Column

A tombstone in which two cultures meet

An early Japanese Christian tombstone which looks like a semi-cylindrical column that has been laid down. An epitaph has been engraved using the Roman alphabet, with the Christian era date and the name of the Japanese era written alongside one another.

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Christian Tombstone Christian Tombstone
Christian Tombstone

Within the semicircular part at the front of the tombstone, an epitaph has been engraved using the Roman alphabet and Portuguese orthography: FIRISACYEMO DIOGO XONE (83) GOX IRAI 1610 IVG 16 QEICHO (15). It has been deciphered as follows: "Hirisakuemon Diego, aged 83, AD 1610, October 16th, Keichō 15 [i.e. the 15th year of the Keichō era]”. Exactly who was buried here remains unclear. The semicircular part at the front also has a double border, and in general the tombstone is the result of careful workmanship.
Large floral and clover cross patterns have been inscribed into the tombstone, as well as smaller wedged-cross patterns. The sandstone from which the tombstone was made is relatively brittle, and so exposure to wind and rain has meant that its engravings have gradually become less clear. Because the tombstone remained buried underground until 1929, however, it managed to escape substantial weathering for much of its long history.