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26 Saints Pilgrimage route on January 29 in 1597


The route of this day was from Akama in Munakata to Wajiro, the distance

was 21 km.


Started at Akama accommodation and using Karatsu walking road, they went to

Wajiro passing through Koga and Shingu.

Accommodation was Wajiro where faced Hakata bay, in order to cross from

Saitozaki to Shikanoshima the next day.

Shimabara Peninsula Martyrs Memorial Cathedral


This Cathedral is house of prayer for tens of thousands Christians who were martyred

between 1612 and 1658 throughout the Shimabara Peninsula.

It was built in 1997 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of 26

Japanese Saints and the 360th anniversary of the Shimabara Rebellion.

The Cathedral is a beautiful octagonal building with a large octagonal dome.

26 Saints Pilgrimage route on January 28 in 1597


The route of this day was from Kokura in Kitakyushu to Akama in Munakata via Koyanose ,

the distance was 34.5 km.

Started at Kokura accommodation around Kokura Castle, and walked to Tobata port

along the Kanmon Strait.


Transfered to Wakamatsu from Tobata by a boat.


Walked to Akama through Ashiya and Koyanose, and  then stayed at Akama.


26 Saints Pilgrimage route on January 27 in 1597


There were 24 martyrs when they started Kyoto, but two more martyrs were added in

Shimonoseki, then became 26 martyrs in total.


The route of this day was from Karato in Shimonoseki to Kokura in Kitakyushu.

Rode on the boat at Karato, and transfer to Dairi in Kitakyushu



   Kanmon Strait


They landed at Dairi and walked 6 km along the coastline of Kanmon Strait to Kokura,

where was the place to stay.


It is said that they stayed around Kokura Castle.


Japan’s first Seminary


In 1579, Priest Alessandro Valignano of Jesus from Portugal came to Japan to inspect

the situatin of missionary work in Japan.

Valignano believed that training Japanese priests and monks was the key to the success

of missionary work in Japan.

And then, he made the Japan’s first Seminary in Shimabara peninsula in 1580, where was

the Hinoe Castle town of Arima Harunobu. 



Among the first students, included member of Tensho youth mission to Europe who were

Ito Mansho Ito, Chijiwa Miguel, Hara Martino and Nakaura Julian.

Note : Seminary is an educational institution established in Japan by the Society of Jesus

between 1580 and 1614 to train Jesuit priests and monks.


Hidden Christian site, Kasuga Village


Kasuga Village and Mount Yasugatake is a Christian Pilgrimage site and is registered on

the World Heritage as Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region.


This idyllic, remote village was refuge to a small community of Hidden Christians who

practiced here for centuries, far from the prying eyes of the government. After the ban on

Christianity was lifted, the local villagers decided to continue practicing their own unique

brand of the religion rather than rejoin the Catholic Church. As a result, churches were not

erected in the village, and the religion remains outwardly invisible.

Hidden Christians


Oppression against Christians began with the Tokugawa shogunate’s ban

on Christianity. The missionaries were expelled to oversea countries, and

those who remained secretly in Japan were also captured and martyred.

Konishi Mansho who was the last Priest during the ban on Christianity,

was also martyred in 1644.

In the absence of priests, believers pretended to be Shinto or Buddhist

ostensibly in order to protect their faith.

The Christian organizations were created in each village to continue the

Christian faith and the faith was passed down from parents to children and

from children to grandchildren.



Hidden Christian

Even after lifted ban on Christianity, people who continue to practice their

faith in the same way as before are called “Hidden Christians”.

Hidden Christians in Nagasaki have been passed down since the ban on

Christianity in Hirado, Ikitsuki, the Goto Islands, Sotome, and around Nagasaki.


Kurose no Tsuji, martyrdom site of Gaspar Nishi Genka


The site where Christian Gaspar Nishi Genka was martyred in 1609, located on

Kurose Hill overlooking Nakae no shima between Hirado and Ikitsuki.

The tomb facing the sea is called Gaspar-sama and is a revered place for Ikitsuki’s

Hidden Christians.

The cross-shaped “Kurose no Tsuji Martyrdom Monument” was erected by Catholics

in 1991, and Mass is held every year around November 14th.



Gaspar Nishi Genka was the first martyr of Ikitsuki and the father of Thomas Rokuzaemon

Nishi who was one of the 16 Saint of Nagasaki, dedicated in Nakamachi Church in Nagasaki.


Saint Filippo de Jesus Church ( Japan 26 Saints Memorial Church )


This is a church with Gaudi-style twin tower designed by Kenjiro Imai,

built next to the Nishizaka Martyrdom site



When there was a plan to build a memorial hall for the 26 Japanese Saints

next to Nishizaka Martyrdon site, a large donation was made from Mexico,

and the Church was built in 1962.

