Catholicism and Buddhism
Kuroshima has a Catholic church, a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine.
This religious diversity formed the Kuroshima’s own culture.
About 80% of the islanders are Catholics
From the end of the 18th century, many hidden Christians of Sotome of Nagasaki migrated to Kuroshima and started living quietly.
On May 19, 1865, a group of Kuroshima’s hidden Christians visited Fr. Petitjean at Oura Cathedral risking their lives and confessed their faith.
The cathedral dedicated to the 26 martyrs was built in the previous year in Nagasaki. After that, Kuroshima’s hidden Christians were baptized as Catholics.
It has been more than 130 years since Fr. Pelloux built the first church on Kuroshima in 1878.
Currently, about 80% of islanders are Catholics and they are the descendants who know the harsh history of hidden Christians.
Masses are held every morning and on weekends at Kuroshima church.
‘Though we were said we couldn’t work on Sundays, we had to work even on Sundays during the busy farming season with Father’s permission’.
The consciousness that not attending masses is unimaginable has still taken root deeply.
Catholic Public Cemetery
There used to be 6 cemeteries including Buddhist ones on Kuroshima. After 1887, one of them moved to the Odahara area and became a Catholic public cemetery.
Fr. Marman also sleeps here together with some Japanese fathers.
Tomb stones with a cross made of local granite stand in a line.
The Place of Faith Restoration
1865 year, he has confessed Puchijan priest in Urakami believers visited faith of (now Nagasaki Urakami) living in Nagasaki.
This is called the ‘Discovery of Christians’.
But, the hidden Christians were said their baptisms were invalid.
For this reason, the hidden Christians on Kuroshima started their great efforts to become Catholics.
Mr. Deguchi and his son visited Fr. Petitjean and learned the Catholic Catechism under him. They were baptized by Fr. Petitjean.
After returning to the island, they baptized about 600 hidden Christians to have them become Catholics again.
1872 year, was performed for the first time Mass in Kuroshima in the land of this faith revival. (Formerly exit House)
Have you heard the famous story that the Virgin Mary appeared to Marie Bernadette Soubirous on a total of 18 occasions at Lourdes in 1858?
After Pope Leo XIII had a replica of Lourdes Grotto made in Vatican in 1891, the trend became popular all over the world.
Kuroshima, rich in natural spring water and called a Hidden-Christian island, also has many replicas for worship.
For the believers who survived the era of over 100 years suppression, the replicas are purely religious objects rather than the holy spring which causes miracles.
※ The picture shows the replica of Lourdes Grotto in Café Misaki.
In 1878, Fr. Pelloux who built the first church on Kuroshima founded a convent with the assistance of the Takekawa family living in the Higashi Dohira area.
The convent which consisted of 10 sisters was named ‘Kuroshima Aikukai’ and Ms. Takekawa Isa, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Takekawa, became the first abbess.
Currently a few sisters live in the convent. The facility is not open to the public.
"Soto Sect Kozenji Temple"
You may associate Kuroshima with Catholic, but there is a Buddhist temple in the Honmura district.
It is a Soto Sect temple called Kozenji.
Founded in 1803 around out desire to to want the Hirado clan built as a retreat of Chosenji place called Shakado.
It was allowed to be built by the Hirado Domain in 1803 as retirement house of Chosenji temple.
As for the Hirado Domain, it was a good idea to control the Catholics on the island as Buddhists.
Because the Tokugawa shogunate had a policy to force people to register with temples.
Many hidden Christians pretended to be Buddhists superficially, but they had images of the Virgin Mary at home.
The Honmura area, where Kozenji temple, Kuroshima shrine and an administrative office were located, was the central part of the island during the Edo period.
The Grave in front of Kozenji Temple
The old grave in front of Kozenji temple is Nishi family’s one.
The Izumi family, now living in the former Nishi house, is to take care of the grave to their remotest descendants.
The Izumi family played a role of paying the island’s tribute rice to the Hirado Domain as land tax.
The total island tribute rice was 47 koku.
One koku is equivalent to 180 liters.
About Buddhism Soto Sect
Soto school is the largest of the 5 traditional sects of Zen in Japanese Buddhism (the others being Rinzai, Obaku, Nihondaruma, and Fuke). The Japanese brand of the sect was imported from China by Dogen during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).
It emphasizes meditation with no objects, anchors, or content.
Kuroshima Shrine stands near the port of Kuroshima. Climbing up the stone steps, you can see the main shrine building, a big holy rock, and many small shrines.
Since the trees in its precincts were prohibited to be cut down, the forest has been preserved as it is, the only natural and primeval forest on Kuroshima.
There is another shrine dedicated to the deity of ocean (Kompira Shrine) in its precincts, too.
Kuroshima Shrine is a branch shrine of Shishiki Shrine in Hirado. Though Kuroshima Shrine was once abolished when the Ordinance to separate Shintoism and Buddhism was issued in 1871 by the Meiji Government, it was restored as Village Shrine in 1879.
It enshrines Minegoro Hiraku.