Christian Sites in Japan Added to World Heritage List

Society Culture Guide to Japan

Tokyo, June 30 (Jiji Press)--A UNESCO committee decided Saturday to inscribe a dozen sites related to Christianity in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures on the World Cultural Heritage list, Japan's Cultural Affairs Agency said the same day.

The set of "Hidden Christian sites" in the southwestern prefectures became the 18th world cultural heritage property in Japan, following the inscription last year of Okinoshima, a sacred island in Fukuoka Prefecture, also in southwestern Japan, and related sites.

With natural properties included, Japan gained the 22nd site registration approval from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

The 12 sites to be added to the cultural heritage list are 10 villages in Nagasaki and the Amakusa region of Kumamoto where hidden Christians maintained their faith when the religion was banned in the country in the 17th to 19th centuries, Hara Castle in Minamishimabara, Nagasaki, and Oura Cathedral, built in the city of Nagasaki between the 16th and 19th centuries. The castle was the main stage of Shimabara Rebellion, a Christian revolt.

"Together they reflect the earliest activities of Christian missionaries and settlers in Japan," the committee said after making the inscription decision at its ongoing meeting in Manama, Bahrain.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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