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Tema: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

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    Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    My commentary:

    The spread of Christianity to Japan was largely due to the efforts of the Spanish and the Portuguese and what the article doesn't mention is that it was Catholcism that the Japanese largely practiced, which the syncretized with their own native practices (i.e. coming to venerate the Virgin rather than the virginal Buddhist deity Kannon). Prior to the Seclusion of Japan in the 17th century by the Tokugawa Shogunate there was about a half-million Christians in Japan, mostly Catholic but with some Dutch-derived Protestants as well. Oda Nobunaga allowed the spread of Christianity not so much out of piety but as a way to undermine the powerful Buddhist and Shinto temple complexes that were contributing to the civil unrest in Japan at the time. That Oda also gained access to European firearms isn't in doubt; he was the first warlord to organize his forces along European lines, complete with musket and cannon.

    Passingly, once the Japanese overcame the difficulty of grasping the new religious ideas they often became quite devout Christians. Surely many converted for economic incentive but there were also many meaningful converts to the Christian Faith as well. Oda perished, assassinted by one of his henchmen, and his political successors Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu were far less favorably-inclined to Christianity (it was perceived as operating against the stability of the newly-united country). Official persecution eventually set in, the worst example of which is the execution via crucifixion of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan: Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Japan eventually went into seclusion, the Europeans were largely expelled, and Japanese Christians were forced to renounce their religion of be killed. This is the period of "hidden Christianity" in Japan, when the faithful practiced their religion in secret or in a disguised fashion: Kakure Kirishitan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The article follows now.


    In all societies remarkable leaders emerge despite the constraints of culture, customs, religion and other factors. In Japan this certainly applies to Oda Nobunaga who was born in 1534 and died in 1582.

    Oda Nobunaga had a real spark of energy and while people tend to focus on the violent aspect of this great leader of Japan, it is clear that this is a huge mistake. After all, Oda Nobunaga utilized modernity in many ways and he introduced new thinking which gave greater freedom to the peasantry in the economic sphere.
    The legacy of Oda Nobunaga is very strong and under him the Christian faith began to spread in Japan. He clearly did not follow the “fortress Buddhism” of the Edo period which would ultimately kill every single Christian in this brutal period for Christians in Japan.

    On the contrary, he understood how Buddhist elites abused power and preserved the status quo. Sadly, Oda Nobunaga’s thinking would not be shared by the majority of the leaders who would follow him and all individuals would have to register at Buddhist temples in the Edo period.
    Therefore, Oda Nobunaga does create problems for Japanese individuals who revere the Edo period or who may have nationalistic tendencies. After all, Oda Nobunaga would learn from the outside world and he would listen to what Christian missionaries had to say.

    In many ways, the spirit of Oda Nobunaga is often underestimated or undervalued because he challenged many conventions and he neither supported rigid stratification and nor did he bow down to the feudal mentality of Buddhism at this time.

    Therefore, Oda Nobunaga might be stuck in Japanese history but he truly belongs to world history because of his ambition, thinking, and modern concepts of adopting change in order to transform society.

    Also, the violent aspect of Oda Nobunaga is over-played because it was clear that the power structures were based on self-interests and maintaining the firm stratification of society in order to further increase their respective power bases. This meant that peasants had little room in the field of trade and they were tied to poverty because of the rigid system.



    At the same time the Buddhist hierarchy was powerful in Japan in this period or what could be deemed Japan in this period. After all, the competing power structures meant that this country was disjointed and lacked any real centralization which could enforce and maintain a strong unitary state.
    Therefore, Oda Nobunaga would be the key in the centralization of Japan but the visionary aspect of Oda Nobunaga would not be shared and this applies to opening up Japan. However, the legacy of Oda Nobunaga enabled the Edo period to begin because of his policies and unifying tendencies which were followed by the next two leaders of Japan.

    In this period of history it is difficult to find the concept of Italy, Japan, Germany, and virtually all future nation states because structures were lose and the center was weak. Also, the sense of national identity did not exist throughout the unitary nation state and these concepts only became a reality in the future.
    The unitary nation state of Japan in the period of Oda Nobunaga and throughout the Edo Period was very different and modern Japan would not fully materialize until the Meiji Restoration of 1868 which would centralize and expand the power of the center.