This church is dedicated to Mexican Filippo de Jesus, who is one of the 26 Saints.

Filippo de Jesus was a Franciscan Catholic missionary who became one of the

26 Martyrs of Japan, the first Mexican Saint.


History of Japanese Christianity


Christian history in Japan was started when St. Francis Xavier came to Japan as a first Christian

missionary in 1549. Then Christianity was spread in Nagasaki region. However, unparalleled

hidden Cristian history was started from when Toyotomi Hideyoshi Shogunate proclaimed Christian

ban in 1587. During ban on Christianity, people secretly continued to faith while surviving in the

midst of the conventional society and Japanese religions.

Since ban on the Christianity was lifted in 1873, new Christian history in Japan has begun.



1549  St. Francis Xavier came Kagoshima Japan as a first Christian missionary and

           commenced the Christian history in Japan

1550  St. Francis Xavier came Hirado as a Christian missionary

1551  Catholic Hirado Church was constructed as first church in Japan

1557   Introduction of Catholicism to Ikitsuki, Kasuga in Hirado

1563  Omura Sumitada, feudral lord of Nagasaki who was first lord convert to Christianity

1569  Todos os Santos Church was constructed as first in Nagasaki by Gaspal Villera

1571  Nagasaki Port was opend to Portugal by feudral lord Omura Sumitada

1580   Arima Harunobu, lord of Arima convert to Christianity and the Seminario was

          established in Kuchinotsu as first in Japan

1582  Arima Harunobu teamed up with Kyushu Christian lords Otomo Sorin and ura Sumitada

          to dispatch the Tensho Mission to the Pope in Rome

1587  Shogunate, Toyotomi Hideyoshi proclaimed Christian ban

1590  The Tensho Mission retured to Nagasaki

1597  The Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan, were a group of Catholics who were

          executed by crucifixion on February 5 at Nagasaki. Their martyrdom is especially

          significant in the history of the Catholic Church in Japan.


1603 Tokugawa Shogunate was established and the natioal isolation policy was applied

1614 The Tokugawa Shogunate prohibited Christianity throughout Japan

1622 five Christians were martyred at Nakae no Shima in Hirado

1624 three Christians were martyred at Nakae no Shima in Hirado

1627 twenty seven Christians were martyred at Unzen Jigoku

1637 Shimabara Rebellion : a peasant uprising against bakufu’s persecution of Christians

         under the leadership of Amakusa Shiro

1637 Lorenzo Luiz from Philippines martyred at Nashizaka hill in Nagasaki

1641 Dejima, the small artificial island was opened as Dutch trading port in Nagasaki 

1644  Last Christian missionary in Japan is martyred


1853     Mathew C Perry came to Uraga; the Commodore of the US navy, who played a

             significant role in Japanese history, succeeded in opening Japan to foreign countries

1854    Treaty between the USA and Japan : ending the isolation policy and opening the country

1858    Treaty of Amity and Commerce between USA, Netherlands, Russia, England, France and

            Japan ; allow religious freedom in foreign residential areas

1862     The 26 Japanese Martyrs at Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki were canonized by Pope Pius IX.

1865     Oura Cathedral was built as the basilica of Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan 

1868     Meiji Restoration, the most important event in Japanese history, which heralded a new era

             of modernization in Japan. This revolution restored the imperial rule to Japan after more

             than 250years of Tokugawa Shogunate

1873     Ban on the Christianity was lifted

1882     Shitsu Church in Sotome construction started by Father de Rotz’s design

1909     Shitsu Church was completed 

1914     Urakami Cathedral construction was completed, it was the largest Catholic church in East Asia

              at that time

1912     Yamada Church in Hirado was constructed

1917     Tabira Church in Hirado was constructed

1920     Kurosaki Church was completed by Father de Rotz’s design

1931     St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church in Hirado was constructed at the present location

1945     Atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki on Aug. 9

    The most part of Nagasaki was destroyed, and a tremendous number of lives were lost.  

              and Urakami Cathedral was completely destroyed.

    About 73,000 died instantly, and up to 60,000 were injured.


1950     Pope Pius XII designated the Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaaki of Martyrdom of 26 Japanese

             Saints as an official Pilgrimage site for Catholics

1959     Urakami Cathedral replacement was built

1981     Pope John Paul II visited in Nagasaki

1982     Saint Teresa of Calcutta commonly known as Mother Teresa visited in Nagasaki

1987    Saint Lorenzo Ruiz was canonized by the same pope in the Vatican city on 18 October,

            making him the first Filipino Saint

2000    Ebdo Shusaku ( novelist of Silence ) Literary Museum is opened in Sotome

2018    Hidden Christian site is registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage


2019     Pope Francis visited Nagasaki on Nov.24 and and calls for a ‘world without Nuclear

             Weapons’ at the Ground Zero.




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