Christianity entered Japan in the mid 1500s and found considerable numbers of followers around today's Nagasaki Prefecture, the main entry port of Westerners into Japan. When the religion was banned in the Edo Period and the Christians were forced to give up their religion, a few believers, known as the "Hidden Christians", continued to practice their religion in secret for over two centuries. Some did so in the remote villages of Hirado Island.

In the late 1800s, the ban on Christianity was lifted, and many of the Hidden Christians rejoined the Catholic Church and built new churches with the assistance of foreign priests. A few also refrained from rejoining because their religious practices evolved quite a bit over the centuries to a degree that they were not compatible with Catholicism anymore.

Some of the sites of interest related to Christianity in Hirado are listed below:

Central Hirado

  • St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church
    Hours: 6:00 to 16:30 (Sundays from 10:00)
    Closed: No closing days
    Admission: Free
  • Temple and Church Viewpoint

On the Kyushu mainland

  • Tabira Church
    Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
    Closed: Closed during special events
    Admission: Free

Elsewhere in Hirado

  • Shima no Yakata Museum
    Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (admission until 16:30)
    Closed: January 1 to 2
    Admission: 520 yen
  • Nakae no Shima
  • Kasuga Village
  • Hirado Kirishitan Museum
    Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (admission until 16:30)
    Closed: Wednesdays and December 29 to January 2
    Admission: 200 yen
  • Himosashi Church
    Hours: 8:00 to 14:00
    Closed: No closing days
    Admission: Free

Getting there and around

How to get to St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church

The St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church sits on the hill overlooking Hirado Port. It is about a 15-20 minute walk uphill from the Hirado Bus Terminal.

How to get to Tabira Church

The church can be reached in about a 30 minute walk from Nishi-Tabira Station on the Matsuura Railway (80 minutes, 1230 yen one way from Sasebo, hourly departures). Alternatively, a taxi ride from central Hirado to the church takes about 15 minute and costs around 2000 yen one way.

How to get to the Shimo no Yakata Museum

Hourly buses operate between the Hirado Bus Terminal and Ikitsukiohashi-koen mae (勴O) bus stop from where the museum is a 5 minute walk. The one way bus ride takes 30 minutes and costs 680 yen.

How to get to Himosashi Church

Himosashi Church can be reached from Hirado Bus Terminal by bus (40 minutes, 790 yen one way, one bus every 1-2 hours). Get off at Himosashi (R).

How to get to Kasuga Village and Hirado Kirishitan Museum

Due to virtually inexistent public transportation, a rental car is recommended to access the Kasuga Village and Hirado Kirishitan Museum. Rental car outlets can be found around Sasebo Station.

How to get to and around Hirado