    Therefore, Oda Nobunaga’s centralization was based on the main power bases in Japan that existed in the 16th century. However, the Ainu, the people of Ryukyu (Okinawa), the nature of the fudai system, ronin, and the power of certain daimyo groups, meant that all these factors prevented a truly unified Japan.
    Modern day Hokkaido did not belong to Japan until the Meiji Restoration of 1868 changed everything because Meiji leaders would centralize fully and expand the entity of Japan.

    Despite this, Oda Nobunaga was a vital link in the chain which led to this event because it was he who enabled the Edo period to take place by his thinking and the Meiji Restoration was the ultimate objective of Oda Nobunaga. It is also ironic that the first modernizer who favored religious freedom but was usurped by the thinking of Edo leaders and the Buddhist hierarchy; was ultimately successful when the Meiji Restoration took place because religious freedom would be restored and Meiji leaders would utilize modernity in order to protect Japan from outside powers.
    During the period of Oda Nobunaga in Japan it was clear that Buddhist monks who were warlike had desired to control power, or to be at the center of power, had to be crushed in Mt. Hiei because of historical factors. From the Heike war and until the rise of Oda Nobunaga the Buddhist monastery of Mt. Hiei was instrumental in Japanese history.

    This Buddhist monastery was instrumental in all major power processes and this especially applied to the military and political objectives of all major leaders. Therefore, Oda Nobunaga had to destroy this power concentration in order to fulfill his ambition and he truly did this because the conflict was bloody and brutal.
    The warlike Tendai Buddhists of Mt. Hiei were neither meek nor mild and they had to be challenged by Oda Nobunaga in order for him to set the stage for centralization. The conflict was bloody on both sides and mercy and compassion would not be shown by both forces who fully understood the situation and what was at stake.

    This conflict culminated with every single Hiei monk being slaughtered and the Buddhist monastery was destroyed. Again, Oda Nobunaga was revolutionary because just like Islamic power structures in modern day Afghanistan which are preventing modernization and desire to preserve their power base; Oda Nobunaga would crush an established power base which was hindering Japan and which had no intent on making life easier for the peasantry in this period.
    Oda Nobunaga would show no compassion but simply move on to his next objective because he knew that this victory would free him to concentrate on greater goals. This applies to centralization, modernity, economic policies, strengthening the military base, and utilizing firearms in order to create a future dynamic state based on commerce and self-preservation in a hostile world.

    Once more the commercial and economic aspect of Oda Nobunaga’s thinking would be hindered by Edo leaders but this factor can’t be pinned on Oda Nobunaga. Therefore, the Meiji Restoration would also resemble the modernization of his thinking but of course because of the huge gap in time then on a grander scale.
    It is factual that Oda Nobunaga was a leader who would use violence in order to challenge the old order but he clearly had no option. Either his policies of centralization would challenge the status quo and enable a new power base to emerge or the countless divisions would hinder the country.

    Sadly, despite Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu being a link with Oda Nobunaga this only applied to their shared interest of a centralized power base. Therefore, the following leaders after him did not share either his visionary ideas or his openness to the Christian faith and the same applies to economic policies.
    The Tokugawa period (Edo period) in time would resemble modern day Somalia where every Christian convert is searched for and then killed. The only difference is that this was a Buddhist inquisition of Christianity and in time the followers of Shinto would resent the Buddhist ruling clique because of economic factors.

    Simon August Thalmann comments that “Buddhism wasn’t devalued as much for a perceived foreignness, however, as much as for its association to the former feudal government of the Tokugawa period. Furthermore, the leaders of the Buddhist temples of the Tokugawa period had used their position to amass wealth for themselves at a time when many people were suffering (thereby) not helping their appeal to reformers in the Meiji era.”

    “During the Tokugawa period, Shinto had suffered under Buddhist domination and influence, to the point where high-ranking Buddhist priest many times came to control Shinto shrines. During the Meiji period, reformers sought to “purify” Shinto from Buddhist influence by replacing Buddhism altogether. Opposition made this impossible, however, and finally the necessary arrangements were made for the coexistence of the two traditions.”

