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His face weathered from years at sea, kimono-clad fisherman Masaichi Kawasaki kneels before an altar adorned with images of the Virgin Mary, crossing himself as he softly intones chants handed down through centuries.

Kawasaki, 69, is one of a dwindling number of Japan’s “Kakure Kirishitan,” or “Hidden Christians,” descendants of those who preserved their faith in secret during centuries of persecution.

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