Fukushima

Tsurugajo Castle

Tsurugajo Castle

Tsurugajo Castle was named after "Tsuruchiyo", childhood name of the Christian daimyo (feudal lord) Ujisato Gamo (1556-1595). Ujisato, who had built his castle while developing its jokamachi (castle town), laid the foundations for the development of the Aizu-han Domain in the Edo Era, by measures including the invitation of merchants, opening of periodical markets, introduction of rakuichi-rakuza (free markets and open guilds) and incentives for crafts industry. Having a Christian name of Leo, he was a Christian so devout he tried to dispatch a mission to Europe. This is why Christianity has taken root in Aizu.

Location1-1 Outemachi, Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture Google Maps
Tour application / Contact informationAizuwakamatsu Tourism Bureau e-mail:info@tsurugajo.com
Opening hours8:30am - 5:00pm
Periods of closureThursdays
Admission feeAdmission for Tenshukaku (castle tower):Adults 410 yen, Children 150 yen (Discounts available for groups)
AccessTaking the around-the city bus "Haikara-san", get off at Tsurugajo Entrance from where it takes five minutes on foot.
Further informationClick here

Kubota Thirty-three Kannon Statues (Kubota Sanjusan Kannon Statue)

Thirty-three rock statues named "Mawari (circuit) Kannon" are arranged in a line at the Kubota district in a mountainous area of Yanaizumachi. Each Kannon statue is placed every 5 or 6 meters there. Its name derives from the way that many visitors pray for health or safety in front of each of the thirty-three statues while circling the statues. Their individual faces are very expressive, and one of those Kannon statues, "Mary Kannon" is a unique one that has a cross in her hand. It is said that she may fulfill women's wish for an easy birth. The Kubota Sanjusan Kannon Festival is held on April 29 every year.

LocationKubota Yanaizumachi, Kawanuma-gun Fukushima Prefecture Google Maps
Tour application / Contact informationYanaizu Tourism Association e-mail:utochan@aizuyanaizu.sakura.ne.jp
Special noticesThe tour is impossible in winter due to heavy snow (from mid November to end of March).
Further informationClick here (Japanese only)

Shizuoka

Kouunji Temple

Kouunji Temple

A Buddhist temple which provided a shelter for a while to Hara Mondo (John Hara Mondo), a Christan samurai, who had been persecuted by and escaped from Ieyasu Tokugawa under Anti-Christian Edicts (1612).
The chief priest of Kounji gave Hara shelter in a hill behind the temple. When this was discovered, however, it is said that the chief priest was forced to commit suicide.
Due to his helping a Christian, the posthumous Buddhist name of the chief priest was scraped off his gravestone. The oval gravestone itself, however, survives to this day.

Location281 Makigaya Aoi-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture Google Maps
Tour application / Contact information+81-54-278-0329
Admission feeFree
Special noticesThis is an active Buddhist temple at which funerals and other ceremonies are regularly held. Please be respectful when visiting.
AccessFrom JR Shizuoka Station, take the Makigaya line of the Shizutetsu Justline bus, and get off at the Makigaya bus stop. It's a 15minute walk from there.

Catholic Church of Shimizu

Catholic Church of Shimizu

Founded in July 1933 by Father De Laet, a Catholic missionary who was in Shimizu at the time.
The Gothic-style church and two-story Western-style rectory both have tatami flooring, which is quite rare for ecclesiastical buildings.
Mass is held on Sundays from 10:30am, and anyone can come and join in worship.

Location1-34 Okamachi Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture Google Maps
Tour application / Contact informationTEL:+81-54-352-7188/FAX:+81-54-352-7189
Admission feeFree
Mass applicationNot required
Mass informationEvery Sunday 10:30am
Special noticesPlease be mindful of the fact that this is an active Catholic church.
Many local Catholics attend Mass, so please remember to be respectful.
AccessFrom JR Shimizu Station, take one of the buses below or a taxi (about 2km)
Shizutetsu Justline bus, Funakoshi Tsutsumi Koen line or Konan Kosei Byoin line: get off at the Hachibun-mae stop, walk for 1min.
Yambara Baiinji line: get off of at the Okamachi bus stop and walk for 1min.
Miho Yamanote line: get off at the Mansei-cho bus stop and walk for 1km
Take the Shizuoka Tetsudo local train, get off at Irieoka Sta. and walk for 1km
Take the Shimizu Liner JR Bus from Tokyo Sta. or a bus stop along the Tomei Expressway (reservation required), get off at Shin-Shimizu and take a bus or taxi for about 1.5km
NotePamphlets for Mass are available in English and Tagalog (but assistance in either language is not provided)
Further informationClick here (Japanese only)

