Otome Chapel (乙女峠)
(photo copyright by Ojisanjake)
Iwami region is home to one of Japan's 'little Kyotos', smaller scale versions of the delightful city. Tsuwano has outstanding shrines and temples, incredible festivals, hot springs, sake breweries, a Christian history, an amazing garden, and even a steam train.
*Free entrance fee
A visit to the Iwami region of Shimane must include some visits to local shrines and temples, but Tsuwano is unique in this area for having a Christian chapel. Otome chapel was built in 1851. In Japan, after restoration of Imperial power in 1868, Japan’s feudal government made a policy to prevent people from having faith in Christ. Then, 153 Christians were persecuted here. Around that time, Tsuwano clan promoted Shinto, and were famous for that study around Japan. The feudal government hated any other religion and tried to remove Christianity and other religions. A scholar of Tsuwano clan, Fukuba Bisei (福羽美静) headed the project to inhibit the Christian faith . But it was not working well, so Japanese government killed Christians. This chapel is built to commemorate for these people who were killed at that time. Nowadays, Otome festival (乙女祭り) takes place on March 3rd every year. This church is said to be the only place in Japan where the Virgin Mary appeared. You can learn about that cruel history which happened in Japan at this chapel.
It takes about 15 minutes on foot from Tsuwano station. It's a little difficult to find so please look out for the sign as you walk from the station along the main road lined with restaurants.
The chapel grounds also feature an odd telephone booth with two receivers. Share a conversation with friends or simply talk to yourself!
(Written by Natsuki)