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Journal of my trip to Akita

The day I was inspired by " Our Lady of Akita"


Hello. I'm a writer known as Niu who loves touring shrines, temples, and historical sites. Currently, I'm on my second round of traveling to all 47 prefectures in Japan.
Have you ever heard of "Our Lady of Akita"?
During a recent visit to this place where miracle occurred from half a century ago, I learned about the importance of taking steps forward. I would be delighted if you could stay with me for a moment.

The "Holy Eucharist" where “Our Lady of Akita” is enshrined.

The trigger was a midday news program

The other day, I happened to see a report on a midday news showing that the "Roman Curia has established an organization to investigate the phenomena of Virgin Mary appearances being reported around the world.

The phenomena of the Virgin Mary’s appearance worldwide include suspected falsehoods, and there have even been criminal frauds. It seems that the organization has a purpose of distinguishing the genuine from the false.

This was a miraculous phenomenon that once occurred in the Tohoku region. Of course, I thought it would be mentioned in this program too. However, there was no mention of "Our Lady of Akita", not even a single word, by the commentators, let alone any video footage.


"Our Lady of Akita" refers to a statue of the Virgin Mary at a convent on the outskirts of Akita City, where miraculous phenomena occurred.
It is a wooden statue about one meter tall, and about 50 years ago, from 1973 onward, it is said that sweat and tears flowed from the statue on several occasions. The miracle didn't just happen to the statue of Mary, but also to the nun working in that convent.

Some of you may have read about the "Weeping Statue of Mary" in books for elementary and junior high school students. Just recently, I had read an article by morning on "Marcion's Box" about a "weeping statue of Christ," which made me want to see the real "Our Lady of Akita"! So, I took a trip to Akita Prefecture.

▼Here is morning's article:
"The Weeping 'Miracle Christ Statue' in Wieskirche Church, Germany."

I wondered if it was okay for someone like me to visit...

"Our Lady of Akita" is enshrined in a convent of the "Holy Eucharist."

【Holy Eucharist information (as of May in Reiwa 5 (2023)】
Address: 1 Yuzawa-dai, Soegawa, Akita City, Akita Prefecture
Established: 1970 (Showa 45)
The current church was completed in May 2002
Visiting hours: 9:30-11:30, 13:00-16:00 (Closed on Wednesdays)
Praying in the garden is possible every day from 9:00 to 17:00
Admission fee: Free

I traveled to the Holy Eucharist by Shinkansen and bus.

As I was heading to the terminal station “Akita”, after changing from the Tohoku Shinkansen to the Akita Shinkansen, to be honest, I felt a little, no, quite anxious, wondering if it was okay for someone like me to go to a convent.
The only Christian building I have visited is the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki Prefecture. The most I have ever attended a friend's wedding was at a hotel chapel.
How do I worship?
Is there a formal etiquette like at a shrine?
Do I even have the right to enter the building even though I only think of Christ when I eat Christmas cake?

As I was thinking about these things over and over, I got motion sickness.By the way, this Akita Shinkansen.
From a station called Omagari, one stop before Akita, to the terminal station Akita, the direction of travel is reversed.
The Shinkansen runs for about 30 minutes while you are sitting backward.
If you are prone to motion sickness, you need to take precautions!
The recommended remedy for motion sickness is cola.
Carbonated drinks can help alleviate discomfort in the stomach and intestines, and caffeine can help regulate sensory disturbances, so I highly recommend trying it.

At Akita Station, there are objects such as Namahage and Akita dog statues on display, which inevitably stir up a sense of nostalgia and remind you that "Ah, I've really come to Akita." Since I heard that the church of the Holy Eucharist (where the statue of Mary is enshrined) opens at 9:30 in the morning, I decided to pay a visit first thing the next morning, and made the first day just for travel.

At the hotel, I couldn't easily fall asleep, wondering, "Can I really go theretomorrow...?"
The next morning, I left my luggage in a coin locker at the station and got on the bus feeling light and unencumbered. The bus departed from the terminal at the west exit of Akita Station.

When you exit from the west exit of Akita Station, the bus terminal is right in front of you.
When you exit from the west exit of Akita Station,
the bus terminal is right in front of you.

The bus accepts IC cards. I was able to use my Suica.
I had broken some cash just in case, but it turned out I didn't need it.
There was a bus every 30 minutes to the nearest bus stop for Holy Eucharist.
If you take the bus that leaves Akita Station at 8:45, it arrives at the nearest bus stop around 9:05 and arrives at the Holy Eucharist around 9:15. This allows you to worship first thing in the morning.

When I got off the bus, I saw a peaceful Japanese scenery with rice fields, fields and hills, which could be found anywhere.

The closest bus stop and the peaceful scenery.
The closest bus stop and the peaceful scenery.