    Therefore, while people mention the natural trinity which began with Oda Nobunaga and was followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and then Tokugawa Ieyasu. It is part true because both Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu continued the thinking of Oda Nobunaga when it came to centralization but this is where it ends.
    In other vital areas the visionary Oda Nobunaga was very different and ironically it would be the Meiji leaders which ended the Edo period who would be the real link with aspects of his thinking.

    In another article that I wrote called Oda Nobunaga: free thinker and modernizer in 16th century Japan I comment that the modernizer Oda Nobunaga “…was very open minded and he supported modernity and this applies to allowing Christian missions, adopting modern firearms, greater fortifications of major castles, freeing people from the constraints on trade, opening up trade for peasants, rewarding people on merit and not just family lines, and other policies which were political and based on developing the economy.”

    “Oda Nobunaga would do all this in such a short period of time and during all this radical change he would wage war against his enemies, attack a major center of Buddhism, form complex alliances, and set in motions the unitary state of Japan.”

    “This unitary state of Japan, like mentioned before, was based on the power bases in Japan at this time and it must be remembered that modern day Hokkaido did not belong to Japan even during the start of the Meiji Restoration in 1868.”

    “While many feudal leaders in the Western world, Hindu world, and Islamic world during this period supported stratification; Oda Nobunaga did not and instead he introduced major economic policies and rewarded people on merit within his system of thinking.”
    “Oda Nobunaga, like the Hindu world, and unlike the Christian world or Islamic world in this period; supported religious freedom and he was open to new ideas in the realms of theology and thinking.”

    “He was revolutionary but sadly the Edo period would mainly isolate Japan, not fully because important daimyo’s like the Satsuma daimyo, would trade with Ryukyu (Okinawa), China, Korea, and other countries which would carry trade.”

    “However, stratification would once more be adopted during the Edo period, modernization would be curtailed, and the Christian faith would be eradicated because of major anti-Christian pogroms and massacres.”

    “However, the spark that Oda Nobunaga unleashed was truly remarkable given this period of history and this applies to his views on modern warfare, economics, religious pluralism, tackling stratification, rewarding individuals on merit, freeing the peasants from untold misery, and other important areas.”

    Oda Nobunaga was a free thinker but a man of his time when it came to military fighting. Also, he was a very complex character and while he is sometimes viewed through the prism of violence this is misleading. After all, his enemies were equally violent but unlike his enemies, Oda Nobunaga had a long-term objective and he implemented policies in order to modernize.

    Therefore, some Japanese and international historians may underestimate Oda Nobunaga because of his power concentration but he had hoped to revolutionize Japan. His legacy which was maintained by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu was a distortion because it only applied to centralization but Oda Nobunaga challenged the status quo and implemented social and economic reforms alongside religious openness.

    Oda Nobunaga clearly desired a more pluralistic society based on new economic theories, political modernization, and military concepts which would safeguard the centralized state and people of Japan who came under this political system.

    If anything, Oda Nobunaga was before his time and the Meiji Restoration would resemble aspects of his thinking much more than the static nature of the Edo period.
    "And, as we Catholics know, Western Civilization is Roman Civilization, first classical Roman Civilization, then Roman Catholic Civilization, as the Christians preserved and carried classical Roman Civilization to the world in a Christianized form. That is, after all, why we are described as Roman Catholics."

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.


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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    HIDDEN CHRISTIANS of JAPAN



    Christal Whelan:
    At the beginning of sakoku, or self-imposed national isolation, as estimated 150000 Christians had gone underground. The practice of e-fumi (trampling of Christian images) began around 1629 as a means of detecting Christians by observing who would shrink from the act. It was later systematized with the establishment of the Shumon Aratame Yaku (Religious Inquisition Office) in 1640, whereby the ceremony was integrated into the new year's celebrations in temples throughout Kyushu....

    The Christians lived under constant threat of persecution, according to which harassment and torture were deemed successful if they induced apostasy. Some punishments for this purpose were the retraction of employment (which inevitably led to begging or starvation), dismemberment, branding, water torture, lowering the victim's body into the boiling sulfur springs of Unzen, and the ana-tsurushi, or headfirst suspension in a pit of excrement until the victim either recanted or died....

