the Degree Confluence Project

Japan : Kyūshū

6.0 km (3.7 miles) SW of Kasuga, Higashi-sonogi-chō, Nagasaki-ken, Kyūshū, Japan
Approx. altitude: 456 m (1496 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 33°S 50°W

Accuracy: 30 m (98 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Three views of N33 E130 #3: From shimabara to the confluence #4: 350 meters from the confluence #5: Path leading to the confluence #6: Shimabara castle #7: Village near Hara Castle #8: The 16-year-old leader of the Shimabara Rebellion and the flag used during that rebellion #9: Nagasaki Station #10: Oura Catholic Church

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  33°N 130°E (visit #1)  

#1: Confluence N33 E130

(visited by Fabrice Blocteur)

Japanese Narrative

12-Aug-2003 -- When the ferry docked at the Shimabara terminal at around 2 pm, two days after my visit to the confluence 33°N 132°E, Mt Unzen-dake was completely covered by some heavy storm clouds ready to burst. I visited the castle and the small museum inside with historical items related to Christians in Japan. The castle played a part in the Shimabara Rebellion (1637-38) which led to the suppression of Christianity in Japan and the country’s subsequent two centuries of seclusion from the rest of the world. I followed the final steps of that rebellion and drove south to Hara-jo Castle, almost at the southern tip of the Shimabara peninsula. Here the Christian-peasant rebels, led by a sixteen-year-old youth, whose Christian name was Geronimo, made their final valiant stand against the overwhelming armies of the Shogun. A Dutch man-of-war was even chartered to bombard the 37000 hapless rebels, who held out for 90 days but were eventually slaughtered. Little remains of the castle.

I turned north by cutting across the peninsula via Mt Unzen-dake. Less than half way to the top I got into a mix of fog and clouds with a visibility reduced to 10 meters. There was no point in going to the summit so I stopped at the hot spring resort of Unzen for a hot bath. I came back down the western side of the mountain and was soon caught by a torrential rain that kept on pouring down all the way to Nagasaki. It was almost 9 pm when I stopped near the station. After looking for a while, I found a small hotel nearby. Each of the dozen rooms or so had one poster pinned on the door advertising ‘massaaji’ for ¥2000 (US$17). I didn’t inquire about the kind of massage I could get for that price and went to bed.

When I got up the next morning at six, it was still drizzling. I decided to stay one extra night in Nagasaki and to spend part of the morning looking for the confluence N33 E130. According to my map, the confluence was near the Nagasaki expressway, 30 km north of the station. I got off the expressway at the Omura interchange and followed Road 6 up the mountain for half a dozen km. 350 meters from the point, a small path used by loggers and barred by a chain was branching off on the left. I got off the motorbike, followed that path westward and passed a small hut with ladders inside. I got as close as 60 meters from the point before leaving the trail and turning south through Japanese cedars for about 20 meters. The slope was getting slippery and I stopped there to take a few pictures before going back to Nagasaki and spend the afternoon visiting the city.

Nagasaki is best known throughout the world as the city where the second atomic bomb felt on August 1945, but it’s also a city with a fascinating early history of contact with Europeans, much of it tied up with the dramatic events of the ‘Christian Century’. The first contact with Europeans was made by the accidental arrival of an off-course Portuguese ship in 1542. The Jesuit missionary St Francis Xavier landed in Kagoshima in 1549 and arrived in Nagasaki in 1560. “The best people yet discovered,” said Xavier of the Japanese. “… a people who prize honor above all else.” The introduction of Christianity to Japan, according to Miyazaki Kentaro, a Japanese scholar, “marked the first important meeting of Japan with the West, and the religious communication that followed signified much more than a mere brush with the exotic. Indeed, it was a head-on collision between Western culture--the core of which is Christianity--and Japanese culture with its ancient hodgepodge of Shintoism, Buddhism and folk religion. It signified, in other words, an encounter between the monotheistic worldview inherent in Western culture and the polytheistic worldview of Japan”.

