Where Diego climbs a hill, travels back in time, and goes for a stroll.
First part of three.
We’ve got a long day ahead with lots to see, so I’ve divided the post for 8th April into three parts.
Bright and clear skies greeted me on Monday morning as I set off on foot towards one of Nagasaki’s most sacred sites, located just a short walk from the main JR station.
On the 5th of February 1597, 26 Catholics – mostly Japanese (including a 12-year-old boy) but also including a few foreign missionaries – were crucified in Nagasaki on the orders of the Toyotomi government. A detailed account of their martyrdom can be found here.
The site of the crucifixions, Nishizaka Hill, is now crowned by a peaceful park and a memorial raised to honour their triumphant sacrifice.
Just behind the memorial is a rather nondescript building.
Don’t be fooled by the drab exterior into giving this place a miss, because inside is a small but very richly endowed museum containing information on the martyrs and on the history of Christianity in Japan. The display cases are filled with such priceless treasures as original documents (including an original letter to the King of Portugal penned by St. Francis Xavier himself), artworks, icons, and excavated artefacts related to the early Japanese Christians. There’s such an incredible amount of historical value in the exhibits here that I feel a far, far larger exhibition space is warranted, although the curators have done a very excellent job indeed with the limited space that was available to them.
Unfortunately (but understandably), photography isn’t permitted inside the museum – otherwise I would have killed the entire morning just by snapping images of every single item on display.
Back outside, I took a closer look at the memorial to the 26 martyrs before going on a leisurely stroll around the park.
Representatives of Nagasaki’s feline community were out in force patrolling the edges of the park – some more diligently than others, of course.
After taking in the view from the hill – decent but badly obscured by tall buildings – I retraced my steps back to the train station and headed for the nearby streetcar stop. Waiting for the next tram on one’s desired route can be a rather boring exercise, but urban transport enthusiasts are bound to have a field day observing the colourful variety of vehicles rolling past the platforms.
From here, a Line 1 tram will take us to our next destination: the historic former Dutch trading post of Dejima.
To be continued.