    In this climate, the Kakure Kirishitan (Hidden Christians), the descendents of Japan's first Christians, continued to practice what they remembered of the Catholic faith. Although the Bible had never been translated into Japanese, devotional books containing all the major Catholic prayers in Japanese with sprinklings of Latin and Portuguese had once circulated. The faithful had already committed some of these prayers to memory. Nevertheless, their knowledge of their new religion is highly questionable given the missionary strategies of the time. Because the missionaries believed that salvation was impossible without baptism, they adopted the extension method of conversion. This meant that they opted for breadth at the expense of depth. They baptized as many people as possible with the minimal amount of indoctrination: this instruction, they believed, could be deepened at a later date.

    But this second stage never had a chance to develop sufficiently. Besides the constant threat of persecutions, the missions suffered from a chronic shortage of priests: in fact, the number never exceeded 137 - to administer to a congregation of 300000 at its height. Most believers had probably received only about ten days of instruction in the faith....

    The discovery of the Kakure Kirishitan on 17 March 1865 by the French priest Bernard Petitjean has been told so many times that its meaning has gravitated from history to legend. While it is typical to speak of Petitjean's discovery of the Kakure Kirishitan, the reverse is perhaps a more accurate description of the event, since it was the underground Christians who first approached Petitjean. Father Petitjean's diary entry for that day relates how fifteen Japanese were waiting at the door of his newly built church on Oura slope in Nagasaki. Three women then knelt beside him and said, The heart of all of us here is the same as yours. Then they asked, Where is the statue of the Maria-sama? These words opened a new era, for now Petitjean knew that he was in the presence of the Kakure Kirishitan....

    Unlike Catholic priests who were later to work in the Nagasaki area, Petitjean was impressed by the Kakure Kirishitan's knowledge of Catholic theology: they knew of the Trinity, the Fall, the Incarnation, and the Ten Commandments. Without books or priests to instruct them or renew their faith, they had transmitted several prayers orally and many knew the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Apostles' Creed, the Confiteor, the Salve Regina, and the Act of Contrition.

    Petitjean recounted a visit to Shittsu in Sotome, a region northwest of Nagasaki, in 1865. During his overnight stay, he went to a home in which the family had preserved a picture depicting the fifteen mysteries of the rosary, with pictures of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padua, and a third unidentified saint at the base. People in this village gathered to worship in the home that kept this holy picture. Moreover, the usual religious organization he found at that time consisted of two principal officials: the first - the chokata (calendar man) - was a man who could read and write and whose duty it was to lead the Sunday prayers and administer to the dying; the second official was the mizukata (baptizer).

    The LION & the CARDINAL
    Annuit Coeptis dio el Víctor.

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    The establishment of the Christian Faith in Japan is an excellent example of how the Christ's Gospel can find listeners in any time and any place, provided that it's explained in a coherent and consistent fashion (which modern Christianity isn't).

    Let me present the case of Hasekura Tsunenaga, a retainer of noted Japanese warlord Date Masamune (baptismal name of Francisco Felipe Faxicura). This samurai visited the court of Spain and other parts of Europe. I'd copy/paste these pages but the format isn't the best (I tried).

    The Epic Journey in ships of Hasekura Tsunenaga

    Hasekura Tsunenaga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    El Santo de la poesia Haiku era un Ninja << In Spanish.
    "And, as we Catholics know, Western Civilization is Roman Civilization, first classical Roman Civilization, then Roman Catholic Civilization, as the Christians preserved and carried classical Roman Civilization to the world in a Christianized form. That is, after all, why we are described as Roman Catholics."

