We want to build the Memorial Museum for Sidotti who landed on Yakushima !

We want to build the Memorial Museum for Sidotti who landed on Yakushima !

The names of those who have supported us will be displayed in the museum with their permission.

A Tale of Yakushima

That day, the phone rang.
It rang like a bell, as if announcing a new beginning.

Yakushima is well-known as a World Natural Heritage site where we carry out our activities. People from all over the world visit year-round to witness the ancient Yakusugi, Yakushima cedar trees,
some of which have stood for thousands of years. Those who set foot on this island are undoubtedly moved by its breathtaking natural beauty.

However, beneath the nurturing ground of this pristine nature lies a profound human story.

Over 300 years ago, a man named Tobei, a simple islander, encountered a samurai-like foreigner dressed as a samurai. He appeared suddenly on a cliff along the coast. This foreigner, Father Sidotti, arrived on Yakushima during Japan's isolation Edo period, as the sole missionary seeking permission from the Shogun, ready to face death for his cause.

Soon after, the captured Father Sidotti met Arai Hakuseki, Shogun's advisor and the "Seiyō Kibun" (Records of the Western World) was written.

Yes, there is a story on Yakushima that many people are unaware of.

Then, in the summer of 2014, a phone call came. It announced the discovery of three sets of remains at the site of the former Christian residence in Tokyo.

Each twist of fate seemed to lead us towards something greater, as the story continued to unfold.

(The cove where Father Sidotti landed)

"I want you to write.''

Inheriting the thoughts of a priest

Tomoko Furui, a non-fiction writer who has been active internationally, received the torch from a single priest who said, "I want you to write about it." She arrived on Yakushima as a part of a research journey, and in January 1994, she relocated with her family, captivated by the nostalgic and charming rural landscape of the island, which was yet to be recognized as a World Heritage site.

(Tomoko Furui and family at the time of moving to Yakushima)

Her home was a place called "Koidomari," an endearing name. One day, while walking near the shore, she met a priest from Italy who was cutting grass in a Yukata, casual cotton kimono. This man was Father Contarini.

Father Contarini had been a dedicated researcher pursuing the figure known as "Father Sidotti" for many years. After years of passionate research and about 30 years of activity in Japan, he moved to Yakushima at the age of 60 and built the "Sidotti Memorial Church." The church, more like a salon, became a gathering place for photographers, editors, artists, and others who engaged in dialogue based on Father's extensive knowledge. Tomoko Furui was among them.

(Arch commemorating Father Contarini)

"One day, you should write about it," Father Contarini told Tomoko Furui. "You should write about Father Sidotti."

With limited time left, Father Contarini believed that someone needed to carry on his legacy and share the untold story of Father Sidotti.

“Now that I know, I have an obligation to tell people.”

Tomoko Furui accepted the mission and, in 2010, published "The Last Missionary, Sidotti."

Four years later, she received a phone call. It reported the discovery of remains believed to be those of Father Sidotti, along with the remains of a couple named Chōsuke and Haru, who had cared for him. Subsequent DNA testing confirmed that these remains date back exactly to 300 years.

We want to create a space that connects history, nature, and people – the "Yakushima Sidotti Memorial Museum."

These stories are but fragments, and the facts are unknown to many. However, history consists of living individuals, each with their own stories. There is certainly something to be learned from this.

With the goal of establishing the "Sidotti Memorial Museum" on Yakushima, Tomoko Furui and her team embarked on this project with enthusiasm. They aim to commemorate the footsteps of Sidotti in Yakushima, the place where an event of significant historical importance occurred, and to promote the value of this historical and cultural heritage to a wider audience.

Designed by William Brouwer, an architect residing in Yakushima, this warm space will provide a platform for learning and dialogue. It will foster interactions between residents and visitors, irrespective of age or nationality, just as Father Sidotti once dreamt.

(Photo of model of Sidoti Memorial Museum)

We want to create this space of exchange between foreigners and villagers as a meaningful story, highlighting modern issues such as "diversity" and "harmony," which align with the ideals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Furthermore, we aim to create a place where one can experience the charm of the Yakushima village, distinct from the typical tourist destinations.

(Scenery of a village rich in nature seen from the planned construction site of the Sidoti Memorial Museum)

The overall theme of this project is to create a space that "connects history, nature, and people." We want to build this space together with everyone who supports our "Yakushima Sidotti Memorial Museum" establishment project.

Let's weave this story together.

The charm of Yakushima extends beyond its natural beauty; it reaches deeper into history, allowing us to share even more profound emotions.

What Father Sidotti, Arai Hakuseki, and Father Contarini conveyed is only a part of it. Many individuals whose names have gone unmentioned have also contributed to this.

These may seem like mere dots at first glance, but if we connect them carefully, they form a magnificent "story."

We hope that you have become even slightly interested in our "Yakushima Sidotti Memorial Museum" establishment project and that you will join us as one of the characters in this story.

Above all, we would be delighted if you could help us spread this story.

Read the full narrative on Vibes.media
* More detailed project information is available here.

About the Project Initiating Organization
NPO Yakushima Mirai Kōbō (Yakushima Future Works)
Representative: Tomoko Furui (Non-fiction writer residing on Yakushima)
Our predecessor NPO has been dedicated to building a sustainable society on Yakushima, a World Natural Heritage site, for over 20 years. Tomoko Furui has engaged in projects such as CO2-free promotion, environmental education, and uncovering the island's history. In addition to researching the footsteps of Sidotti in Yakushima, we have been actively working towards fundraising for the establishment of the Memorial Museum through activities such as creating a website and hosting exhibitions, as well as seeking support and cooperation from both inside and outside the island. We continue to organize lectures and exchange events for those who come to Yakushima to visit Sidotti, sharing the island's history and culture.