Urakami Cathedral is a Catholic church representing Nagasaki, and Nagasaki is a region with a large number of Catholics in Japan because of its historical background.
This cathedral continues to exist as the source of the hearts of the Catholics in Nagasaki, and has been dominated by the changes of many times until now.
The origin (1879-1925)
The Meiji government also continued suppression of Christianity after they regained power from the Tokugawa shogunate.
After that, the Meiji government had no choice but to abolish the Christian prohibition due to the pressure of foreign countries, the Catholics in Urakami were finally able to establish a base for the small cathedral
Father Fresino, who came from Oura Catholic Church, purchased the current land on the Urakami Hill to build a temporary synagogue and then a plan to build a cathedral.
He planned to build a cathedral that was as stunning as the Oura Catholic Church built in 1865, Urakami Cathedral was started to build in the Neo-Romanesque style since 1895 and was completed to the construction level without the bell tower by 1914.
The Neo-Romanesque style (1925-1945)
Urakami Cathedral was finally completed to build in 1925, thirty years after its construction and it had almost the same appearance as the “present” Urakami Cathedral.
Since it was famous as a sightseeing destination for Nagasaki travel before the war, we can see the situation at that time in old postcards.
It was not generalized to take a photo in the color technology for photography at that time, so we can’t easily find the color image, but we also can see the vivid color tone of bricks on postcards.
The old Urakami Cathedral is made of red brick with a deeper color than today.
The destruction by the atomic bomb and afterwards (1945-1958)
Urakami Cathedral, which was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945, remained as a destroyed structure after processing the rubble.
This is Urakami Cathedral seen from the front after the bombing, and we can see how awesome the bombing is.
These are the photos seen from the front of the destroyed cathedral, and it seems very terrible in the precious color one.
This is a mass scene at the ruined Urakami Cathedral. It was a very sacred place for Catholics.
This is a peace memorial statue of Peace Park, which can be seen from the front of the ruined cathedral, since the Peace Park in Nagasaki was built in 1956, it can be seen that the following photo were taken after 1956.
Children playing by the abandoned walls of the cathedral, what hopes did they have for Nagasaki at that time?
This is probably around 1958, near the end of the destruction of the cathedral. You can fully find the good weather out in black-and-white photograph, therefore, the destroyed Urakami Cathedral looks very terrible.
We can clearly see the brick color at that time in the color photograph. This is also a very valuable photo. There were terraced fields behind the cathedral at that time, but nowadays almost all have become residential areas.
There were many opinions that it should be officially preserved as an atomic bomb surviving structure at that time, partly due to the influence of the US nuclear test.
However, it was never realized due to the strong willingness of the Catholics in Nagasaki to rebuild and the thought of the mayor of Nagasaki at that time.
Instead, Nagasaki City moved part of the remains of Urakami Cathedral to the Atomic Bomb Center Park to make it a monument. A student is drawing before Urakami Cathedral is demolished in this photo.
After the reconstruction (1959-1980)
After some twists and turns, Urakami Cathedral was rebuilt in gray concrete at its original location in 1959. In fact, some people criticized the Catholic side of Nagasaki because the original remains of the Urakami Cathedral could not be preserved in Nagasaki.
However, the government has suppressed Christianity as a national policy until the beginning of the Meiji era for a long time in Japan. Many of them endured persecution in Nagasaki, where there were many Christians originally.
The place where the Urakami Cathedral is located was a historical place for believers in the Urakami district, and was a source of heart. There are many pious Catholics in Nagasaki for this background. It was extremely unacceptable for the Christians who were originally persecuted that there are no church in this sacred place in Urakami.
It faithfully reflects the original design and has the same decorative style based on white, except it is not made of brick.
However, it seems that the width is wider than the original one before the war. Since it has been renovated for many years, I feel sad that the number of people who remember this gray type will decrease year by year.
I was familiar with this gray type since my childhood, but there are surprisingly few photos of this gray one.
The photographic technology was not digitized yet at that time, so it may be hard to find photos of this type.
The four photos above were taken in 1968, but the surrounding environment at that time was also recorded very clearly. These images are very valuable.
This is a scene where kindergarten children go out under the cathedral, their kindergarten still exists near Urakami Catholic Church.
After the renovation (1980-present)
Urakami Cathedral was remodeled in the traditional Neo-Romanesque style in 1980, before the Vatican Pope John Paul II (then) of the Vatican came to Japan in 1981.
The former gray-style cathedral was also faithful to the original design in detail, but the present cathedral lost the identity of detail parts in the white color after the renovation even if it is the same brick construction as the original one.
It is s a mystery why it was not modified with the same design, but I still feel that the original one has a sharp appearance.