July 28-29, 1998: Ikitsuki Island

Professor Shigmi Takei of Miyazaki University wrote a book "Nanban Music, its light and shade" attracted Jim's attention three years ago. He has been interested in specifically "Kakure-Kirishitan", or "Hidden Christian" introduced in the book. This time, thanks to Takei, we had a chance to visit Ikitsuki island in which they live in the westernmost part of Kyushu. This is the view of Ikitsuki island, far away, looking from Hirado island.
This unique designed Ikitsuki Bridge was constructed five years ago and connects Kyushu and Ikitsuki island. The crossing fee was 600 yen one way.
Just across the bridge is "Ikitsuki Island Museum" that displays history and living of the island. The island used to be a whale catching base in old days. In front of the entrance was a lovely model of a whale family. Professor Takei introduced a person in charge of the museum who explained us about Hidden Christian in detail. What we have been most interested in was "Oratio and Song Oratio" which has been handed down more than 450 years in a small isolated island of western Japan. Jim was very happy to have a chance to hear of them in video tapes.
We stayed a inn on the hill near the museum. The view was fine, looking down the inland sea and fishing port. We enjoyed fresh sashimi diner wearing Yukata which matches Jim very well.
On 29th, we toured the island to visit the ruin and memorial of the Hidden Christian. Japanese Christians were first accepted in mid 16th century, but after Hideyoshi era, they were persecuted and became Hidden Christian. They were made to tread on a tablet bearing an image of Christ. Those who were identified as Christian were caught and killed. This is a ruin of "Koshiro-sama." Koshiro had been a feudal local government official who was in charge of arresting Hidden Christians. One day on his searching Hidden Christians, he suddenly lost his sight near here. The Hidden Christians helped him and cured him of his blindness. After restoring the sight, Koshiro changed his mind to help Hidden Christians and fought against the officials. But finally he was caught and executed here.

The light house stand high on a cliff, featuring a breathtaking landscape. On the right is a coast of "Pillar Rocks."
A sacred ruin called "Danjiku-sama." A family of Hidden Christian secretly lived in this beach under the steep cliff covered with Danchiku(bamboo bush.) One day, a child was playing on the beach. Unfortunately he was witnessed by the official's patrol boat and caught. All the family were arrested and became martyrs. Today, in Ikitsuki island, about 1,000 Hidden Christians hand down orally Oratio and Song Oratio whose origin date back to Spain and Portugal 450 years ago. I hope they hand down quietly Oratios to the next generation.