Japan: discover eight chapels between Taketa Christian catacombs, also known as Little Kyoto, is located in central Kyushu Oita Prefecture, surrounded by a mountain range and river Ono. An area of outstanding natural beauty that includes the most famous hot springs in Japan. In the days of the early missionaries, the town became one of the centers with greater presence of Christians in Japan. 1/11/14 2:49 PM | Print | Email (Zenit / InfoCatólica) But that all changed with the start of religious persecution in the country. Many people were forced to embrace Buddhism and others, think that half hid. The woods surrounding the city soon became hiding places where the faithful could practice their faith in secret. Christians were carving in small mountain caves where you can meet and pray. Today, these artificial rock-cut shrines can be visited. The man who discovered three years ago these true open-pit catacombs as reported in today’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano-called Goto Atsusi. Their ancestors were hidden Christians. To date, eight have been discovered, and it is believed that there is at least one hundred. It is thanks to the formation of the volcanic rocks of Taketa, very strong, so that after four centuries can appreciate these artificial caves in the woods, used by Christians to live their faith when everything around threatening survival. Of the twenty-five thousand inhabitants in just three hundred Taketa today are Christians, and Catholics can count on one hand. Those few faithful are forced to go by train or bus to Oita, a journey of more than an hour from the mountains, to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist in the Catholic church that is unique in the area. St. Francis Xavier arrived in Japan in 1549 and began preaching Christ in the land of the rising sun. After 60 years, the Shogun, the military leader of Japan triggered a persecution of the early Church, persecution rivaled in fury with the Emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century. Women and children were detained in the turmoil. Their stories reminiscent of Perpetua and Felicity, and St. Agnes. The stories of the Japanese martyrs refer to a period of 400 years. But reading their stories we seem remitiéramos still further back, to the Acts of the Martyrs of the Early Church. After initial flowering of Christianity there were terrible persecutions. Many were killed with unprecedented cruelty not stopped at women and children. Rather than murder, the Catholic community was decimated by those who abjured by fear. However, it was not destroyed. A party went underground and kept the faith alive by transmission from parents to children for two centuries, despite not having bishops and priests and sacraments. It is said that the holy Friday 1865 ten thousand of these "kakure kirisitan" hidden Christians, out of the villages and surprised the missionaries who had shortly before succeeded reenter Japan occurred in Nagasaki. Like three centuries before, in the early years of the twentieth century Nagasaki again the city with strong Catholic presence in Japan. On the eve of World War II, two out of three Japanese Catholics living in Nagasaki. But in 1945 they suffered a new and terrible destruction. This time not by persecution, but by the atomic bomb that was dropped just their city. Today, the Japanese Catholics are little more than half a million worshipers. A small portion, when compared with a population of 126 million. But respected and influential, thanks to a dense network of schools and universities. And if the Japanese born immigrants from other Asian countries are added, the number of Catholics is doubled over a million.