Japan City Guides: St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church, Hirado
St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church 平戸
Hirado Island in Nagasaki Prefecture is home to some interesting Christian churches dating back one hundred years or so. Probably the most-photographed is the St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church in the town of Hirado itself.
Sitting atop a hill overlooking the small town and its harbor, the church was originally named the Hirado Catholic Church, but was renamed following the placing of a statue of St. Xavier in the grounds.
One of the sites of the town is "the view of temples and church" which can be had halfway up the lane leading up the hill.
The church was originally built on a different site in 1913, but was reconstructed at its present location in 1931.
Churches on Hirado
Other churches on Hirado Island include Kigatsu Church, Furue Church, Osashi Church, Houki Church, Himosashi Church, Yamano Church, Kamikouzaki Church and the beautiful Tabira Church over the bridge on the mainland.
All of these churches were built after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The Tokugawa ban on Christianity (the "evil sect") and the death penalty for its practice was lifted in 1873 and full freedom of religion was finally guaranteed in Japan by the Meiji Constitution of 1889.
The church is open from 6am to 6pm. There is no entry fee.
St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church
Tel: 0950 22 2442
St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church Access
There are connections to Tokyo, Osaka, Kagoshima, Okinawa and other destinations from Nagasaki Airport. Nagasaki Airport is about 40km from Nagasaki city center and buses to downtown Nagasaki take about an hour to Nagasaki Station.
Fukuoka Airport has both domestic and international connections to many airports throughout Japan and the Asian region.
JR trains from Fukuoka go to Hirado-guchi Station in Tabira (1 hour, 50 mins). There are trains from Nagasaki to Sasebo, change here for Tabira (90 minutes).
Express buses from Hakata Station take two hours. Express buses from Fukuoka Airport take 1 hour, 40 minutes. Express buses from Nagasaki Station and Nagasaki Airport both take 1 hour and 40 minutes.
There are regular buses to Sasebo from the bus terminal near the ferry port, the first bus departs at 5.48am with the last at 6.55pm. Local buses go to Miyanoura at the tip of the island via Kawachi and back.
There are ferries from Hirado to the outlying islands of Takushima and Azuchi-Oshima Island. A ferry connects Maetsuyoshi in the south of the island with Ainoura near Sasebo.