While Nagasaki and Saga are known for its multicultural and historical backgrounds, there are also many sacred spots with religious ties.
Visit these spiritual locations that have listened to the prayers and wishes of people for so many years.
Since ancient times, Nagasaki had established relations with Mainland China and also served as the only gate of Japan open to the outside world during the 17th-19th centuries as they traded with China and the Netherlands. This is why it is possible to observe strong influences of Chinese culture in the food, architecture, and even festivals of Nagasaki.
Located within the city, the Nagasaki Confusian Shrine is a shrine worshipping Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and founder of Confucianism, whose teachings greatly impacted Japan as well as eastern Asia. The shrine was erected in 1893 by Chinese residents of Nagasaki with support from the Qing Dynasty government, and it is a classic Chinese architecture possessing traditional beauty that matches qualities of the head shrine of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province in China.
The entire building is truly amazing, however the Gimon Gate, or inner front gate is especially worth visiting. The central gate is highly sacred and traditionally only Gods and Emperors were able to pass through. Therefore the decorations are extremely detailed and elaborate.
After walking through the Gimon Gate there is the incense burner, which is an auspicious Feng Shui spot, and beyond are 72 statues of the sages of Confucius aligned to the left and right. The Taisei Hall (main hall) is simply outstanding and is an important cultural heritage that remains as it did when first constructed. The sitting statue of Confucius received the ritual for placing the soul of Confucius at Qufu, and is enshrined in the main hall.
In the hall is the “analects” of conversations between Confucius and his disciples, engraved on marble. Nearby the Gimon Gates is the Yuza-no-ki (“Tipping Warning Vessel”), which is a vessel allowing people to experience and understand the Confucian teaching of “everything overturns when full”. All sections of the Nagasaki Confusian Shrine display the teachings of Confucius. It also has a Chinese historical museum with treasure-class Chinese artifacts, making the temple a unique spot in Nagasaki that introduces true Chinese culture.
Learn more of the attractions of Nagasaki with English guidance!
The photo shooting and publication of the churches’ photos have the approval of the archdiocese
Christianity was first introduced to Japan in the 16th century by the missionary Francis Xavier, who visited Hirado in Nagasaki 3 times during his life. Although Christianity was a forbidden religion during the Edo period, the Christian followers of Hirado became what was known as “hidden” Christians and continued to devote themselves to the teachings of the religion. Once the restriction was uplifted in the late 19th century they were finally able to build numerous churches in the region. These beautiful churches symbolize their dedicated faith that endured such difficult times in the past.
The construction of the Tabira Catholic Church began in 1915 and took 3 years to complete. Since there was very little information on western architecture at the time, original techniques were used to build the church. It was designed and constructed by Yosuke Tetsukawa, who is known to have created many artistic churches in Nagasaki. A characteristic feature of his beautiful churches are the combination of Japanese and western building materials such as the use of bricks and Japanese roof tiles.
The Himosashi Church was also constructed by Yosuke in 1929, and used reinforced concrete. Himosashi had a particularly high number of Christians, and so it became one of the biggest Romanesque church in the country at the time.
The Saint Francis Xavier Memorial Church was built in 1931, and is famous for its brilliant moss-green steeple that reaches towards the sky. There are also many temples located nearby, making it a characteristic scenery of Hirado where temples and churches stand together.
Another place worth visiting along with the churches is the Kasuga Village, a settlement where the hidden Christians’ History remains strong. The scenery of the terrace rice fields hasn’t changed since Christianity was spread in the 16th century, as there are still some small shrines that reminds the visitors of the hidden Christian’s Era. It almost feels as if this is also a representation of the villagers’ devotion who continued to pray for so many years.
Tabira Catholic Church
Saint Francis Xavier Memorial Church
Book convenient taxi tours for visiting the churches!
The Yutoku Inari Shrine in Kashima, Saga prefecture, is considered as one of the most famous places in Kyushu where spiritual energy flows through. It is also one of the three major Inari Shrines in Japan, ranked along with the Fushimi Inari Taisha of Kyoto and Kasama Inari Shrine in Ibaraki. The magnificent shrine is also referred to as “Chinzei Nikko”, which means the Nikko Toshogu of the west.
The grand main hall is located halfway up the mountain, with 18 meters tall pillars supporting the main stage of the shrine and colored with rich lacquer that makes the building stand out from the surrounding shade of trees and leaves. The three great Gods including Inari Okami are enshrined, and visiting the shrine is said to bring prosperity for money and family.
Within the large precinct there are over small 40 Oyashiro called Setsumatsusha’s, which are small shrines that also respond to the wishes of people who visit to pay respect. For example, right under the main hall is the Iwasaki Shrine that brings good fortune for matchmaking. After walking up the stairs with arches of the red Torii (gate) you will find the Oku-no-In at the summit. This shrine brings luck for business, and also has a spectacular view of the Ariake Sea.
Various flowers are in bloom throughout the year at Yutoku Inari Shrine, such as azaleas and wisterias in April. Enjoy relaxing moments as you walk through the precinct surrounded by rich nature and visiting the main hall as well as Setsumatsusha.
Taxi Tours for visiting shrines+enjoying local culture!
Located about 10 minutes by boat from Karatsu, a castle town in the northwestern region of Saga prefecture, is the unique Hoto Shrine. It was originally a shrine that worshipped a warrior that protected the island from pirates during the 16th century, and was honored as a god that responded to the wishes of the islanders. However since 20-30 years ago, many people began visiting the shrine to pray and improve their luck with lotteries, since its name can also be read as “winning the lottery”. After several visitors began winning large amounts of money, various media came to cover the shrine, and it now attracts about 200,000 people each year.
The number of letters on the wall of the shrine, reporting news of winning the lottery makes it even more convincing to those who visit the shrine. Make sure to get the “winning charm” that helps to further strengthen your luck for winning the lottery. There are stores selling items related to lotteries as well as a famous cat that is also known to bring good fortune, making the shrine a place that must be visited if you are into playing the lottery.
Taxi Tour to pray for winning+enjoying local specialties!
From Tokyo Haneda Airport
Number of departures per day: Approx. 5※
From Tokyo Haneda Airport
Number of departures per day: Approx. 8※
From Nagoya Chubu Airport
Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※
From Osaka Itami Airport
Number of departures per day: Approx. 3※
*Information correct as of January 31 2017
Details correct as of the end of January 2017.