More missionaries soon followed St Francis Xavier and converted local lords keen to profit from foreign trade. The missionaries built schools, seminars and colleges, teaching science, language, mathematics, medicine and music. By the turn of the century, between 300,000 and one million people had converted to Christianity, particularly in and around Nagasaki, the biggest Christian population of any Asian country at the time. Tolerated by the shogun as a counterbalance to Buddhism, this tolerance gradually gave way to the suspicion of subversion by an alien religion which was deemed a threat to his rule. Jesuit missionaries were expelled and a policy of persecution was soon implemented. In 1597, 26 European and Japanese Christians were crucified in Nagasaki and in 1614 the religion was banned. The Christian-led Shimabara uprising of 1637 was the final chapter in the events of the ‘Christian Century’ although the religion continued to be practiced in secret. All contact with foreigners was banned and no Japanese were allowed to travel overseas. The one small loophole in this ruling was the closely watched Dutch enclave at Dejima Island in Nagasaki. The former island has long disappeared and the only testament to a religion that survived repeated attempts to stamp it out is the graceful Oura Catholic Church just below Glover Garden built in 1864 for Nagasaki’s new foreign community. The church is dedicated to the 26 Christians crucified on a nearby hill.

Japanese Narrative

12-Aug-2003 -- 北緯33度東経132度交差地点を訪れた2日後、午後2時過ぎにフェリーが島原港停泊したとき、雲仙岳はぶ厚い雨雲にすっかり覆われ、いまにも嵐が吹き荒れだしそうだった。私は、城と、日本のキリスト教に関連した歴史的な品々を納めた小さな博物館を訪ねた。その城は、島原の乱(1637~38)で役割を演じ、これが日本におけるキリスト教の弾圧とその後2世紀にわたる鎖国へと導くこととなった。私は、乱の最後のあとをたどり、島原半島のほぼ南端にあたる原城へと走った。ここでは、ジェロニモというキリスト教名を持つ16歳の若者に率いられたキリスト教徒の農民たちが、圧倒的な幕府軍に対して最後の勇敢な戦いを挑んだのであった。37000人の絶望的な農民たちを平定するためにオランダ人が雇われ、農民たちは90日間たてこもったが、やがて徐々に虐殺され、城に生き残ったものはほとんどなかった。



長崎は1945年8月に世界で2番目の原始爆弾が落とされた都市として最もよく知られている。長崎は、ヨーロッパとの興味あふれるかかわりの歴史をもつ町でもある。そしてその歴史は、「キリスト教の世紀」の劇的な出来事と結び付けられている。ヨーロッパ人との最初の出会いは、1542年に、航路をそれたポルトガル船の不慮の到着によってもたらされた。イエズス会の宣教師フランシスコ ザビエルは、1549年に鹿児島に上陸し、1560年には長崎にやってきた。ザビエルは日本人について、「なによりも名誉を重んじる最上の民がようやく見つかった」と言っている。日本人の学者宮崎健太郎によれば、「キリスト教の日本への導入は、日本と西洋との最初の重要な出会いであり、そしてまた、単なるエキゾティクな刹那的なふれあいを超えた宗教上の交流をともなったのである。 実際、それは、キリスト教を核とする西洋文化と神道、仏教、そのたの民俗宗教の寄せ集めとでもいうべき古い日本文化との正面衝突であった。言い換えれば、それは、西洋文明由来の一神教的世界観と日本の多神教的世界観の遭遇を意味した。」


Translated by Yukio Takahashi

 All pictures
#1: Confluence N33 E130
#2: Three views of N33 E130
#3: From shimabara to the confluence
#4: 350 meters from the confluence
#5: Path leading to the confluence
#6: Shimabara castle
#7: Village near Hara Castle
#8: The 16-year-old leader of the Shimabara Rebellion and the flag used during that rebellion
#9: Nagasaki Station
#10: Oura Catholic Church
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)