The Otome Toge Maria Chapel (乙女峠マリア聖堂, Otome Tōge Maria Seidō) was built in 1951 in memory of Christians who were relocated to and persecuted in Tsuwano at the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). The small rustic chapel stands in the woods west of Tsuwano Station.
Christianity was prohibited in Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1867) but some Japanese Christians continued to practice their religion secretly. Some of them made their belief public after the Meiji Restoration (1867), partly unknowing that the ban was still in place. These Christians, mostly from Nagasaki, were sent in groups to various parts of Japan to be persuaded to abandon their religion. One of these places was Tsuwano, where the Otome Toge Maria Chapel currently stands.
Torture ensued when persuasion tactics failed, and 36 of the Christians did not survive the ordeal. Beside the chapel is a monument with a statue of Virgin Mary and a man in a cage, depicting the story of one of the Chirstians who was locked up and left in the cold, but stood steadfast because he reportedly saw the apparition of Virgin Mary every night.
Maria Seido is a 20 minute walk and gentle hike west of Tsuwano Station.