Saturday, December 12, 2009

Torture in Tsuwano! The Memorial Chapel of Mary


The Memorial Chapel of Mary is located in Otome Pass in Tsuwano. It was built in 1951 on the site of the torture and martyrdom of 25 Christians, including a 5 year old girl, in the early years of Meiji (1867-).


When Japan "opened" in the 1850's thousands of "hidden christians" mistakenly believed that it was safe to come out of the closet as a Christian Church had been constructed in Nagasaki by the French. Rather than execute them all, which is what the law proscribed, it was decided by the new government to disperse them to "re-education" camps across Japan and "encourage" them to join the new state-created religion of Shinto.


One method used on some of the 153 Christians sent to Tsuwano was imprisonment in tiny cages and left exposed to the elements. These statues show one of the famous martyrs, Yasutaro, who was visited by the Virgin Mary every night during his torture. Otome is the Japanese word for "virgin girl", and the pass was named Otome Pass because of an old, local legend that told of a young girl who was spurned and she wandered into the mountains here and disappeared.


There is a lot more detailed information on the martyrdom of the hidden Christians at this site


The short path leading up to the pass and chapel starts not far from the station in Tsuwano.


  1. Wow, what a beautiful and interesting place. Good post.

  2. Interesting post and informative. That church and spot seems very well preserved. If I am in that area, I would visit that place.

  3. I'd like to visit here too, so much history.

  4. I would never visit such a place. Those Christians deserved what they got. They shouldn't have been in Japan spreading this kind of religion in the first place. That's why Paul never sent missionaries to Asia.

  5. McAlpine... thats a very intolerant post.... they were Japanese Christians.....Japan has "imported" many religious traditions... do you think Buddhism is native to Japan?

  6. Hey,thanks for posting your pictures, I need photos for my report about Christianity in Japan (Asian Studies). Your pictures is a great help so thank you so much for posting it!!!!

  7. I have visited Tsuwano several times and have always been moved to prayer during my pilgrimage to The Virgin's Pass. Tsuwano is a great witness to the enduring faith of The Church in Japan and should give all Japanese Christians a sense of pride in the their continued faithfulness to the Gospel. I pray that the martyrs of Tsuwano will one day be canonized by the Church in honor of their sacrifice for the Lord.

  8. I was able to visit there in April, 2014. There was a lot of construction going on - they are improving the stairs and the area near the chapel. All that noise kinda ruined my visit. But in the future people may enjoy it more. That climb up the hill is also rather steep!

    Re: the disgusting post above - the people tortured and killed there were all Japanese - denied their right to live and worship as they wished. And by the way, Paul founded several churches in Asia Minor. You're as clueless as you are intolerant.