Island of prayer
On Kuroshima, there is a special adjective meaning “pious” or “devout”. All of the islands Christians possess a picture of the Virgin Mary, a crucifix, a rosary and such like.
In 1912, after 15 years of living on Kuroshima, Father Marmand finally passed away. Although Father Marmand was no longer with them, Kuroshima’s Christians continued to place the church at the very centre of their lives. Whenever the church’s bells rang they would stop their work, face the church and pray. This became a very distinctive scene from daily life on the island. Unfortunately, nowadays the bell is no longer rung at midday, so this type of scene can no longer be seen. However, the faith of Kuroshima’s Christians remains the same.
In Kuroshima dialect, they even have a unique adjective, shinkoka, meaning “pious” or “devout”. 74-year-old Oomura Masayoshi is one individual to whom this word surely applies. Under normal circumstances, he attends 6am mass every morning without fail. “All the Christians on this island keep a picture of Mary, a rosary, a crucifix and so on as an omamori [a Japanese word more commonly associated with Shinto and Buddhism meaning “amulet” or “good-luck charm”]. Even brave fishermen keep [a statue or an image of] Mary in their boats. God protects us”, he says with a smile. Kuroshima’s population may have already fallen to around 500 people (of which about 80% are Christian), but on this tiny island the voice of prayer still resounds.