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Russia long represented in Tokyo by cathedral, eateries

by

Staff Photographer

Meta

With Russian President Vladimir Putin set to visit Japan next week, expectations are growing as to whether progress will be made on a territorial row that has been a thorn in bilateral ties.

But strolling through the streets of Tokyo, a few Russia-linked buildings and restaurants, both old and new, suggest there is history between the two countries that goes beyond the disputed islands off Hokkaido.

One is a Byzantine-style Orthodox cathedral founded in 1891 by Russian priest Nicholas Kasatkin — an eye-catching structure that sits among modern Tokyo buildings.

The Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, in the capital
The Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, in the capital’s Chiyoda Ward, boasts Byzantine-style decor. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
Visitors walk through the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo on Nov. 6.
Visitors walk through the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo on Nov. 6. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
A wall painting at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, commonly known as Nicolai-do, features Jesus Christ holding a book in Japanese.
A wall painting at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, commonly known as Nicolai-do, features Jesus Christ holding a book in Japanese. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
The Byzantine-style Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo is seen on Nov. 6.
The Byzantine-style Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo is seen on Nov. 6. | YOSHIAKI MIURA

The Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo, commonly known as Nicolai-do, however, was burned down during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. It was restored in 1929 thanks to donations, and subsequently designated one of Japan’s important cultural properties in 1962.

A train ride away in Shinjuku Ward is the Russian restaurant Chaika, or seagull, which opened in the Cold War era of 1972.

Matryoshka dolls dot the windowsill at Chaika, a Russian restaurant in Tokyo
Matryoshka dolls dot the windowsill at Chaika, a Russian restaurant in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Nov. 23. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
Chicken pot pie with white sauce is one of the menu items at Chaika, a Russian restaurant in the Takadanobaba district in Tokyo
Chicken pot pie with white sauce is one of the menu items at Chaika, a Russian restaurant in the Takadanobaba district in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. | YOSHIAKI MIURA
Russian tea is served at Chaika, a Russian restaurant in Shinjuku Ward, on Nov. 23.
Russian tea is served at Chaika, a Russian restaurant in Shinjuku Ward, on Nov. 23. | YOSHIAKI MIURA

And for those who like to follow the latest trends, ItaCafe, a newly opened cafe in the Waseda district, bills itself as the first Russian maid cafe in Tokyo.

Waitresses dressed as Russian maids serve food at ItaCafe in Tokyo
Waitresses dressed as Russian maids serve food at ItaCafe in Tokyo’s Waseda district on Nov. 23. | YOSHIAKI MIURA

But perhaps the most interesting of all is Russia Tea in Taito Ward, a small shop that offers more than 1,000 Russian products, ranging from matryoshka dolls featuring past Russian leaders, to cigarettes, military uniforms and night-vision devices.

Kazuharu Iwahashi, owner of the Russian Tea specialty shop in Taito Ward, Tokyo, holds matryoshka dolls featuring past Russian leaders on Nov. 23.
Kazuharu Iwahashi, owner of the Russian Tea specialty shop in Taito Ward, Tokyo, holds matryoshka dolls featuring past Russian leaders on Nov. 23. | YOSHIAKI MIURA

This section explores in photographs neighborhoods of interest.