Spatial structures of Japanese hidden Christian organizations on Hirado Island: A comparative study of three villages and Ikitsuki Island

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Northwestern Kyushu is the most notable region in Japan for its dense distribution of former Hidden Christians. The spatial structures of its religious organizations have been classified into several types. However, this classification procedure and the formation principles of such organizations need further examination. This article reexamines the spatial structures of these organizations and their formation principles from a social geographical perspective, focusing on three villages on Hirado Island and comparing them with Ikitsuki Island, Nagasaki Prefecture. We reveal the basic units and subunits that constitute one or two components of the organizations in the case study villages on Hirado as compared with the three components, including alliance units, found on Ikitsuki. Within the same region, different structural patterns were observed among the villages, each subject to their own geographical conditions, such as physical environment, settlement morphological pattern, and population size, as well as existing neighborhood relationships or kinships and the administrative units within and over the village.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-279
Number of pages25
JournalJapanese Journal of Religious Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies

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