Hidden Christians of Amakusa


Follow the hidden history of Christianity in Japan!


Located in the Southwest region of Kumamoto Prefecture, Amakusa is a remote beauty waiting to be discovered. It’s made up of 2 main islands – Kamishima and Shimoshima, along with other small islands of varying sizes.



The region is connected by five bridges that showcase amazing scenery of the scattered islands. Despite its distance from the city, Amakusa is a place where people can enjoy and peruse the quiet fishing village.




Hidden Christians of Amakusa



Christianity was first brought to Japan in 1549 by a Jesuit priest named Francis Xavier when trading opened in Kagoshima. Not long after, it spread to neighboring areas such as Nagasaki and Amakusa.


In 1614, the Tokugawa regime felt threatened by the growth of Christianity out of their fear of colonialism. Persecutions began and the eradication of Christianity started. Missionaries and priests alike were killed, while those who practiced Christianity were given an option to renounce their faith or face death. Some chose to convert to Shintoism and Buddhism in order to hide their Christian faith.


Fed up with famine and cruel treatment, peasants from Amakusa organized a rebellion to fight against the regime. This resulted in the Shimbara Rebellion, which is considered as one of the largest revolts during the Edo period. The Christians lost the rebellion when they got blindsided by an ally.


Thousands of Japanese who fought for freedom lost their lives during the rebellion.  From then on, Christians in Nagasaki region, especially those living in Amakusa, started worshiping in shadows. They kept their faith for centuries despite facing great difficulties such as not having access to the church and bible. Amakusa, being a small group of islands, was hard to monitor. This made it a good hideout for Christians.


It took 250 years before the anti-Christian ban was lifted and the religious freedom was given to the people of Japan. These days, Christianity in Amakusa is in danger of dying out as there are only a few people in Amakusa who practice the faith.


In Shimo Amakusa, you can stop by at Amacusa Collegio Museum to know more about the town’s history and Christianity.