When Hakodate was opened to the rest of the world a number of foreigners moved in to Motomachi and set up several churches in the neighborhood. Three notable churches are right by each other and can be easily visited while you’re walking around Motomachi. The churches, of course, are closed to tourists during worship services, so if you’re in Hakodate on a Sunday do make sure to look up the worship times before trying to visit.
Motomachi’s Catholic church was first built in 1877 and then rebuilt in 1923. The main altar inside the church was donated by Pope Benedict XV and there’s a nice blue ceiling with stars to represent the night sky. Obviously it’s nowhere near as grand as the great cathedrals of Europe, but for Japan this is a pretty sizable and ornate Catholic church.
Right across the street from the Catholic church is Motomachi’s Orthodox church. This Byzantine-style church was founded in 1858 by the Russian Consulate, making it the oldest Orthodox church in Japan. The current version of the building is from 1916 and locals nicknamed it “Gangan-dera” (Ding-dong temple) because of its distinctive bells that would play each Sunday. Photography is not allowed inside, which is unfortunate considering that the church has a beautiful interior, but if you’ve visited any Orthodox churches in Europe you’ll have a good idea of what the inside looks like. (A quick Google Images search can also show you)
The third church I visited was St John’s Church. This is an Anglican church that was founded in 1874 and the existing building was completed in 1979. It’s the most modern looking of the three churches and has a cross-shaped roof (when viewed from above). The interior of St John’s isn’t very big but it’s still worth a brief visit.