By Fr Joe Duffy
TAKE me back again to Kyushu. Please.
Kyushu is the southern most main island of the Japanese archipelago.
The island is called “the land of fire and water”.
It is remote, dramatic, off the beaten tourist track, different and welcoming.
Thank you, Japan Holidays’ Tony Luxton.
You got us to Kyushu just as the cherry trees were blossoming.
So pretty pink! Could the magical shades of autumn, and all those beautiful bonsai tree trunks and branches, look even more sensational?
Where possible, Tony arranges stays in ryokans, traditional Japanese resorts.
They look like hotels on the outside, but once inside, surprise.
Kyushu is a mecca for foodies.
Sit down to 12-and-more-course banquets, artistically presented, sensational flavours.
These are inclusive in the itinerary and, magically, you may not even put on weight.
Dressed in their regal-looking kimono robes, the parishioners sitting down to the banquets looked like nobility. I was impressed.
Before dinner I had happened to luxuriate in the hotel’s hot communal spa baths.
I lowered myself languidly into the warm, soothing mineral waters harvested from a nearby underground natural spring. Buon Appetit.
About the “Hidden Christians”?
St Francis Xavier converted the Kyushians, thousands of them, to the Catholic faith.
Later, violent persecutions drove the faithful underground for nearly 350 years.
Are there any “Hidden Christians” yet to be found in Kyushu? Please let me know if you happen to meet one!
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan, this is the tour for you.
Fr Joe Duffy was tour leader on the 2014 Kumamoto Cherry Blossom and Last Samurai Tour from March 22 to April 1.