Govt launches website to raise awareness on ‘Kakure Krishitan’

It was at the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki that the discovery of the first hidden Christians was made by a priest when they came to worship there shortly after its completion in 1865.

Japan
Jun 12 2014, 1:24 PM
Govt launches website to raise awareness on ‘Kakure Krishitan’

To raise awareness of Christianity in 16th to 19th century Japan, the local government in Nagasaki has launched a website. The site www.oratio.jp is now available only in Japanese; English and Korean versions will soon be published.

After the end of the Japanese government's Seclusion Policy in 1853, more than 15,000 "Kakure Krishitan" (hidden Christians) were discovered on Kyushu, the southern main Japanese island on which Nagasaki is located. These were Japanese who secretly adhered to Christian faith traditions throughout the more than 200 years of persecution.

The Japanese government’s decision to advertise the presence of Christians in Nagasaki “is about the economy and tourism. It is to promote awareness of the historical sites connected with the Church. It has nothing to do with faith, but it is an excellent opportunity for the evangelization of the country. We really have to take advantage of this,” said Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki.

The government aim is to gain UNESCO World Heritage recognition for the churches and castles in the area by 2016. Built between the 16th and the 19th century, the 13 sites proposed to the UN also include Oura Cathedral, said to be the oldest church in Japan.

It was at the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki that the discovery of the first hidden Christians was made by a priest when they came to worship there shortly after its completion in 1865.

According to a government official, “we placed emphasis on introducing the story of Christianity through the churches as places of prayer and in the manner in which people express their religious beliefs”. In this site you will find 150 articles written by experts and residents of the area, which include the history of the churches and tourist attractions associated with them.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to the Vatican and Pope Francis’ concern for Japan has helped in the renewed interest in Japanese Church history.

“The interest that the pontiff has for our country is moving and important. We need to take advantage of this historic moment of the Church, in which even Japanese society is interested in Catholics, to clarify our mission and explain the Church’s presence in Japan,” Archbishop Takami said.

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