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Yamaguchi as Christmas City


Kameyama Park  

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Yamaguchi as Christmas City


Yamaguchi City turning into a 'Christmas City' in December

Yamaguchi City


Yamaguchi Catholic Church Xavier Memorial Chapel


Yamaguchi City is believed to be where the country's first Christmas was celebrated. In December, the city calls itself Christmas City. Under the slogan of "Christmas in Japan started from Yamaguchi City," many festive events are held throughout the month.

About 470 years ago, Ouchi Yoshitaka, who governed the area around the time, accepted Saint Francis Xavier's request, which was the first Christian missionary activity to take place in Japan. The Nativity was celebrated in 1552 to become the first Christmas celebration recorded in the country.


View from Kameyama Park


The Yamaguchi Catholic Church was built in 1952 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Spanish missionary's arrival in Japan. After the fire in 1991, the church was rebuilt in 1998 with citizens’ donations. Its contemporary structure, resembling a large tent, has a museum on its ground floor with exhibits about Xavier’s life and the history of Christianity in Japan. When visiting the church, take the stairs that lead up to the hilltop Kameyama Park for a panoramic view of the city. 


Nakahara Chuya Memorial Museum


In December, the park is filled with bright Christmas lights; the gate decoration that recreates the church with countless lights towers up in the dark winter sky to welcome you. Visit Yamaguchi City during the holiday season and enjoy the festive scenery and the Christmas events held across the city.





How to get there


From Yamaguchi Ube Airport, take a bus to JR Shin-Yamaguchi Station (30 minutes), then transfer to a train or a bus bound for JR Yamaguchi Station (30 minutes). From there, it takes about 20 minutes on foot to the church.


4-1 Kameyama-cho, Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi-ken



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