Japanese people and Christianity ~From 16th A.C. to today~

日本の歴史(れきし): Japanese history

Hello, this is MIKA!

November has already started, and how are you today?

Then, after Halloween, Japanese department stores and towns are decorated for Christmas.

Cake stores, super markets, and convenient stores has started to accept a reservation of a Christmas cake.

However, unfortunately, most Japanese people don’t know the trury meaning of Christmas…

The main charactor of Christmas is Santa Claus in Japan, please forgive them.

By the way, when Christianity came to Japan?

And, how was the history of that in Japan?

It’s the theme of this article!

The introduction of Christianity

The person who introducted Christianity to Japan was Francisco de Xavier; one of the missionaries of the society of jesus, and he came to Kagoshima prefecture in present days in 1549.

He and other missionaries of the society of jesus visited Japan via the long jurney to increace Christian in Asia, because at that time in Europe, Religious war had been breaking out and Catholic was inferior in strength to Protestant.

Missionaries told warring lords in Kyusyu area in present days not only Christianity but also the way how to make a gun.

At that time, it was the warring states period in Japan, that’s why each area’s warring loads waged the wars many times to unify the whole of Japan.

And, when Christianity come to Japan, Nobunaga Oda, the influential person to unify whole of Japan, accepted Christianity because he opposed against Buddhists.

And he adopted not only Christianity but also Westurn cultures positively. Then, he developed the skill to make a gun uniquely and used it for a war as the first time.

The oppression to Christians

After Nobunaga Oda was killed, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of his subordinates unitied whole of Japan.

He built Osaka casstle and kept whole of Japan under his control.

At first, he regarded Nanban trade, Japanese tarade with Spain and Portugal(1543-1641) as important, that’s why he admitted Christianity.

However, because he feared a rebellion of Christians, he gave orders to banish them in 1587.

In 1603, the warring period had been finished, and the Edo era had started. The person who established Edo-shogunate government was Ieyasu Tokugawa.

At first, he regarded a propagation of Christianity, however, he gave orders to stop Christianity after 1610, and also he prohibited the visiting of Spanish trading ship.

Christians reacted against that, and Shiro Amakusa leaded them to rise in the Shimabara-Amakusa riot.

But they lost against the military of Edo-shogunate government. After that, the visiting of Portuguese trading ship was also prohibited.

Finally, Edo-shogunate government started “The policy of seclusion”; Japan hadn’t traded without China and Netherlands in Edo era.

Additionally, Edo-shogunate government found Christians by the allegiance test to execute them.

Under such the strict condition, there were some Christians who made theirselves seem Buddhist to keep the faith in Kyusyu area. They are called “Un underground Christian”.

As the evidence that they kept the faith in Nagasaki and Amakusa area, some churchs like Ooura-tensyudou were registered as World cultural heritage in 2018.

The removing a ban on Christianity

In 1853, Matthew Perry came from US and orderd the opening diplomatic relations. Edo-shogunate government concluded “Convention of Kanagawa” and finished the period of “The policy of seclusion”.

And in 1868, Meiji era had been started by the new government, but the ban of Christianity hadn’t removed yet.

However, because of the criticism by Westurn countries which started a diplomacy with Japan, the ban of Christianity had removed and restarted a propagation by missionaries from 1873.

After that, Christmas and Wedding in a church with a father started to infiltrate society to the present.

Final comment

How was it?

We have the sad history like an oppression and an execution, however, there are around 1,000,000 Christians in Japan today.

And then, even if they are not Christians, most Japanese enjoy Christmas and a bride takes a white wedding dress to vow an eternal love.

It’s the favorite technique of Japanese people to accept it not as a religion but as one of the foreign cultures finally, and that technique has been continued from ancient era.

I’m happy if you understand it’s one of the good points of Japan.

Then, Merry Christmas everyone!