"Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki"

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Nagasaki Prefectural Government
World Heritage Registration Promotion Division


“Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki” is an historical site that illustrates the propagation and penetration of Christianity into Japan, which has emerged from the interchange of values between Japan and the West over a period of 450 years. This history is far from linear, but developed in the Nagasaki region through a unique process which can be divided into three stages: “introduction and prosperity”, “suppression and concealment”, and “revival”.

Introduction and Prosperity

Japan had its first direct encounter with Western culture in the Age of Exploration. After Francis Xavier proselytized in Hirado in 1550, Christian culture flourished in the Nagasaki region.

Suppression and Concealment

The ban on Christianity and Sakoku polity (i.e. national seclusion) were implemented for over 250 years during the Edo era. Despite the complete absence of missionaries, Christianity was secretly passed down from generation to generation in the Nagasaki region.
Oura Cathedral
Oura Cathedral(Nagasaki city)


In 1865, a group of ‘Hidden Christians’ visited Oura Cathedral (which had recently been built in Nagasaki by a French missionary to the newly re-opened Japan) in order to confess their faith. This stunning and moving discovery of Christians was reported to the world. After the ban on Christianity was officially lifted in 1873 , churches were built in the villages that had continuously preserved their faith despite the ban, as a testimony to their keeping of the faith. Today there are over 130 churches in Nagasaki Prefecture, the highest distribution of churches in Japan.

Candidate for World Heritage

“Churches and Christian sites in Nagasaki” was included in Japan’s Tentative List for World Heritage nomination in 2007. Our goal is to have it inscribed as a world heritage site in 2015, the 150th anniversary of the “discovery of Christians”, in order to share this valuable property with the entire world and pass it down to future generations.

Reference: "Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki"(UNESCO's page)
discovery of Christians
Monument commemorating "Discovery of Christians" (Oura Cathedral)