Graces of Japan – Harvest Journeys

Graces of Japan

A unique journey through Japan during cherry blossom season as we draw strength from the saints and martyrs whose witness has shaped the faith of this fascinating country. Prepare for a blessed encounter with a land and people of mysterious and unspeakable beauty.

Highlights

Nagasaki (3) • Unzen • Kumamoto (3) • Amakusa • Hiroshima (2) • Kyoto (2) • Tokyo (3) • Kamakura • Akita (2) • Tokyo.

  • 16 Days / 15 Nights
  • Nagasaki to Tokyo
  • Daily Mass

Itinerary

Meal Code: (B) = Breakfast (L) = Lunch (D) = Dinner

DAY 1ARRIVE NAGASAKI

Nagasaki, commonly known as the ‘Rome of Japan’ is a busy and colourful city, steeped in history and Christian courage. Nagasaki was the second city in Japan to be devastated by an atomic bomb during World War II. Tonight join with your fellow pilgrims for our first group dinner.

Nagasaki overnight (D)

DAY 2NAGASAKI

Our memorable stay begins with an inspiring visit to Nishizaka Hill, the site of crucifixion of Japan’s first Christian martyrs in 1597. After being marched by foot in winter for a gruelling 30 days from Kyoto to Nagasaki, the 26 Christians hung on this hill of crosses breaking out in songs of praise while leaving a deep impression for Christian Japan. Here we will celebrate a touching Eucharist.

Also located on this hill is the 26 Martyrs Museum. We will enjoy a guided visit of the museum.

We continue on then to Oura Catholic Church – originally built by a French missionary priest to pray for those who were martyred on Nishizaka Hill. It was built facing the hill. It is a national treasure, and the oldest wooden church of Gothic architecture in Japan. We also make a special visit to the School of Divinity where St Maximilian Kolbe once worked. Here we can see the original copy of the magazine ‘Seibi No Kishi’ that he started producing only a month after his arrival in Nagasaki.

At the epicentre of the Atomic Bomb devastation of August 9, 1945 is Urakami Cathedral, Japan’s largest Catholic Cathedral. This flattened Cathedral was perfectly restored by 1959. Enjoy a visit here before returning to our hotel.

Nagasaki overnight (BD)

DAY 3NAGASAKI

Our day begins in Nagasaki with a visit to ‘Nyokodo’ – the ‘hut of brotherly love’. This little hut (2m x 2m) was built by Dr Nagai on the site where he found the charred skeleton of his wife, clutching the remains of her melted rosary beads. Nagai lived in this hut from 1946-51 bedridden with terminal radiation. This is where he wrote his 20 books on peace and love and later died. See also the Nagai Museum.

Continue on to the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Nagasaki overnight (BD)

Day 4 VIA UNZEN TO KUMAMOTO

Today we farewell the ‘Rome of Japan’ and travel east by coach to Unzen. Here we have the opportunity to visit the Hot Springs. Christians were martyred here during the depression of Jigoku in the 17th century.

We will take time to visit the monuments to the martyrs and celebrate Mass in the Unzen Catholic Church, uniquely situated in the Unzen National Park.

This afternoon we travel to Kumamoto, the town well known for its fresh water. The city of Kumamoto is the biggest in the world to have its water needs met entirely by natural underground springs, all from nearby Mt Aso.

Kumamoto overnight (BD)

Day 5 KUMAMOTO

Our day begins with Mass at the Martyrs Shrine.

We then enjoy a visit to the Tabaruzaka Memorial Park – the site of the battle of the last samurai. We take some time to wander here as our guided tour helps us to imagine what this battle looked like.

We continue on to Kumamoto Castle with its signature curved stone walls, known as mushagaeshi.

Travel out this afternoon to Yatsushiro where we will explore the Blessed Martyrs’ Memorial Park. Return to Kumamoto in time for dinner.

Kumamoto overnight (BD)

Day 6 AMAKUSA DAY TRIP

Christianity was introduced to Amakusa in the 1500s. Even during times of strict suppression, the Christians of Amakusa maintained their deep faith.

This morning we take the short trip to nearby Amakusa. Many Japanese Christians hid in Amakusa between the 17th-19th centuries when Christianity was oppressed. Even today Amakusa’s population is 30% Christian.

Our first stop is the Romanesque style Oe Tenshudo Church standing on top of a hill overlooking the sea. Here we will celebrate Mass. It was built in 1933 by the French priest Fr Garnier, who used his own funds to build it. At the foot of the hill leading up to the church, the Rosary Pavilion portrays the history of Christianity in Amakusa from its introduction to the revolt of Amakusa Shiro. We will take some time to reflect. Pilgrims may choose to pray a decade of the rosary here.

Another place of prayer which is treasured by local residents is the Sakitsu Tenshudo Church, Standing quietly in the peaceful fishing village of Kawaura Town. After our visit here we can take the opportunity to wander the port.

Onwards to the Hondo Martyrdom Park where originally stood Hondo Castle. Many tombs and monuments to the Christian martyrs can be found here.

Kumamoto overnight (BD)

Day 7 KUMAMOTO TO HIROSHIMA

After an early Mass this morning in Tetori Catholic Church we farewell Kumamoto, travelling north by coach through the Tsukushi Sanchi mountain range.

We come to Kitakyushu and visit the Monument to the Christian Martyrs.  

From here we travel east through the Chugoku region to Hiroshima, globally famous for the tragic fact that it became the first city in history to be destroyed by an atomic bomb.

On arrival we will proceed to our hotel for check-in.

Hiroshima overnight (BD)

Day 8 HIROSHIMA

This morning we will visit the Atomic Bomb Dome – a historical witness conveying the disaster of the first atomic bombing in history. Across the river we come to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Continue on to the striking Hiroshima Castle, rebuilt after the atomic bombing of 6 August, 1945.

