Friday, October 16 Our pilgrimage begins as we board our flight to Nagasaki, Japan.
Saturday, October 17 We arrive in Nagasaki, the ‘Little Rome of Japan.’ Our Canterbury Tour Manager greets us at the arrival gate and escorts us to our hotel. Overnight Nagasaki
Sunday, October 18 Following breakfast, we’re off to visit the Monument and Museum of the Twenty Six Martyrs. We learn the incredible story of these twenty-six saints, including that of St. Paul Miki, who preached forgiveness while hanging on his cross. Here we are also privileged to see original letters written by St Francis Xavier. Our day continues with a visit to St. Philip’s Church and Mass at St. Maximilian Kolbe’s Hongochi Church. We pray the rosary walk at the Lourdes Grotto, which was built by St. Maximillian Kolbe in the 1930’s. We visit St. Kolbe Memorial Museum, Ōura Cathedral, and St. Maximilian’s first residence in Nagasaki. Overnight Nagasaki
Monday, October 19 Following breakfast, we will motor coach to Hirado to visit St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church and Tabira Church, parts of which were built by seashells, crushed and turned into stone by the parishioner’s own hands. We learn here of how, in 1873, the ban on Christianity was lifted and Christians, who had been in hiding for over two centuries, came out of hiding with a still strong faith and built up many churches, Tabira being one of them. In the afternoon, a stop at the Mt. Inasa overlook of Nagasaki allows us 360 degree views of the thriving port city and the Sea of Japan. Return to hotel and dinner. Overnight Nagasaki
Tuesday, October 20 Today, we will visit Unzen Hot Springs martyrdom site. We are inspired by the tremendous sacrifice of the 33 Christians who stood strong against persecution here, preferring torture in the boiling ‘Hells’ of the hot springs rather than giving up their faith. We continue to Shimabara for Mass at Shimabara Catholic Church. Nearby, we visit the site of the Shimabara Rebellion and Hara Castle where, in 1637, local Christian farmers were fed up with the maladministration and persecution they were experiencing and gathered in revolt fighting bravely against the Shogunate army. Overnight Nagasaki
Wednesday, October 21 This morning we take a Ferry to Goto Island. Here we visit the Dozaki Catholic Church, the first church built in the Islands after the ban on Christianity was lifted. We continue our journey by boat to The Christian’s Cave on Wakamatsu Island, once used by Christians as a hiding spot to evade persecution. If time permits, we visit Imochiura Church, where we find the first Lourdes Grotto in Japan, Memorial Church, and the Monument to Martyrdom at the Site of Ryoyonasako Jail, once a site of Christian Persecution. Overnight Nagasaki
Thursday, October 22 Today, we will visit Nyoko-do and the Dr. Takashi Memorial Museum. Dr. Takashi was a Catholic Radiologist, author, and survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bombing. His subsequent life of prayer, service, and courage in the face of adversity earned him the affectionate title “Saint of Urakami.” We continue to the Urakami Cathedral, the Nagasaki Hypocenter Park and Atomic Bomb museum. This afternoon, we will take the Kamome Express train to Fukuoka Station and board the Bullet Train to Hiroshima. Overnight Hiroshima
Friday, October 23 We start our day with Mass at Assumption of Mary Cathedral, also called the Memorial Cathedral of World Peace. From there we visit Peace Memorial Park where we commemorate the direct and indirect victims of the atomic bomb. We spend time at the A-Bomb Museum and the A-Bomb Dome, a building exactly below the detonation site of the atomic bomb. Remarkably, the building wasn’t entirely destroyed and stands today as a visual reminder of what happened. Our last stop is Hiroshima Castle which now serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s history before World War II. Tonight, we Bullet Train to Kyoto. Dinner and hotel check-in. Overnight Kyoto.
Saturday, October 24 Following breakfast, we will go to the Kawaramachi Church, which commemorates the 52 Kyoto Martyrs, and have Mass in the Our Lady of Miyako Chapel. We continue on to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove’s ‘Bamboo Alley’ where the bamboo stands 165 feet tall and is visually endless. We get the feeling that we have been transported to another world. Our last stop is a UNESCO world heritage site built in the early 17th century and still in remarkable condition today, Nijo Castle. Overnight Kyoto.
Sunday, October 25 After breakfast we take the Bullet Train to Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station. If the day is clear, we will have a beautiful view of Mount Fuji from our train as we pass by. This majestic volcano and well-known symbol of Japan sits at a remarkable 12,388 feet above sea level. Upon arrival in Tokyo, we celebrate Mass at the Takanawa Catholic Church which commemorates the Great Martyrdom of Tokyo. The remainder of the afternoon is spent at our own leisure. Our tour manager will provide us with recommendations on sites to visit, as well as cafes and restaurants to dine at. Overnight Tokyo
Monday, October 26 Today we board the bullet train for Akita. Upon arrival, we will visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Akita Seitai Hoshikai Catholic Convent Church to have Mass and prayer in the presence of the miraculous statue there. The statue was created as ‘Our Lady of all Nations’ and from 1975 until the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, 1981, one could find the statue to shed tears- sometimes for days at a time and sometimes for various intervals. Overnight Akita
Tuesday, October 27 This morning we return to Seitai Hoshikai for Mass and have a ceremony of consecration and enrollment in the Miraculous Medal. We gather to pray the Outdoor Stations and have a Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction. After lunch, we may choose to stay at the church for an afternoon of reflection or to spend time exploring Kakunodate, the Samurai District, and the Aoyagi Samurai Manor. Overnight Akita
Wednesday, October 28 Today we gather at Seitai Hoshikai for a final Mass of thanksgiving. Filled with an invigorated love of our Catholic faith and memories to last a lifetime, we transfer to the Akita airport for our flight home.