Christian sites join heritage list

JAPAN’S UNESCO World Heritage sites showcase some of the most spectacular aspects of the country’s ancient culture, with new additions perhaps more familiar to western culture.

Entitled “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region”, the newly inscribed group of Japanese sites is located in the north-western part of Kyushu island and involves 10 villages, a castle and a cathedral, all built between the 16th and 19th centuries.

The sites reflect the earliest activities of Christian missionaries and settlers in Japan, and according to UNESCO “bear unique testimony to a cultural tradition nurtured by hidden Christians in the Nagasaki region who secretly transmitted their faith during the period of prohibition from the 17th to the 19th century”. They include the 19th century Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, the oldest surviving church in Japan.

 

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