Pilgrimage to Nagasaki, Day 8, Maundy Thursday

The weather looked bad when I woke up, and it only got worse throughout the day.  Announcements over the local loudspeakers reiterated that all the ferries in and out were cancelled. I even heard that the ferry I had taken the previous day had broken down. I don’t plan on leaving here till Saturday, but I didn’t have a choice, in any case, to leave today. I took the bus from Aoka to the Arikawa Ferry Terminal and then another bus, all by myself, through the mountains and across a bridge to Kashiragashima Island and the World Heritage Church there.  I had made a reservation the previous day to visit.  I could only stay inside the church for 30 minutes. There were three hours between buses. I had to find things to do for another 2 and a half hours. The only shop in the area was closed. Even the vending machine was closed.

 I spent the time before my appointment watching the sea and the rain and the wind, looking at the church and the cemetery, while contemplating those parishioners who had built this church, who lived and died there without the convenience of a bridge or daily ferries that only sometimes broke down or were incapacitated due to weather.  I was most impressed when I spent the first 30 minutes at the beach, watching the wind blow waves across the water. I imagined people there 100 years ago, with only the church, or before that, just their community, to help sustain them on this isolated island they had chosen to live to keep their faith.   As my time approached, I made my way to the church – as there was no guidance for those hardy souls who took the bus, I ended up asking the only person not working for the World Hertiage Site for help.  I spent my 30 minutes doing the Way of the Cross and thinking some more.  The weather was even worse afterwards so I spent the time in the official visitors center watching every video I could and also reading a whole photo book cover to cover on the Christian related world heritage sites in Kyushu. When I finally felt I needed to move on I shifted to the nearby Furiai Center, an old house that was now managed by the city. I chatted a bit with the staff member who had initially guided me to the information center. I took a picture of the home altar and went through the books Finding the hymnal from John Paul II Nagasaki mass I once again thought about the parishioners here. I still have memories of seeing John Paul II’s mass at Candlestick Park as a child. and I came out to Nagasaki to see Pope Francis mass, as well. What were they thinking and feeling in 1981 as they took a ferry to Nagasaki to see the Pope that had come to see them?

As the weather worsened, I took one more walk down towards the sea. I came back and waited for the bus driver to come back so I could get out of the rain and onto the bus, just to discover right as the bus was to leave that the bus driver was onboard the whole time with doors closed! I came back to Arikawa. I chatted a bit with the person in the pilgrimage center at the ferry terminal, took a few photos of the hotel that had closed down where the crew of the Tora-san movie that was filmed here stayed, chatted with an unenthusiastic staff member about whether or not renting a small electric car was feasible for my plans, had some local udon at the same tourist complex, and finally went to a local coffee shop that was also closing down for good in a few days. Even as the rain fell and I had abandoned my umbrella the rain that the wind had snapped into two I tried to find the street where Tora had been those many years ago but all the shops around him in the film were gone, so it was difficult to determine exactly where he had been, in the end.  I arrived at my bus stop a bit before it arrived and discovered that the bakery I had planned on visiting since I saw it on my morning bus closed an hour before.

Getting back to Aoka, I bought a bento from a local shop rather than go back to the restaurant I had been to the previous day, got lunch for Friday at the supermarket, and went back to my hotel to freshen up for Maudy Thursday mass at Aoka Church. The church wasn’t full, but it was noticeable that the men mostly sat on the left while woman mostly wearing chapel veils on the right.  The priest’s homily for Maundy Thursday, about the last supper being the first mass and the reason for going to mass every week was God’s love for us, was fairly easy understandable for me, which is always a plus when I go to a Japanese language mass.  I had dinner back at the hotel, hoping the weather would be a bit nicer on Good Friday.