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    The Epic Journey of Hasekura Tsunenaga:


    Hasekura Tsunenaga
    (1571 - 1622)
    The Voyage of Hasekura Tsunenaga (1613-1620) was remarkable in its scope and vision standing in hard contrast to the policies of the Tokugawa in their attempts to control the political climate, foreign trade and impact of the outside world on Japan in the early 17th Century. This journey wrote a remarkable chapter in Japanese History.This voyage of a delegation of 180 men was begun in 1613 at the time Jamestown the first English Colony in America was just seven years old and struggling to establish a foothold in Virginia. Hasekura's mission traveled from Japan to Europe crossing both the Pacific and Atlanitc and returned again to Japan arriving back in Japan in 1620, the same year that Plymouth Colony was established by a group of 140 Pilgrims coming to America from England by the way of Holland.
    This journey was the highwater mark of the use of ships for the Japanese in the 17th century.

    The Voyage of Hasekura Tsunenaga and his emissaries to Rome
    crossed two oceans and Mexico between Alcopulco and Veracruz
    becoming the first transoceanic voyage made in a galleon
    built entirely by Japanese Shipwrights
    Hasekura Tsunenaga was a retainer of Date Masamune the founder and Daiymo of Sendai Japan. He led a political delegation to Mexico and Europe (1613 - 20) and was the first Japanese political envoy to visit the American continent. In the early 17th century Japanese merchants were making efforts to trade with the west on their own. In July of 1611 an emissary under Sebastion Viscaino brought back from Mexico a group of Japanese merchants who had traveled there with Rodrigo Vivero Y Velasco to establish trading relations with Mexico in the previous year. This effort to establish trading ties with Mexico inspired Date Masamune to send his own delegation to seek trade with Mexico and Southern Europe. Date Masamune appointed Hasekura Tsunenaga, a veteran of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea 1n 1592 and 1597, as his personal representative to lead this delegation.

    Date Masamune the founder and Diaymo of Sendai Japan (Born 1567 - Died 1636)

    At the onset of Hasekura's mission it seems obvious that Date Masamune was functioning with a different set of goals and aspirations from those of the Tokugawa. Date was prepared to embrace Christian missionaries and trade with the west where the Tokugawa was motivated by gaining control of the foreign trade to the exclusion of foreign interests in Japan. In addition Date undertook the building of seaworthy ships that could handle the transoceanic voyages, an undertaking that Tokugawa Ieyasu had attempted with limited success with the English mariner William Adams. For this purpose, approximately 4,400 workers led by Vizcaino from New Hispania and ship-building carpenters delegated from the Tokugawa government built a 500-ton class galleon in just six months. This was the largest of ships of this kind built by the Japanese. The largest ship built under the supervison of William Adams, had been 120 tons.
    In October 1613 Hasekura, with a delegation of 180 Japanese, set out for Acapulco in the galleon built by Japanese shipwrights under Spanish supervision. The ship was named the San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist). Its very name indicates the interest Date Masamune had in Christianity at the time. Masamune's interest in Christianity is further indicated by the letter which he sent with his envoys to the Pope, one line which said "I’ll offer my land for a base of your missionary work. Send us as many padres as possible."

    Philip III of Spain reign (1598-1621) by Diego Velázquez

    Having just crossed the Pacific Ocean Hasekura Tsunenaga had an audience with the Mexican viceroy in 1614. After traversing Mexico between Acapulco and Vera cruz and the Atlantic Ocean in 1615 he sailed for Spain where he met with the Spanish monarch Philip III (1598-1621). While in Spain he was baptized a Christian. The ceremony was conducted by the Archbishop of Toledo and the Duke of Lerma was desginated as Hasekura's Godfather. Hasekura'a delegation stayed in Spain for eight months before traveling on to Italy.

    Hasekura Tsunenaga's Christian Godfather the Durk of Lerma
    Painting By Peter Paul Rubens Circa 1603


    The duke of Lerma By Titian
    The Duke of Lerma was the main administrator of Phillip III's rule and in effect was the de facto ruler of Spain, being designated as Haskekura's Catholic Godfather demonstrates the importance the Spanish leadership put on the visit of Date's delegation. Had Ieyasu's policies toward the Catholic influence in Japan been different the ground work for the future would have been firmly in Masumune's court, however the doors were being shut to further missionary influences in Japan even as Hasekura's delegation were being shown the courts of Spain and Italy.
    In Rome he had an audience with Pope Paul V (1605-1621) where Hasekura and his delegates were well received, to the extent that Pope Paul V even granted Hasekura Roman citizenship.

