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Amakusa's Christian Culture


Visit Sakitsu Church to learn about the harsh history of Japan's “hidden Christians”, who fled to Kyushu's remote islands to practice their faith in secret during Japan's Edo-era ban on Christianity. Sakitsu Village, where this church is located, is a fishing village in Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture where believers would worship the inside of abalone shells, seeing in the patterns images of the Virgin Mary, as a way to preserve their faith.

Enforcers of the ban included Lord Kato Kiyomasa, who in addition to being responsible for building many castles, was a staunch anti-Christian militarist. However, people of different faiths had to co-exist harmoniously in the small community in Amakusa, and local residents refused to turn in their Christian neighbors despite being offered attractive rewards. After the ban was lifted, hidden Christians established the Catholic church beside a Shinto shrine, officially marking the end of their silent worship. Sakitsu Village is now registered as a World Heritage Site.

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