On Saturday, May 7, 2022, US Navy Chaplain Robert Hecox led a group of a dozen YCAPS members on a tour of cultural and religious sites in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture. Much of the tour focused on the historical struggles of “Hidden Christians” (Kakure Kirishitan), or Japanese Christian converts who, during the Edo period, practiced their religion in secret during a more than two-century nationwide ban on Christianity (1614-1873).
Christian sites visited by YCAPS members on the tour included:
- St Francis Xavier Memorial Church (named after the Catholic missionary who began baptizing people in Hirado in 1550)
- Hirado Christian Museum
- Shimano Yakata Museum (which has a Hidden Christians exhibit)
- The martyr site of Gaspar-sama
- Kakure Kirishitan Church
The YCAPS tour of Hirado also included stops at several Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, such as Hachiman Shrine and the iconic Ikitsuki Kannon-do Temple. Chaplain Hecox provided insightful commentary on the historical background and unique characteristics of each of the sites visited.