Hokkaido / Motomachi Roman Catholic Church

Motomachi Roman Catholic Church

The first wooden church was founded in 1877, and the current building was rebuilt in 1924. A magnificent altar in the cathedral was donated by Pope Benedict XV. The church takes a share in creating the typical scenery of Motomachi together with other neighboring churches.
The Motomachi Roman Catholic Church stands just before the approach to the Chacha Slope (Chacha means "old man" in the Ainu language) ahead of the Daisanzaka Slope. It is characterized by a big belfry with a high-rise pointed roof, adopting the Gothic architecture originating in France in the twelfth century. The church is one of the oldest churches in Japan, along with Catholic churches established in Yokohama and Nagasaki as a symbol of the resumption of Christianity before the ban on Christianity issued by the Tokugawa Shogunate was abolished.

The French missionary Mermet-Cachon came to Hakodate in 1859, and staying at Shoumyouji temple, he worked on missionary activities while teaching foreign languages. He himself learned Japanese and Ainu languages. Father Mounicou and Father Ambruster who came to Hakodate in 1867 built a temporary church, and then Father Marin built the first church in 1877.This wooden church was burnt down by a great fire in 1907. The church which had been rebuilt in brick also suffered a great fire in 1921, but was repaired by plastering mortar over the brick walls which escaped the fire, and a big belfry of 33 meters high was added onto the church. As such, the present building was completed in 1924.

Main and secondary altars and the fourteen wooden panels of the Stations of the Cross on the both sides of the walls in the church were presented by the Pope Benedict XV as a condolence gift for the fire. At the back of the church, the "Cave of Lourdes" with a 1.5 meters-high statue to enshrine the Virgin Mary is located to allow followers to pray in May and October every year.

Location15-30 Motomachi Hakodate City Hokkaido Prefecture Google Maps
Open hours10:00am-4:00pm (Closed in the whole morning on Sundays, and during worship)
Periods of closureDecember 30 - January 5 (during year-end and New Year holidays) * Closed while services are taking place.
Access10 minutes walk from Jujigai stop of tram
Further informationClick here
Motomachi Roman Catholic Church at night

Motomachi Roman Catholic Church at night

The church is illuminated at night, which adds a nice touch to the town.