    Pope Paul V (1605-1621) By Caravaggio
    Hasekura arrived in Rome in 1615 the same year Galileo Galilei first went before the Roman Inquisition to present his findings against geocentricism and it was the same Pope Paul V who granted Hasekura his Roman Citizenship who repressed the teachings of Copernicus and Galileo Galilei in the following year labeling them as heretical.
    During the course of Hasekura's mission, back in Japan in February of 1614, Tokugawa Hidetada had issued another edict expelling Christian priests from Japan and this resulted in a hardening of the Spanish attitude toward trade with Japan. Hasekura had met his objectives and accomplished his mission however because of the repression of Christian Missionaries was becoming the political agenda of the Tokogawa, Hasekura failed to secure open trade agreements with the west for Date Masamune. Thirty of Hasekura's delegates remained in Spain knowing that by returning to Japan they would be persecuted as Christians.
    The Japanese mission was the topic of much discussion within the Jesuits circle in Rome and the motives for sending this mission to Rome was hotly debated in view of what the church understood the current policies of the Tokugawa to be. The politcal climate in Japan and the recent restrictions made by the Tokugawa against Christian missionaries was well known and success of the mission was compromised by the differences between the statements made by Date Masumune and the hard line taken by the Tokugawa against foreign missionaries. It was clear that although Masumune had sent his trade delegation to Rome that back in Japan Date ruled at the discretion and favor of the Tokugawa and that it was the policies of the Tokugawa that the Church had to be most concerned with.
    Hasekura Tsunenaga and his remaining delegates made the return trip home to Japan making a stop over in the Philippines. The delegation remained in the Philippines, another important Japanese trading colony, and after two years in the Philippines Hasekura returned to Japan in September 1620. Despite the fact that this mission had been received favorably, and there was great European interest in Japan, Date Masamune was forced to abandoned his efforts at diplomacy and trade with the west after the political agenda of the Tokugawa Shogunate banned Christianity in Japan and began to severely limit and control Japan's contact with the rest of the world. Date Masamune's focus would shift from foreign diplomacy to saving his own political career in Japan where he would have to again prove his loyalty to the Tokogawa despite the evidence of his pro western leanings.

    Hasekura's portrait done during his mission
    in Rome in 1615 by Claude Deruet

    The differences between the outlooks of the two leaders can noted in the letters of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Date Masamune. In Ieyasu's letter to Pope Paul V he stated "I don't mind if you take advantage of coming to Japan to make a profit but don't spread Christianity." On the other hand, Date's letter said "I'll offer my land for a base of your missionary work. Send us as many padres as possible."

    Ship Detail from Hasekura Painting
    Because of their different outlooks on trade with the west and the desirability of having Christian missionaries in Japan Date Masamune would come under suspicion of plotting to overthrow the Tokugawa and the political climate in Date's provinces would require him to prove again his loyalty to the Tokugawa. The Tokugawa judged to a large degree the extent of this loyalty on how Date dealt with the known Christian subjects within his domain.
    After Ieaysu's death the task would fall to Date Masumune to finance the building his mortuary temple. This undertaking would drain his financial coffers and allow the Shogunate to keep his political allegiance to the Tokugawa under constant scrutiny. After Hasekura's return Christain activities in Japan would be severly curtailed by the Tokugawa.
    To learn more of this epic adventure read Shusaku Endo's historical novel "Samurai".
    Hasekura Tsunenaga's , mission would be the one and only journey of its kind using ships in the 17th century in Japanese History.

    The Epic Journey in ships of Hasekura Tsunenaga
    Annuit Coeptis dio el Víctor.

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Pictures from Ikitsuki




    Our time in Ikitsuki started at the the Ikitsuki museum. One of the museums curators Mr. Nakazono showed us the Kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christians) artifacts and also helped us gain an over view of Ikitsuki's history.

    Here is a roof tile that was commissioned most likely by a wealthy Christian for their home.

    Pictured here is one of the original decrees against christians.

    In hopes of finding Christians, officials would make everyone in an area step on a christian image to prove they were not christians. These images were called fumie. They usually depicted Christ of Mary and crosses.



    An ornate crucifix.

