THE MARTYRS OF NAGASAKI (SPRING JOURNEY I)
(The following post - the first in a series of five - comes from my travel journal detailing a journey I took through southwestern Japan in the spring of 2018. My purpose was to explore the lands most associated with the Hidden Christians and the cataclysmic Shimabara Rebellion. While spring is usually my favorite season to go on a lengthy hiking adventure, due to the coronavirus I refrained from doing so in 2020. Nevertheless, I dug these journal entries up to present here for public viewing.)
Entry 1: Introduction
This year during Easter Week I traveled to southwestern Japan and went hiking through the heartland of the old Hidden Christians. Walking through the mountains, trekking the coastlines, and sleeping under the stars, I went traveling in search of stories—harrowing old tales of struggles, battles, and persecutions, of Japanese communities who gathered in secret, under penalty of torture and death, to offer prayers to a silent, hidden god. My journey lasted a week and took me through the Amakusa Islands, up the coast of the Shimabara Peninsula, and finally to Nagasaki and the volcanic springs (hells) of Mt. Unzen.
I encountered many fascinating stories and sights in those remote, quiet corners of the country, and in this journal I'd like to record just a little of what I found, to hopefully shed light on a part of Japan that few Westerners today ever get the chance to see.