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, 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.
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.
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.
This section explores in photographs neighborhoods of interest.
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