Amakusa is a name of an area consists of approx. 120 large and small beautiful islands surrounded by East China sea, Ariake sea and Yatsushiro sea, located in the west of Kumamoto Prefecture. Known to be “Christian islands” because of a rebellion outbreak in 1637, of which members were mainly commoner who converted Christianity, led by a legendary 16-year-old boy Amakusa Shiro, fought against Shogun’s army and was defeated finally in three months. Even after those were all killed (but one), the locals of Amakusa have kept their belief and faith in secret until Christianity was legitimised in the late 19th century.
Your tour guide will give you a ride to Amakusa archipelagos for joining this dreamy tour, and it’s going to be a long driving way to get there (it should take around 2.5 hours by car from Kumamoto city) with a variety of beautiful scenery of the Amakusa archipelagos surrounded by the blue ocean. And finally go on a Dolphin watching tour by boat! The dolphins are all wild living in the ocean off the coast of Amakusa, and they can be seen through the year unless a bad weather condition.
08:30 Pickup at your Hotel
10:00 Enjoy a scenic ride through coastal roads
11:30 Embark a Dolphin watching boat
12:30 Finish Dolphin watching tour
14:30 Visit Toukou-ji Buddhist temple and experience “Zen” meditation
_____Or visit Amakusa Shiro Museum
17:30 Return to your Hotel
22,000 JPY + 9,000 JPY per person (children under age 12: 3,000 JPY discount, under age 6: 4,000 JPY discount, under 2: free of charge)
Max number of people: 7 (unless big luggage)
Amakusa Tour Includes:
Tour Customization / Transport / Photo upload
/ Dolphin watching /
Zen Meditation (option) / Amakusa Christian Museum (option)
Background of the Rebellion
Amakusa is one of the most well-known places as a big center of Christians in Japan. Christianity was introduced to Japan in the middle of 16th century and spread among commoner in particular and even some of the warlords in Kyushu became devout Christians. However, after Japan was unified by the most powerful warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Christianity got to be banned to believe as the time goes by, because the rulers thought it could be harmful to their domain if they allow commoner to convert to Christianity and learn Western knowledge. And besides, the warlords were also afraid of the invasion and slave trade by Western powers, particularly Spain and Portugal. In 1637, Amakusa’s local peasants who became christian and some of Ronin (Samurai without masters) rose against the local office after being suffered from heavy duty, having a 16-year-old boy named “Amakusa Shiro” as the leader of the rebellion. Although all of them were massacred by Shogun’s army next year after all, the practice and belief of the Christianity mixed with local customs had been handed down from generation to generation by the locals in secret.
Re-diffusion of Buddhism and Zen practice
After the rebellion, a lot of Buddhist temples were constructed for restoring mental balance of civilians by a local magistrate. Toukou-ji temple is one of them built in 1648, though it was burned down by accident in 1832 and reconstructed in 1860. Their doctrine has been handed down by 28 generations of Buddhist chief priests until today.
At Toukou-ji, you can learn and practice Zen inside the temple, lectured by the chief priest who speaks a little English.