Memories of church life
Tabira church was at the very heart of peoples’ lives. Some would walk for hours in order to attend Mass.
Walking to mass as a family
“My ancestor was the first Christian to migrate from Sotome [to Tabira]” says Imamura Kunio with a gentle look on his face. He is referring to his great-great-grandfather Imamura Joukichi, who migrated to Tabira under the guidance of Father de Rotz. “Because my parents were also very devout, we walked for about 40 minutes from our house to the church to attend Sunday Mass”, Mr. Imamura says, recalling his days as a primary school student during the third decade of the Shōwa era. “During the Taishō period [1912-1926] when the church was built, I’ve heard that many of the families who attended mass would travel from places such as Hirado-guchi and from towards the faraway Matsuura, and that others would travel for 2-3 hours”. Through listening to Mr. Imamura speak, we are offered a sense of just how important Tabira church was to the Christians who lived in the surrounding area.
Christmas at Tabira church
Christmas was the day children most looked forward to. As Mr. Imamura fondly recalls: “We put on our very best clothes, and sometimes we would receive brand new shoes to wear especially for that day. At home, there was wonderful food which we could not usually eat such as oshizushi, nishime and fukure manjū. I remember that it was very tasty”.
Today, Christmas is still a very important event for Tabira’s Christians. Every year they make a stable and decorate the inside of the church, and outside Christmas lights are arranged. “Today, children aren’t made to do church work as much as they were in past, but there are still around 20 of primary school age or lower who help the priest. We adults support them in this. Our mission is to protect this beautiful church which our ancestors built, and to preserve our culture by passing it on”.