JAPAN TRAVEL: Sakitsu Village, A UNESCO World Heritage Site in Amakusa
Sakitsu Village is a small fishing village recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an important cultural site in Japan that played a significant role for hidden Christians as it was considered a hiding place for them to practice their faith.
FROM THE TOP. Sakitsu feels like it’s a cross between a classic Christian town and an old-school Japanese village.
At present, the village’s rustic charm through its alleyways, religious structures, stone walls, still remains. The beautiful coastal village was founded during the Sengoku Period and its landscape still appears to be the same during the Edo Period (1603-1868).
The view from the Sakitsu Village Guidance Center
Sakitsu Village has a traditional charm unlike any other
Located at the northern shores of Yokaku Bay, Sakitsu Village is such a sight to see made more beautiful by its rich sacred history. It is a solemn area in Amakusa where one can learn about the history of Christianity and how it flourished ever since.
When in Sakitsu Village, trying the local delicacy sugi yokan is a must. It’s a rice cake made of sweet bean paste. Most of the stores in the village sell this traditional Amakusa sweet.
To learn more about the history of Sakitsu, it is best to join a Sakitsu Walking Tour, composed of Sakitsu-based tourist guides who will explain the 250-year history of this holy site. English and Chinese speaking guides are available.
The iconic Sakitsu Church
Also known as the Cathedral of the Sea, the Sakitsu Church is a sacred symbolic structure in Sakitsu Village. It was established in 1569 by Portuguese missionary Luis de Almeida, but the present structure was built in 1934.
Nestled in Sakitsu Village, this church is characterized by its Gothic features, designed by Yosuke Tetsukawa, a known carpenter who is also the man behind the design of other churches in the district.
CATHOLIC CHURCH. One of the first churches built in Sakitsu, it’s a showcase of how the people of Sakitsu combined their Japanese culture with Western design.
From the outside, one can see its Gothic architectural features making it an eye-catching attraction in Sakitsu Village facing the Yokaku Bay. Inside, it retains its Japanese touch by using tatami mats for flooring. An altar is placed in front of the church commemorating those who died during the Christianity ban. Mass is held here every Sunday morning.
How to get here
From Amakusa Airport, take the Sanko Bus at Hondo Bus terminal. Get on a bus bound for Icchouda Chuou. From there, transfer to another bus bound for Shimoda Onsen and get off at Kyoukai Iriguchi. From there, it is a 1-minute walk towards Sakitsu Village.
Address: Sakitsu, Kawazu-cho, Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture
Operating Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sakitsu Church)
This also appeared on Philippine Primer magazine’s February 2019 issue.