Following the sign that reads "The Holy Eucharist is this way," you'll find ordinary residential houses. A tractor was parked in the parking lot as if it was the most natural thing in this area.
The Western image that the word "convent" holds did not seem to match this scenery at all. I wondered, did the miracle of the Virgin Mary really happen in such a place?
At the entrance of the forest road, there was also a sign saying "Beware of bears," making me increasingly anxious about whether this is the right way.

The entrance to the forest road and the sign that makes your heart skip a beat
The entrance to the forest road and the sign that makes your heart skip a beat

Along the way, there were spots where spring water was gushing out, and some parts were wet underfoot. I was glad I wore my sneakers. Be careful as the ground can be slippery!

Be careful as the ground can be slippery!
Be careful as the ground can be slippery!

A convent blending into the Japanese landscape

After walking along the forest path surrounded by coniferous trees for about five minutes, suddenly, the view opened up.
The " Holy Eucharist" was located on a small hill at the foot of the mountain. You can see a building that looks like a temple at the back of the parking lot. As I came closer, I realized that it was the cathedral.

The entrance to the Holy Eucharist. There's a cross on the building
The entrance to the Holy Eucharist. There's a cross on the building

Before coming to Akita, I had seen pictures of the church on the internet, but it looked more Japanese-style than those https://marcion.xyz/wp-content/themes/marcion/images/.
It blended completely into the Japanese landscape.
Nowadays, there are temples in concrete buildings, so there's a kind of unique nostalgic feeling to a Japanese-style convent. According to a booklet created by the Holy Eucharist, the traditional Japanese temple architecture was used with the hope that "Catholicism will take root in the spiritual features of Japan". I felt that this is why it blends so well into the landscape.

Overwhelmed by the vast grassland

Since there was still time before the church opened, I decided to visit the garden first
The garden consists of "The Garden of Mary" and "The Garden of the Lamb".
In particular, the Garden of the Lamb is known as a photo spot where the entire vast garden is filled with catsear (a yellow flower similar to dandelion) in June.
First, I stepped into the Garden of the Lamb.
Unfortunately, when I went in May, it was not yet catsear season.
Even so, the moment I passed through the gate, which is like a temple's sanmon gate, I was overwhelmed by the vast grassland. Before I knew it, tears welled up in my eyes.

Sanmon gate in the Garden of the Lamb
Sanmon gate in the Garden of the Lamb

It's amazing that there is such an open space in the middle of the mountains!
The area seems to be about the size of a baseball field.
I don't know how the Holy Eucharist came to be built in this place, but perhaps someone spent a lot of time and effort to clear a little bit of the land that was originally a forest.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I was standing there stunned when a member of the convent slowly drove past me in a small red car.
It seemed to be a riding lawnmower.
They went back and forth over the grassland many times.
The smell of fresh-cut grass wafted gently on the wind.
Watching them mow the grass with careful, efficient movements, I was deeply moved by the thought that this person was living here in harmony with nature while believing in God.
Also, along the single path in the vast grassland, there were scattered objects depicting Christ and the Cross. Each figure was different, and it appeared to be a narrative of Christ's journey to Golgotha.

Objects scattered in the vast grassland
Objects scattered in the vast grassland

As I read the stories written beneath the sculptures, I was moved by Christ's trials and hardships, and then I moved on to the next object.
It was a relaxed and fulfilling time.
Even though I thought about Christ only during Christmas, I truly felt I made a good decision to come here.

The Warmth Felt from 'Our Lady of Akita

Upon entering the church well past the beginning of the visiting hours, I was greeted by a woman with a simple and honest demeanor.
I was allowed to visit freely without having to fill out any forms or go through any sort of reception process.
I had to remove my shoes at the entrance and borrow slippers.
The wooden floor was shiny.
There was a "No photography" sign at the entrance of the chapel...

"No photography" sign at the entrance of the chapel

From the entrance, there was a statue of Christ in the middle of the chapel, and a statue of St. Joseph, Christ's father, in the right corridor. And in the left corridor, "Our lady of Akita" was enshrined.

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside.

"Could I at least take pictures of the shop attached to the church?"
"I'm sorry, but all photography inside the chapel is prohibited..."

I tried to ask anyway, but they seemed troubled and apologized, which made me realize that I had said something inappropriate.
In addition, the shop attached to the church sold not only prayer books, but also goods and antique accessories of “Our Lady of Akita”, and I, as a tourist, could stop by easily.

The booklet and postcard I bought at the shop attached to the church
The booklet and postcard I bought at the shop attached to the church

The statue of Maria is about 1 meter tall.
It is a wooden statue with bright and glossy colors.
Bathed in the light coming through the window, she seemed to be softly smiling.
It's puzzling where such a petite Maria statue could hide the power to perform miracles. She isn't displayed in a glass case like in a jewelry store, nor is she separated by belt partitions like in a museum. Instead, she stands quite naturally with only a note saying "Please do not touch". You can get up close and look at Maria's face.
Perhaps this kind of interaction is possible because they trust us, the visitors.

