Catholic Village, Sotome

Photographer Kei Orihara first happened upon the village of Shitsu in the Sotome region on a drive up the coast north of Nagasaki. As the road veered away from the sea cliffs into a valley riddled with rifts and ridges, she took a side road that led to a church on a hill. A plaque noted that parishioners had built this house of worship in 1882 with funds donated by its priest, Father Marco de Rotz. Orihara was especially intrigued by a beautiful and very Japanese display of ikebana (arranged flowers) on the altar. She returned at dawn to witness morning mass, which was as simple and as fervent as a Christmas service she’d once observed in a remote Italian village. The difference was that this roomful of wrinkled, sun-blackened fishermen with their wives, of boys with old-fashioned buzz cuts and girls in traditional bangs—this village congregation who made Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. Paul central to their lives in the late twentieth century—were Japanese.

Excerpt from Intersect Magazine, September, 1994. Continue reading.