Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church

Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church サント・ドミンゴ教会跡資料館

The Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church is adjacent to the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture in Nagasaki and exhibits the ruins of the Edo Period church of Santo Domingo.

The remains of the church were discovered during building work on the Sakuramachi Elementary School.

The church was moved from Kyodomari in what is now Kagoshima Prefecture to the Katsuyama area of Nagasaki by Father Morales of the Dominican Order. The church was built again from scratch in its new location.

Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church, Nagasaki, Kyushu.
Entrance for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church Entrance

The Santo Domingo Church was destroyed only five years later, however, as the Tokugawa regime began to crack down on Christianity within Japan. A statue of the Virgin Mary in the church was saved and transported to Manila in The Philippines, where it still survives.

Residence of Nagasaki Magistrates

After the destruction of the church, the site later became the residence of Heizo Suetsugu, the local magistrate or daikan or bugyo of Nagasaki, an official appointed by the shogun. Heizo had replaced Toan Murayama, a man he accused of Christian leanings and of siding with the Toyotomi clan in Osaka Castle in direct opposition to the Tokugawa.

Heizo Suetsugu had made his fortune through the lucrative, so-called "Red Seal Trade" with South East Asia and built a magnificent mansion above the remains of the former church.

Heizo, however, was accused of unlicensed trade and smuggling in 1676 and was exiled to the Oki Islands, off the coast of Matsue, in present-day Shimane Prefecture.

His successor was the Takagi family, who remained in the post of Nagasaki magistrate until the end of the Edo era in 1868.

Former Site of Santo Domingo Church, Nagasaki, Kyushu.
Former Site of Santo Domingo Church, Nagasaki
Former Site of Santo Domingo Church Island, Nagasaki, Kyushu.
Displays of round eaves tiles stamped with a floral cross

Exhibits

The Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church reveals the foundations of the original church viewable from a raised walkway through their center. The Exhibition Room on entry houses Christian relics, crosses and round roof tiles stamped with a floral cross found on site or at other archaeological digs across Nagasaki.

Foundation stones from the church were re-used in Suetsugu's residence and can still be seen along with a 17th century Iberian style stone pavement, leading to a basement. A stone drainage ditch, a stone well and another large stone basement have also been excavated, along with the discovery of much pottery.

Former Site of Santo Domingo Church, Nagasaki.
Former Site of Santo Domingo Church, Nagasaki
Former Site of Santo Domingo Church Island, Nagasaki.
Floral cross roof tile from the Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church, Nagasaki

Access - Getting to the Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church

The Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church is close to both Sakura-machi and Kokaido-mae tram stops and the Sakura-machi Koen-mae bus stop. Admission is free and the hours are 9am-5pm daily (closed Mondays).

Museum for the Former Site of Santo Domingo Church
30-1 Katsuyama-machi, Nagasaki 850-0028
Tel: 095 829 4340