n 1571, the year after the opening of the port of Nagasaki, the Jesuit missionary Belchior de Figueiredo (of Portugal) established the “Church on the Cape” (Church of São Paulo; Jp. misaki no kyōkai) at the tip of the cape where the settlement had been founded.
In addition, the Society of Jesus had also established its headquarters in Japan in 1593. Although the Church on the Cape was dismantled on the orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the expansion process of the church, it subsequently underwent repeated construction and alteration, and eventually was completed in 1601. The newly established church was then Nagasaki’s largest church, named the Church of the Assumption (Church of Nossa Senhora Santa Maria da Assunção; Jp. hishōten no seibo kyōkaidō). The Church of the Assumption became the seat of the first bishop of the diocese of Japan. At the same time, other buildings including Bishop’s Palace, and Collegio were also established.
From the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century, many churches were built in Nagasaki, and the city was said to have prospered like a “small Rome” as a center of Nanban trade (i.e., trade with Spain and Portugal). However, most of these churches, including those on the cape, were demolished in 1614 in response to the anti-Christian edicts issued by the Tokugawa shogunate, resulting in the disappearance of the townscape’s Christian character.
With the subsequent establishment of the Nagasaki Magistrate’s West Office (Nagasaki bugyōsho nishi yakusho) in 1633, the Naval Training Center (kaigun denshūjo) in 1855, and the Medical Training Center (igaku denshūjo) in 1857, the site has housed successive generations of important facilities, most recently the Nagasaki Prefectural Office from 1874 (until its relocation in 2018).
Monuments to the Former Site of the Headquarters of the Society of Jesus, the Nagasaki Magistrate’s West Office, and the Naval Training Center have been erected at the site of the former Nagasaki Prefectural Office, and an interpretive panel introducing these three facilities can be found to the left of the front gate.
※The site of the former Nagasaki prefectural office is under inspection, so you may not be able to see the monument.