Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord…
Next to the church is a graveyard, where earlier generations of Tabira’s Christians are buried
On the north side of Tabira church, there is a large graveyard (called Setoyama graveyard) where successive generations of Tabira’s Christians are buried. Heizou Yoshimura (the man who had originally been living in this spot and who only received baptism shortly prior to his death) became the first Christian to be buried here. Father Nakata, who played a big part in the church’s construction, is also buried here, and he now silently watches over the church he helped build. On his gravestone, it is still possible to make out the words (in Japanese) Shu yo, eien no ansoku wo kare ni atae tamae (“Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord”), although the inscription is hard to read due to weathering.
Those who migrated to Tabira faced numerous hardships as they first cultivated the land around them, much of which was mountainous and wild, and then worked together to build a magnificent brick church. It is fitting that those who devoted their lives to building Tabira church now rest in peace by its side.
(Please note that under normal circumstances, visitors are politely requested to refrain from entering the graveyard).