Participants offer prayers at Karematsu Shrine during an ecumenical service in Nagasaki. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato
lifestyle

Japan's aging 'Hidden Christians' fear they may be their religion's last generation

8 Comments
By Linda Sieg

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There's nothing to worry about. I see so many Japanese enjoying Christmas and having weddings in churches.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Christians sure did suffer for their beliefs, right up to Meiji. I went to the site of the Martyrs of Tsuwano, in Shimane Prefecture, where 100 secret Christians from Nagasaki were transferred, tortured and many were killed for their faith. It's a sad, quiet little place and a pretty moving experience, even for a committed atheist like myself.

I hope these people can hang on, because it's a link to something important historically and culturally.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It was amazing any survived, much less perpetuated their beliefs over those centuries. The shogun beheaded 37,000 people in that rural area alone after the Shimabara rebellion. Entire villages were wiped out in this act of genocide. The castle where the locals made their last stand was also their tomb. The shogun's troops left the bodies of entire families laying. They burned the castle and then actually broke up the stone walls to let them fall on top of the bodies. Breaking down stone castle walls is no small job, and it must have taken some time and effort. That shows how dedicated the shogun was to destroying every last remanent of the Christians.

And they still survived.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Shingo Village in Aomori prefecture is alive and well. Not many are aware of its existence. Interesting place with long ties to this article but worth mentioning.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Christianity won't die there. It hasn't under the now-gone Communist regimes and it won't die in Japan. It's legal there anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Christians sure did suffer for their beliefs,

Taken out of the Japan context, Christian suffering has generally been at the hands of other Christians. Although an ugly thought for those who suffered in Kyushu, would it not have been worse if Christianity had been allowed to spread in Japan during the Edo era?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

would it not have been worse if Christianity had been allowed to spread in Japan during the Edo era?

I agree. If Christianity had spread further than it did in Japan it would have been divisive and would have led to some serious conflict.

Christian suffering has generally been at the hands of other Christians.

Depends what part of the world you grew up in. In northern and western Europe, for instance, certainly true, but in those parts of southern and eastern Europe which were under the Ottomans, Christians suffered more at the hands of Muslims, at least until the late 19th-early 20th centuries.

Looked at from within the Japan context, however, I feel nothing but sympathy for those adherents who were the victims of state violence and oppression.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Christianity won't die there. It hasn't under the now-gone Communist regimes and it won't die in Japan. It's legal there anyway.

read again! this article is about the "Hidden Christians" group, NOT regular christianity in Japan, oh and yeah, those evil-babies-eaters-commies are not going to eat them anymore...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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