Japan’s ageing ‘Hidden Christians’ fear they may be their religion’s last generation

in News

Published November 15, 2019, 8:36 AM

By Reuters

IKITSUKI ISLAND/NAGASAKI CITY, Japan – His face weathered from years at sea, kimono-clad Japanese fisherman Masaichi Kawasaki kneels before an altar adorned with images of the Virgin Mary, crossing himself as he softly intones chants handed down through centuries.

A statue of Virgin Mary is seen on a gravestone of descendants of ‘Hidden Christians’ who preserved their faith in secret during centuries of persecution, at a cemetery on Ikitsuki Island, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, November 6, 2019. (REUTERS/Issei Kato/MANILA BULLETIN)

Kawasaki, 69, is one of a dwindling number of Japan’s “Kakure Kirishitan,” or “Hidden Christians,” descendants of those who preserved their faith in secret during centuries of persecution.

His unique faith blends Buddhist, Christian and Shinto practices, and its ritual

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