This afternoon we board our coach to be transferred to the Hiroshima World Peace Memorial Cathedral. We will celebrate a memorable Mass here. In 1981, Bl. Pope John Paul II visited Hiroshima and appealed to the world “To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future. To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war.”

Remainder of the day at leisure.

Hiroshima overnight (BD)

Day 9 HIROSHIMA TO KYOTO

This morning we depart Hiroshima, travelling by bullet train through scenic countryside to Kyoto, the sacred city. On arrival we will board our coach and be transferred to Miyazu Catholic Church, Japan’s second oldest Catholic church, for a visit and Mass.

After checking in at our centrally located hotel the remainder of the day is at leisure.

Kyoto overnight (BD)

Day 10KYOTO

Surrounded by beautiful hills, Kyoto is a city embodying the key qualities of Japanese culture and tradition. Japan’s previous capital from 794 to 1868, it has more than 2000 temples and shrines, a trio of palaces, dozens of gardens and is the centre of traditional industries providing excellent shopping opportunities. St Francis Xavier, who introduced Christianity to Japan in the 16th century, came here in his travels but due to dissensions rending the country he was unable to make any progress in spreading the good news.

This morning we will visit and celebrate Mass in the Kawaramachi Catholic Cathedral. After Mass we continue our touring, including the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), its top two stories covered in gold leaf and containing relics of the Buddha. See also the Heian Shrine – brightly coloured and with its enchanting inner gardens and ponds, reflects the elegance of life in the ancient Japanese court. Onwards to the Sanjusangendo Hall, a renowned long wooden hall housing all of 1,001 statues of Kannon, Bodhisattva, that date back to the 13th century.

After lunch we enjoy a visit to the Kiyomizu Temple. Enjoy a sweeping view of the entire city of Kyoto from its lofty terrace. Afterwards, some free time to wander the quaint old lane lined with pottery shops leading from this famous temple.

Kyoto overnight (BD)

Day 11KYOTO TO TOKYO

Today we depart the Sacred City and travel by bullet train to the modern city of Tokyo. On arrival we will board our coach and proceed to our hotel for check-in.

Remainder of the day at leisure.

Tokyo overnight (BD)

Day 12TOKYO

After a leisurely start this morning our touring commences with a guided visit and the celebration of Holy Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral, rebuilt from 1960-64 after being completely destroyed during World War II. After Mass we continue on to the Ota Memorial Museum of Art. This afternoon we come to the Tokyo Sky Tree, boasting a height of 634 metres, one of the tallest of its kind. Enjoy some free time later this afternoon in nearby Asakusa – the district of Tokyo’s old town, steeped in nostalgia of the Edo period.

Tokyo overnight (BD)

Day 13KAMAKURA

Today we have the opportunity to travel out to Kamakura, known as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan due to its large number of shrines and temples and located in Sagami Bay south of Tokyo. On arrival we will visit the Yukinoshita Parish Church which contains paintings of the martyrs. We can take some time to read the story of the martyrs here near the baptismal font inside the church before celebrating our group Mass.

During our time here we will also see the Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu) is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 13.35 metres, it is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan.

While in Kamakura we may even be fortunate enough to participate in a Japanese tea ceremony!

We return to Tokyo for our final night here.

Tokyo overnight (BD)

Day 14TOKYO TO AKITA

This morning we will be transferred to the Takanawa Catholic Church, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. We will celebrate our group Mass here and visit the nearby monument to the Edo Christian Martyrs.

This afternoon we travel by bullet train to Akita, situated on the Sea of Japan.

Akita overnight (BD)

Day 15AKITA PILGRIMAGE

Today will be a highlight of our pilgrimage as we visit the little convent and church of Our Lady of Akita. Here a local sister has reported visitations of the Blessed Virgin Mary supported by the phenomena of a statue of Mary in the church which has wept tears.  After a special group Mass here we can take some time to wander the shrine and perhaps pray a decade of the Rosary.

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before enjoying a special Japanese meal to celebrate our last night on pilgrimage.

Akita overnight (BD)

Day 16AKITA TO TOKYO, DEPART JAPAN

Today we depart Akita and travel by bullet train back to Tokyo Airport for our homebound flights.

(B)

 All tour inclusions and order of daily arrangements remain subject to change due to any unforeseen circumstances, which may arise, or at the discretion of the tour leadership.

Dates & Prices

TOUR DETAILS
Tour Code GJ2501
Starts Nagasaki, 5 May 2025
Finishes Tokyo, 20 May 2025
Land Tour Cost AUD $TBA*
Single Room AUD $TBA Supplement
Prepaid Tips $15 PP additional per day
EXPRESSION OF INTEREST

*Per person, twin share 
**Per person, per day

Costs are indicative and must remain subject to possible change in the event of significant exchange rate variations, tax & hotel changes or minimum group size factors beyond Harvest’s control. Refer to Harvest Terms & Conditions.

Included

  • ACCOMODATION & MEALS: Based on Superior Standard / 4-Star accommodation • Meals as specified in Itinerary
  • TOURING & TRANSPORTATION: Deluxe Air Conditioned Coach • Professional Pilgrimage Escort / Local Guides • Sightseeing and Entrance Fees
  • OTHER: Fully Escorted by Pilgrimage Chaplain • Porterage at hotels (where available) • Harvest Backpack, Pilgrims Journal and Travel Wallet

Not Included

  • International Airfares
  • Other meals not listed
  • Passport and Visa Costs (if applicable)
  • Items of a personal nature including phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc.
  • Travel insurance
  • Prepaid Tipping

Expressions of Interest


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