At her feet, pots of carnations were displayed on both sides.
It is likely related to Mother's Day.

It is said that tears flowed from this statue of the Virgin Mary 101 times.
It is also said that blood oozed from the palm of its hand.
Standing in front of the wooden statue, it was impossible for me to believe that tears once flowed and blood came out of its hand.
However, I couldn't imagine that the people who worked at this convent at that time did something extraordinary either.
I couldn't picture the seniors of people like the person who carefully mowed the grass in the garden and the person who warmly welcomed tourists like me at the entrance of the chapel tampering with the statue of the Virgin Mary.

Moreover, I was simply thinking, "It's amazing that a miraculous phenomenon happened," but when it was covered by the media, there were not only positive reactions, but also critical views and unwarranted slander.

If I were in such a situation, I might ban entry to the convent.
At least, I don't think I would leave “Our Lady of Akita” in a situation where anyone could see it. If I had the chance to speak with someone from the convent, I had been considering asking about the 'establishment of an investigation organization for the phenomena of Virgin Mary appearances by the Roman Curia, as reported recently.
This is because, although the miracle phenomenon of “Our Lady of Akita' was approved by the bishop and accepted by the Roman Curia, it has been then treated as unconfirmed due to the lack of an official statement from the Roman Curia.
However, I felt a little embarrassed to ask such a thing to those who were carrying out their religious activities calmly without caring too much about any miracle phenomenon at all, so I just expressed my gratitude and left the place.

A statue of Mary with a Smiling Face in the Garden

Finally, I visited the other one of the two gardens, the 'Maria Garden.'

Entrance of the “Maria Garden”
Entrance of the “Maria Garden”

As you can imagine from the photo of the mountain gate, it's a purely Japanese-style garden.
I was told that trees dedicated from various places have been planted, just like at shrines and temples.
And in the atmosphere where stone monuments would be placed if it were a shrine or temple, a stone statue of Virgin Mary was enshrined. 'Our Lady of Akita' in the cathedral seemed to be quietly smiling, but this stone statue of Lady Mary, perhaps due to the light of the sun, appeared to be cheerfully smiling.

The statue of the Virgin Mary in the garden
The statue of the Virgin Mary in the garden

Just like when I visited a temple, I brought my hands together and prayed without clapping them, and bowed at the gate like at a shrine's torii gate before leaving.
I prayed in a way that I could because I felt like Mary was telling me in a motherly tone that it’s okay to be less concerned about the details of the etiquette if you have a prayerful heart.
Then I left the monastery with a warm and fulfilled feeling mixed with the loneliness of the end of the journey.


When I visited, perhaps because it was just after a long holiday, there were only a couple from abroad besides me.
They also came by bus, and they asked me in English to tell them the time for the return bus. I barely understood what they were saying, but I didn't know how to respond.
Now that I think about it, I should have used the translation tool on the internet, but instead, I replied in broken English, 'Juuji sanjuppun(It is ten thirty),' pointing at the bus timetable I had taken a picture of on my phone. They said 'Okay, okay,' so I thought they probably understood.

Some people suggest the hypothesis that the 'Miracle of the “Our Lady of Akita”' occurred because of the severe Christian persecutions that once took place in Akita.
I don't reject it to that extent, but I inevitably hesitate when I hear 'church' or 'convent,' thinking 'I don't really understand it,' or 'I wonder if it's okay for me, a non-religious person, to go there.'
I wonder if there are other people who also have such anxieties.
In fact, more than 80% of the visitors to this ' Holy Eucharist ' are not Japanese, but from overseas, like the people I met this time.

However, this time, I went all the way to Akita without any hesitation, met 'Our Lady of Akita' in the cathedral, and saw the earnestness of the staff in the convent. It was an experience I couldn't have had if I had simply run away saying 'I don't understand and it makes me feel anxious.' The motherly kindness and generosity that filled the entire convent is something I think you wouldn't understand unless you went there yourself.

It takes courage to do something you've never done before, but whether it goes well or not, it becomes a part of the richness of your life and your own treasure, and by sharing it with others, it may be of help to them.

After all, it's not supposed to go smoothly from the start, so even if you feel really anxious and your mouth is twitching, it might be surprisingly easier to take a step outside of your comfort zone rather than continue running away. Thank you for being with me until the end.
I hope this article can be a catalyst for you to take a step forward, saying things like, 'I've also been curious about "Our Lady of Akita." Maybe I'll go there on my next long weekend' or 'Come to think of it, maybe I'll give that a try...' I would be happy if it could serve as a trigger for you to take a step forward.

Thank you for reading!
Thank you for reading!

・Small Chapel of Our Lady of Akita, Akita (Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist) ・Reprint of 'The Message of the Utmost Beautiful Voice' (Catholic Graph Special Journalist Team) ・'Our Lady of Akita and the Unknown History of Martyrdom' (Mieko Tabata) ・Holy Eucharist homepage (https://seitaihoshikai.com/