Nagasaki’s Hidden Christians Survive Persecution and the Atomic Bomb

Photos by Ari Beser. An attic recreated at the 26 martyrs museum in Nagasaki shows how people kept their faith hidden under a ban on Christianity in Japan.

Nagasaki, Japan –A prophecy is alive in the hills of Nagasaki. For centuries Christians stayed hidden under a historical ban on their religion by the Tokugawa Shogunate, a government system that lauded itself for the most peaceful era in Japanese History.

Bastian was a priest in Nagasaki whose life is shrouded in mystery. He prophesied just before his execution in 1659 that:

“All of you shall be my sons and daughters down to the seventh generation. After that, a reverend father will come on a large ship and expiate your sins, by hearing your confession. Then you will be able to chant Christian hymns in a loud voice, anywhere in the public. Heathens shall give you the right-of-way, wherever you may be walking.”

Long before the atomic bomb was dropped, Nagasaki was famous for being Japan’s beacon to the west. Chinese, Portuguese, and Dutch traders have all passed through Nagasaki’s harbor and imparted a part of their culture along the way. Portuguese sponge cake called castera is still sold today as a Nagasaki staple. Dejima warf is a downtown tourist hot spot constructed to look like a 16th Century Dutch market, and Nagasaki’s China Town is Japan’s oldest and most vibrant.

A Dutch depiction on the treatment of Japanese Christians. While not exactly reflecting a real situation, people found guilty of practicing their faith were taken to geothermal hot springs and scalded with boiling water, or tortured in other ways until they recanted their faith.

Along with Western influence came its religion. Christianity came to Nagasaki in 1543 with a Jesuit missionary by the name of Francis —> Read More