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Sotome (OC) is a rural, coastal area on the peninsula north of central Nagasaki. During the ban on Christianity in the Edo Period, Sotome was home to communities of "Hidden Christians", many of whom emigrated there from other parts of Nagasaki, because the remote region allowed them to practice their religion in secret. In the late 1800s, Japan lifted the ban on Christianity, and part of the local population rejoined the Catholic Church.

French missionary Father Marc Marie de Rotz played a large role in reestablishing the religion in the area. He established Shitsu Church on a hill overlooking the sea. The church was constructed in 1882 with local materials. Shitsu Church continues to serve the local Christian community and welcomes visitors to come and view its serene interior.

The Sotome region was poor and impoverished upon Father de Rotz's arrival, and some of his biggest contributions to the area were the social programs which he established to help the local women become independent and provide for themselves. To this end he built the Shitsu Aid Centre, a vocational center where young women were taught how to manufacture macaroni, somen and textiles. They also learned reading, writing and mathematics, as well as skills in agriculture, architecture, fishing, flour milling and bread making.

The brick and white plaster structures were originally built in 1883 and have been restored to their original condition. They now serve as a museum with information about the women who studied there and the skills that they were taught. The centre also continues to act as a community center for the local area, holding various workshops and offering hand's on activities.

Next to the aid centre stands the de Rotz Memorial Museum, which is housed in a building that was originally used to manufacture fishing nets. The museum displays personal belongings of the father, medical instruments and documents, religious items and farming tools used by the aid centre. The ticket for the memorial museum also grants you entry to the nearby Sotome Museum of History and Folklore, a typical museum about local history and culture.

Father de Rotz also built Ono Church, a satellite of Shitsu Church, in the neighboring district in order to better serve the local community there. Ono Church was built in a distinctive, simple architectural style of piled stones, which was common in the area during the Edo Period. The understated, rural sanctuary is located on the hill set back off the main road. Visitors can admire the structure from the outside, however it is not open to the public without prior reservations.

Getting there and around

Sotome lies about one hour north of central Nagasaki. There are hourly bus connections from Nagasaki Station up the Sotome coast. Some are direct, while others require a transfer at the Sakura no Sato (̗) bus terminal along the way. The one way ride to Shitsu takes around 80 minutes and costs 950 yen. Get off at the Shitsu (o) or Shitsu Bunkamura (oÕ) bus stop from where the attractions can be reached in a short walk. The Ono Church is an additional five minute bus ride up the coast. Get off at the Ono () bus stop from where it is a 20 minute walk uphill to the church.

A rental car can make a visit to Sotome easier. Rental car outlets can be found in Nagasaki.

How to get to and around Nagasaki

Hours and Fees

Shitsu Church

Hours

Closed

Admission

Shitsu Aid Center

Hours

Closed

Admission

De Rotz Memorial Museum and Sotome Museum of History and Folklore

Hours

Closed

Admission

Ono Church

Hours

Closed

Admission

Hotels around Nagasaki

Top rated in Nagasaki
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      Renovated in April 2018, i + Land Nagasaki is 18.5 km or a 40-minute drive from Nagasaki Station. A hot spring bath, sauna, garden and kids area are available for guests. The property provides a 24-hour front desk. An Asian breakfast is served daily at the property. Guests can make use of the sauna. Cycling is among the activities that guests can enjoy near the resort. Nagasaki Museum of History is 11 km from i + Land Nagasaki, while Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 11 km from the property. Nagasaki Airport is 27 km away.
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    • Hilton Nagasaki
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      Located 400 metres from Nagasaki Station, Hilton Nagasaki offers 5-star accommodation in Nagasaki and features a fitness centre, a restaurant and a bar. This 5-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service. The property is non-smoking and is set 1.4 km from Nagasaki Museum of History. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a TV and a private bathroom with a shower. All units include a wardrobe. Guests at Hilton Nagasaki can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The accommodation offers 5-star accommodation with a spa centre. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 2.8 km from Hilton Nagasaki, while Peace Park is 3.4 km away. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 39 km from the hotel.
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    • ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel
      Budget-friendly
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    • Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae
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    • GRAND BASE Nagasaki Chukagai
      Mid-range
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    • GRAND BASE Nagasaki
      Mid-range
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    • hotel H2 TRIP&BUSINESS NAGASAKI
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