Kyoto

St. John the Baptist Church, Miyazu

St. John the Baptist Church, Miyazu

The church was built in 1896. It is said to be the second oldest Catholic church existing in Japan (the oldest among currently active churches). This is a precious building with the appearance of Christian churches passed down from the Meiji Era. It has a western-style exterior with stained glass windows, in contrast, it has tatami mats inside.
Christianity was introduced to Miyazu by the French missionary Jean-Louis Relave. Father Relave came to Japan in 1885, and three years after he learned Japanese, he arrived at Miyazu in 1888 after stopping over at Wakasa (Tsuruga, Obama, and Takahama) and Maizuru. Afterwards, he engaged in missionary work throughout the Tango area, Tajima and Ikuno Ginzan. Goroemon Tai, a prominent local figure and land owner, whose illness had been healed miraculously as a result of getting baptized in Tokyo by a priest belonging to the Paris Foreign Missions Society, offered to donate land for the premises of the church to Father Relave as a thanksgiving for that healing. Father Relave accepted his offer to start the construction of the church, and the current church was established.

Location500 Aza-Miyamoto, Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture Google Maps
Tour application / Contact informationTEL:+81-772-45-1625 / FAX:+81-772-22-8480 (Miyazu City Office,Tourism Exchange Division) (English is available only when English speaking staff is in the office)
ContactTEL:+81-772-22-3127/FAX:+81-772-22-3684 (English is available only when a foreign priest is present)
e-mailk-machi@city.miyazu.kyoto.jp
Open hours9:00am - 5:00pm (general tours are not allowed between 9:30am and 11:00am on Sunday due to Mass)
Periods of closureNone
Admission feeFree
Mass informationSunday 10:00am - 11:00am(except from July to September ) Tuesday 10:00am - 11:00am
Special noticesEnglish is available when a foreign priest is present.
Tours are not allowed during Mass.
Access8 minutes walk from Miyazu Station on the Kyoto Tango Tetsudo Line towards Amanohashidate.
Further informationClick here

Yamaguchi

Yamaguchi Xavier Memorial Church

Yamaguchi Xavier Memorial Church

This Memorial Church was built in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Xavier visiting Yamaguchi in 1952. Beautiful stained glasses portraying the life of Xavier were displayed inside the church and the lovely sounds of the bell chimed by the church every 15 minutes to tell the hour resonated all around the town. Unfortunately, the church was burnt down on September 5, 1991.
After that, fund-raising activities were conducted to rebuild the church, and six years and seven months after suffering the fire, on April 29, 1998, the long-awaited, white, brand-new memorial church was completed. The new memorial church with a futuristic design has two towers of 53 meters in height (including cross and bell) and the triangular pyramid roof covering the whole building. A lot of stained glass is installed inside the church and a pipe organ is also in place. The good old sounds of the bell new ring once every hour.

Location4-1 Kameyamacho, Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture Google Maps
Tour application / Contact informationTEL:+81-83-920-1549 / FAX:+81-83-924-7386 (English is available only for fax and e-mail.)
e-mailxavier@xavier.jp
Open hours9:00am -5:00pm
Periods of closureChurch on the 2nd floor: no holidays Christian Memorial Hall on the 1st floor: closing on Wednesdays
Admission feeChurch on the 2nd floor:Free (Offertory) Christian Memorial Hall on the 1st floor: Adults 300 yen, Children of elementary school or younger: 200 yen
Mass informationSunday: 9:30am (Xavier Memorial Church)
Monday - Thursday 6:00pm; Friday 9:30am; Saturday 6:00pm (Center church)
Special noticesEnglish may not be available depending on the priest.
Those who want to visit the Christian Memorial Hall (materials house) are recommended to come earlier considering the time required.
Access15 minutes walk from JR Yamaguchi Station
Further informationClick here

Tawarayama House for Virgin Mary of Peace

The House for Virgin Mary of Peace, where Virgin Mary's statue was installed, was constructed in 1983 as a place to pray to Virgin Mary, wishing for peace and comfort after a Christian had a mysterious experience of being comforted by the Virgin Mary at Tawarayama Onsen.
This Virgin Mary statue was consecrated by the Pope John Paul II who visited Hiroshima in February, 1981. After that, the venue was approved as a holy place by Father Yoshimatsu Noguchi, the parish chief at the time, on March 27, 1985. Since then, the "Virgin Mary of Peace Association" has been established to manage the House for Virgin Mary of Peace, praying to Virgin Mary for grace and the salvation of God, and to further spread the faith.

LocationTawarayama, Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture (near Tawarayama Hospital) Google Maps
Tour application / Contact information+81-82-221-6017 (Hiroshima Catholic Hall)
Mass informationNovember 3, every year
Further informationClick here (Japanese only)