Tsuwano Things to Do

  • Maria Seido
    Maria Seido
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  • Stained Glass in the Maria Seido
    Stained Glass in the Maria Seido
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  • Otome Pass Memorial
    Otome Pass Memorial
    by Rabbityama

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    Maria Seido

    by Rabbityama Written Feb 28, 2014
    Maria Seido
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    The Maria Seido was built in the Otome Pass to remember the Christian martyrs who were tortured and killed here. Christianity was banned by the Tokugawa in the Edo Period. During that time, Christians (specifically Catholics) practiced in secrecy. The nation opened to foreign trade in 1856, and many Christians believed that Christianity was no longer banned, so they openly admitted their faith and interacted with the foreign Christians in Nagasaki. Unfortunately, the ban had not been lifted, so many Japanese Christians were taken to remote places throughout the country to be tortured and killed. Tsuwano was one of these places.

    In the Otome Pass, many Christians were brought and put in cages to be tortured. Thirty-six of them died. One reported visions of Mary coming to comfort him at night after the tortures.

    The church was built in memory of these Christians. Beside the church are statues depicting Mary and the man she spoke to. There is a path here that you can walk that has stones depicting each of the Stations of the Cross (events leading to Jesus' crucifixion), a particularly nice prayer and contemplation walk for visiting Catholics.

    The Maria Seido is free.

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    Tsuwano Castle Ruins

    by Rabbityama Written Jan 26, 2014

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    View from Tsuwano Castle Ruins
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    Tsuwano Castle was built by Yoshimi Noriyuki in the 13th century in order to protect the area from a Mongol invasion. The castle keep later burned down and the rest of the buildings were torn down in the 1870s during the Meiji Period. Today, only the castle walls remain, but the layout is impressive and very scenic, so it's still a highly worthwhile place to visit.

    Although it is a mountaintop castle, there is a chair lift that makes accessing it very easy. From the top of the lift, it takes 15-20 minutes to walk to the furthest point where the main keep once stood. The view of both the town below and the castle ruins themselves are spectacular.

    The castle ruins themselves are free. A roundtrip chairlilft ticket costs 450 yen.

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    Katsushika Hokusai Museum

    by Rabbityama Written Dec 11, 2013
    Katsushika Hokusai Museum

    Katsushika Hokusai is arguably the most famous ukiyo-e painter in Japan. His most famous work is the Wave of Kanagawa. Although he never actually visited Tsuwano, there is a museum here dedicated to his art. After the discovery of Hokusai's manga in Tsuwano, the museum was established by a Hokusai researcher.

    The most famous work housed here is one of Mount Fuji, but the museum owns over 1000 of his works. The art cannot all be displayed at once, so they are rotated. The museum is a rather small two-story museum, but fans of Hokusai and ukiyoe should definitely stop if you are in Tsuwano.

    Entrance is 500 yen.

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    Taikodani Inari Shrine

    by Rabbityama Written Dec 2, 2013

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    Taikodani Inari's Torii Gates
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    Taikodani Inari Shrine was first built in 1773 as a shrine to protect nearby Tsuwano Castle. The shrine is known for the 300 torii gates that lead to it. The torii gates are smaller than those found at Fushimi Inari in Kyoto and the area is more open, but the feeling is similar.

    Taikodani Inari Shrine is designated as one of the Five Great Inari Shrines of Japan. The list is highly contentious, so it is difficult to name the other four, but Taikodani Inari seems non-contentious.

    The shrine ground are free.

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    Tsuwano Catholic Church

    by Rabbityama Written Nov 19, 2013

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    Tsuwano Catholic Church
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    Tsuwano Catholic Church was built by Father Villion after his arrival in Tsuwano in 1892. This is interesting because the last martyrdom of Catholics that took place here was in 1871, so in just 21 years the town changed from a place of persecution to having its own Catholic church. The church is very simple inside and there are no pews. Instead, there are tatami mats. The current church dates back to 1932 after the original burned down in 1931.

    Within the church grounds is a small museum about Catholicism in Tsuwano and the torture and killing of Christians that took place in Otome Pass. They also have Bibles in various languages, including Ainu.

    Although it is a popular tourist destination in the town, it remains an active church to this day. It's a true testament to the resilience of the faithful.

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    Mori Ogai Memorial Museum

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 30, 2013
    Mori Ogai Memorial Museum
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    The Mori Ogai Memorial Museum is dedicated to the Tsuwano native, Mori Ogai. Ogai was born to a family of doctors and so he, too, studied medicine and eventually became the Surgeon General of the Army in the Japanese Army Medical Corps serving during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars. He is perhaps best known though for his writings. He enjoyed writing novels as well as poetry. The museum has some of his belongings and a lot of his writings. Outside the museum stands his actual former residence.

    Entrance is 600 yen.

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    NIshi Amane Former Residence

    by Rabbityama Written Oct 7, 2013

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    Nishi Amane Residence

    Nishi Amane was a philosopher who is said to have brought the words "philosophy", "subjectivity", and "reason" to Japan. He had a great interest in Western philosophy and introduced various concepts to Japan. He lived here for 21 years. The house is quite small. You can view it for free from the outside.

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    Hanko Yorokan

    by Rabbityama Written Sep 26, 2013

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    Hanko Yorokan
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    The Hanko Yorokan is a historic building that dates back to around the end of the Edo Period (mid-19th century). It was the university of the Tsuwano Clan. They taught the important subjects of the time, such as Confucianism, mathematics, military and medical science, etiquette, and martial arts among other things. Mori Ogai is one of the famous graduates of the school.

    Today, the building has been preserved and turned into a small museum. The museum contains historical artifacts such as old currency, samurai armor, and household tools. They are all from the area although I don't believe they necessarily have a connection to the former school.

    Entrance is 250 yen.

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    Kuwabara Shisei Photography Museum

    by Rabbityama Written Sep 14, 2013

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    Kuwabara Shisei Photography Museum

    Kuwabara Shisei is a professional photographer born here in Tsuwano. He gained fame with his photographs of the affects of Minamata disease in Minamata. At the time, science had not studied or been aware of the affects of dumping chemicals (in this case mercury) into the sea on the food chain, particularly how it could lead back to people. When the entire town began developing strange symptoms and studies were being conducted on the citizens, Shisei was there to document it through photography.

    Although he is known most for those works, he has had a rich life of photographic moments. He was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, in Russia in 1991 as the Soviet Union was collapsing, and spent a lot of time in Korea after the Korean War as the nation was still in turmoil. Exhibits of his photography from these events are on display at the museum. During my visit, the exhibits were from his Russia series. His photography was very interesting. It made me want to see his other photos.

    The museum is located to the right of Tsuwano Station. Entrance is 300 yen.

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    • Photography

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  • Visit one of the 5 Great Inari Shrines

    by Ben-Stephens Written May 17, 2008

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    Overlooking Tsuwano is an Inari Shrine, (the ones with all the red torii). It is neatly tucked away on a hill below the castle ruins and has an excellent atmosphere. Make sure you walk through the torii to the shrine and not up the other road by car.

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    Look out for the Koi

    by yumyum Written Nov 29, 2005

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    Koi

    Tsuwano is famous for its colourful koi. They can be found in the river under and around the bridge as well as in the waters running along some buildings next to the streets.

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Tsuwano Things to Do

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