Ginko to the Hidden Christian Villages

. Astonishing! The medieval Christians’ pictures, so bright even today.
……………… (Akito)
Christianity first arrived in Japan in the 16th Century and was accepted warmly, but soon afterwards subsequent shogunates banned the religion, mainly for political reasons. Until 1873 Christians were unsparingly oppressed. Many of the persecuted Christians (“Kirishitan”) in the present Mishima district, which today includes Takatsuki and Ibaraki cities in Osaka prefecture, hid in its northern woodlands to live with their secret faith.


April 14, 2013. On this fine Sunday, ten Hailstones riding in three cars (and one other on a scooter)
set off to explore the heritage of the “hidden Christian villages” of Sendaiji and Shimo-otowa. We started at the Ibaraki Municipal Christian Relics Depository, essentially a small local museum telling the hidden Christians’ story, and gazed at the motorway construction site up against Mt. Cruz.
. The spring wind fills
 The wood behind
. The Christian graveyard –
. A galleon’s* sails.
……………… (Tito)
. under which roof
. was the Madonna scroll* found?
. a bush warbler
. singing through the village
……………… (Keiko)
. roadside hawkbits,*
. what do you know P1190543-
. about the tombstone crosses
. peeking from the soil?
……………… (Akira)
Lunch was taken in the Sports Park restaurant at the foot of Mt. Ryuo:
. Oh why?
. in the middle of April
car wipers raised*
……………… (Kumiko)
As the village houses are scattered here and there, we decided to move on a mile or two … to Kounji Temple and the hamlet around it in Shimo-otowa. Some preferred to go by car; others, to walk the lanes between flowery fields, enjoying views of the surrounding hills.
. By the waiting room
. cabbage goes for fifty yen –
. another empty bus
……………… (Branko)
. of two stone crosses, barely a trace:
. this year too, mountain cherry blossoms*
……………… (Richard)
. talking openly after 400 years
P1190565a- . a man of the hidden hamlet –
. time tells
……………… (Eiko)
. waiting for slow walkers:
. from the village out of sight
. a blown petal
……………… (Hisashi)

In mid-afternoon, we returned to a pleasant room we had rented at the Park. There we shared haiku:
. How appropriate! On tatami floor, a cross made by four tables.
……………… (Branko) PICT0001a-

*galleon: large European square-rigged sailing ship
*Madonna scroll: マリア十五玄義図, an early C17th painting of a Madonna & Child surrounded by 15 miracle scenes

*hawkbits: カンサイタンポポ, delicate, yellow dandelions
*raised: lifted up away from the windscreen
*mountain cherry blossoms: 山桜, wild cherry spp., with white flowers and orangey leaflets


8 Responses to “Ginko to the Hidden Christian Villages”

  1. I enjoyed reading this very much. I would have loved to go on this ginko, but alas, my health does not permit it. I do not know anything about the Christian villages in Kansai area. If the village names and temple names were written not only in roma-ji but also in Kanji, it would be easier to identify them and look them up in maps. Just from the pictures, the villages look like ordinary villages, but I suppose there are many hidden relics. Among the poems, I especially enjoyed Branko’s. Somehow they sound like Japanese haiku, while I found some poems by Japanese poets were more like English short poems rather than haiku. I do not know why, but Branko’s poems have very clear images. Ezra Pound would have welcomed them. Best wishes. (Yuasa Nobuyuki)

    • 茨木市 千提寺、下音羽 地区

      • Hisashi Miyazaki Says:


      • Thank you very much, Tito and Hisashi, for giving me the detailed information about Christian sites in Ibaragi. I was able to visit them on the Internet, thanks for the kanji of the place names you gave me. My image of Ibaragi changed completely -from a drab bed town to a historically important town. (Sosui)

    • Sosui,
      Thanks a lot for comments. They cheered me up especially as I have been under the weather recently. There are some really good haiku here. I think Ezra would have enjoyed strolling with us! I vaguely recall a passage from his ‘ABC of Reading’ when he talks about furniture as an example of how to approach writing. I just looked it up: ‘…if you think of your subject as a stool or a table, you must keep on until it has three legs and will stand up, or four legs and it won’t tip over too easily’. Simple and telling. Best wishes

  2. Richard Donovan Says:

    Thank you for this report. I very much enjoyed participating in the ginko.

  3. I liked the theme of this unique ginko. Hidden Christian villages in Japan? A chance to get a feel of a hidden past in the present. Well done. I thought Keiko, Richard, and Eiko’s poems gave a sense of that past/present connection, and therefore added to the historical depth of this interesting report.

    • So good to hear from you, G. Hope all’s well and that you might have time to post a haiku or two to our top page soon. I am keen to see/hear something from your new hometown.

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