Hirado City, Japan
By: Mark I.Quijano
Located in the northwestern corner of Kyushu, Hirado City is one of the best places to visit in southern Japan.
What makes this city unique?
I’ve been to Nagasaki city and other parts of Nagasaki prefecture several times, but Hirado city remains on the top of my lists of places to visit in the future. This city has lots of interesting things to explore. And for me, the irresistible beauty of nature and the century-old business and Christian history of Hirado make this little city unique.
Located at the northern tip of Ikitsuki Island, this lighthouse is standing at the top of the steep cliffs. The lighthouse is officially called “Obae Hana Lighthouse”. It was built in 1958. This lighthouse is one of the few lighthouses in Japan where one can climb up and enjoy the views from the viewing deck for free. From the tower, anyone can see the sweeping views of the sea and the green scenery that covers the entire Island. The beautiful sunset is also favorably visible from here. This lighthouse is visited by both local and foreign tourists and has become one of the iconic places of Hirado.
Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world today. It has a rich Christian history that began in early 1500. However, recent statistics shows that only 1 percent of Japan’s total population practice Christianity.
In 1550, Christian faith was brought to Hirado by Francisco Xavier. But, in 1587, Hideyoshi Toyotomi issued an interdict against the Christian faith in fear of a decline in political power and started a severe suppression of the Christian community. Christianity was also prohibited in the Edo Period. Many Christians were executed in the first half of the 17th century. Others decided to move to the Islands of Nagasaki, particularly in Hirado or (Firando) to escape death from persecutions.
At the moment, there are at least 130 Catholic Churches in Nagasaki prefecture, the main area for Christians in Japan. Other Christian denominations such as Seventh Day Adventists and Baptists are now present in this prefecture.
Tourists have their photo taken in front of Hirado Church
St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church (Hirado Church)
The record shows that this Church was originally built in 1913 and reconstructed in 1931 at its current location. As part of the 1971 memorial celebrations of St. Francis Xavier’s visit to Hirado, a statue of the missionary was erected here and the church was renamed to St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church. It is now one of Hirado’s popular tourist spots and a well-known landmark of the city.
The interior part of the famous St. Francis Church.
Gaspar-sama Martyrdom Site
Ikitsuki basalt columns
In Hirado, Ikitsuki Island is one of the 100 special sights in Nagasaki prefecture these days. It is blessed with cliffs. Halfway up the coast there are rock formations that always amazed visitors, the Ikitsuki basalt columns or “shiodawara” in Japanese, which means “salt bag”.The rock cracked vertically so it creates pillar-like rock formations. For photographers, to get a good angle of the rocks is quite difficult. One must go down from the top of the clip a bit. The path is very narrow so the exploration is quite tricky and dangerous, but there’s no other way down. Just be careful.
In this city, guests need not worry about foods because locally produced rice are available in the market. Fresh marine products are also available at the market everyday.