Hirado (ĽŻî╦) is an island in northwestern Nagasaki Prefecture. Off-the-beaten path today, the island enjoyed brisk international trade in past centuries as one of Japan's closest points to the Asian mainland. In particular, it served as the trading post of the Dutch East India Company during the early Edo Period until the company's operations were moved to Dejima in the port of Nagasaki.
Early Western traders were accompanied by Christian missionaries, and the religion gained a bit of a foothold in Hirado and across Nagasaki Prefecture. However, as the religion's influence grew, the Tokugawa Shogunate responded by expelling missionaries and banning Christianity for more than two centuries. Some Christians in Hirado continued to practice their religion secretly until the ban on Christianity was lifted in the Meiji Period.