'a cathedral of genuine Russian-Byzantine architecture.'
Further, Ishinomaki Orthodox Church is using a newly constructed cathedral at present, and the former cathedral, that was moved to another location is being preserved as a cultural property, and is not being used as a church cathedral.
Also, St. Nicholas Church was completed in 1891, earlier than the completion of the Kyoto Orthodox Church in 1903, but it was reconstructed in 1929 making a substantial change to its dome-like roof and bell-tower. Therefore, there could be some debate over which has 'the oldest Byzantine Architecture,' either St. Nicholas Church or the Kyoto Orthodox Church.