Seitai Hoshikai in Japanese means the Institute of the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist. It is a community of nuns living a life of dedication in a convent near Akita City, possibly one of the most peaceful cities on earth. It is located in a semi-rural area with rice fields and forests eight kilometers north east from Akita City/JR Akita Railway Station, on Highway Route 15. On the way you may pass the Akita Hot Springs, and it is before Mount Otaki.
You don’t have to be Catholic or Japanese to visit this place, and while the nuns here do not speak much English, the language of peace and contemplation is universal. There are a number of gardens and spots for prayer and meditation in the grounds, such as the Garden of the Lamb. There is a mix of Japanese and European influences in the gardens and chapels. One of the more tranquil spots is the Japanese Garden, with trees donated from various parts of Japan. Many volunteers worked on this garden which is a labor of love. Visitors should note that this is more like a convent than a church. There is mass at 0730, but that is not open to the public.
Many people come here on a pilgrimage, to see the statue of Mary, also called Our Lady of Akita. It was carved in 1963 by Mr Saburo Wakasa, a local sculptor. From 1975 to 1981, it shed tears over a hundred times, with more than two thousand witnesses. One of the nuns, Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, was cured of her deafness during a mass in 1982.
As this is a place of contemplation, there is not much in the way of eating places near Seitai Hoshikai. You can also buy some takeaway food and drink from the shops at Akita Station.
The Chapel is open from 9:00am to 11:30am, and again after lunch from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm.