Retro Japan: Tokyo’s Simple, Quiet Cathedral Allows Worshipers to Pray Without Distractions

TOKYO — The simplicity and tranquility of a cathedral in the Japanese capital’s Bunkyo district creates an environment where worshipers can pray undisturbed by distractions.

A sculpture titled ‘Pieta’, which depicts the body of Jesus Christ on his mother Mary’s lap after the crucifixion, is seen at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo’s Bunkyo district on May 7, 2020. The Italian word ‘pieta ” means “pity.” (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)=Click/tap on photo for more images.

St. Mary’s Cathedral falls under the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Tokyo. When this reporter visited, the interior was quiet and the fresh air made me forget the early summer heat outside. The original cathedral burned down in the Tokyo air raids in 1945. It was then decided that the cathedral would be rebuilt, and the construction of a new cathedral designed by world-renowned architect Kenzo Tange was completed in 1964. Tange, who died in 2005, is also known for designing the seat of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Peace of Hiroshima. Memorial Park, among other notable structures.

The highest point of the cathedral is about 39 meters high and the cross on the altar is 16 meters high. A soft golden light coming from behind the cross illuminates the marble floor. The altar is modeled after the dining table of Jesus Christ’s last supper. Unlike the atmosphere of Gothic-style churches, the simple composition of this cathedral is impressive. The church’s chief priest, Akiyoshi Amamoto, 52, said: “While stately churches are attractive, having nothing can also be good, as there are no distractions (when praying) .”

Pope Francis visited the church in November 2019 and a meeting with young people took place. In this cathedral, the prayers of the faithful continue today.

(Japanese original by Akihiro Ogomori, Photo and Video Center)

St. Mary’s Cathedral is seen in the Bunkyo district of Tokyo on May 7, 2020. The bell tower is seen on the left. (Mainichi/Akihiro Ogomori)=Click/tap on photo for more images.

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The Japanese version of this article was originally published on May 24, 2020.

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This series explores the architectural marvels and secrets of Japan’s past. Read more articles about retro Japan here.

Retro Japan in Photos: Tokyo’s St. Mary’s Cathedral Values ​​Simplicity

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