Preserving Imatomi's culture
"I want to untie the knots of this buried history..."
The only person left in Imatomi who still makes the unique kind of sawagi which the village’s Hidden Christians used to make, 84-year-old Kawashima Futoki, is handing on this tradition to his nephew, 61-year-old Kawata Tomihiro. "Now that everybody has converted to Shinto, I am the only person left who continues to observe the old Hidden Christian rituals. In Imatomi, various places [which held significance for the Hidden Christians] still remain: a former residence of a mizukata [the person within Hidden Christian communities responsible for performing baptisms], a place where o-mizutori happened [a Hidden Christian ritual known as a “water-drawing ceremony”], as well as a winged stone statue called umantera-sama at the top of a mountain. We shouldn’t neglect our village’s culture". As Mr. Kawashima says these words, his nephew Tomihiro nods vigorously in agreement. Mr Kawashima has always been interested in history, and when he was a high school student, he hunted with his history teacher for the remains of an orphanage which a French priest, Father FERRIÉ, had established (another priest, Father GARNIER, later moved the orphanage's location and took it over). Upon finding an old water well among the mountains, they knew that they had discovered the spot. As he says with a slight twinkle in his eye, "There are still many things I would like to research. I want to untie the knots of this buried history and pass on the traditions [of Imatomi village]".