    The museum had some early Japanese Christian art. Here we have Mary feeding Jesus. These scrolls were hidden and passed down through the generations in hidden Christian families.

    Small image of Mary that is disguised as a buddhist image.

    Here is another hidden Christian scroll. It depicts Mary Jesus in heaven possibly with other impressions of god. These scrolls show the Japanese impressions of the Christian teachings.

    This scroll is of Mary and Jesus as an infant.

    These ceramic containers were very important in the hidden christian tradition on Ikitsuki. The Ojiyaku would have to go to a small island off the east cost of the Ikitsuki to collect the water for baptisms in them. This water would be used for baptisms preformed by the Ojiyaku.



    These paper crosses were placed in the mouths of the hidden Christian for healing purposes.

    While a large number of Christians on Ikitsuki remained hidden, many rejoined the Catholic Church when it returned to Japan. We we able to see and explore the catholic church on the Island. The priest explains the art work in the church.

    Depicted here is the island from which the baptism water was collected. Faces can be clearly seen in the Island, these are the faces of the hidden christians that suffered in Ikitsuki.






    Here are the some of the few stain glass windows of the church.

    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.


    Each freeze has special significance to the Christian history of the Island.

    While the stain glass and freezes were nice, the most stunning aspect of the church are the mosaics that run the length of both sides of the church.

    Besides the beauty of the mosaics, the fact that they are made from single wings of butterflies makes one think of the amount of labor that went into making this church so beautiful.

    The priest who help build and run the parish had a passion for butterflies and his practices as a Lepidopterist allowed for this breathtaking art to be made.

    The details of each mosaic are incredible. Each wing was meticulously placed. Over 30,000 butterflies are in the church.



    Here is a close up of the detail of the mosaic. The colors and patterns are astounding.









    In this section we can see the range of colors from brown and orange to greens and iridescent blues.









    The only stain glass in the church is above the altar.


    The length and back of the church are all covered in the elaborate mosaics.

    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.












    Even in a small Catholic Church on a remote island in Japan, one can find unique and breath taking art.

    After the church we proceeded around the Island to see some of the sacred places for Hidden Christians.

    In this small thicket is the one of those sacred spaces.



    This is a memorial on the Island to the christians who suffered during hundreds of years of oppression.

    This is a sacred space for hidden christians.

    There are many small stone and concrete part to the space and some that look to be shinto but the space one that hidden christians traditionally came.





    We were lucky enough to meet with Mr. Taniyama. He let us into his home and talked to us late into the night. He was an Ojiyaku and the head of a house hold that had been passing down the hidden christian tradition for hundreds of years. He made the decision to not force his children to carry on the tradition and has become buddhist. He felt it necessary to record his families history and the history of the hidden christians because in his opinion it is impossible for the tradition to carry on.

    Mr. Fukumoto also joined us that night. He is also descendant from hidden christians but his father and family decided to rejoin the catholic church. We were able to ask both men about their thoughts on the history and current conditions of christianity in Ikitsuki. This interview was one of the highlights of our studies.

    Mr. Taniyama shared books, photographs, newspaper clippings and even and NHK special that he was in that had to do with hidden christians. In the special he was still a practicing hidden christian.



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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.




    Mr. Fukumoto explains his thoughts on Christian history on the Island and how he and his family fit in as practicing Catholics.

    Here is our group with Mr. and Mrs. Taniyama and Mr. Fukumoto after a long night of discussion.

    The next day we toured the rest of the island. The west side of the island is rugged and beautiful.

    On the west coast there is a sacred space for kakure kirishitans that unfortunately has been littered with garbage all along the beach.














    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Brief Historical Overview
    In 1549, Fransico Xavier (1506-1552) landed in Kagoshima; with him, he brought Christianity. As a Jesuit missionary, Xavier had great success. Xavier arrived at the beginning of the last decade of a century of civil war that had left the Japan in economic disarray. Christianity, as well as trade relations, spread with the support of Spain and Portugal. Many ports or places of trading, such as Nagasaki, were hotspots for Christianity. This intertwining of trade and religion led to the spread of Christianity and the influence of the Jesuit presence.

    Fearing a repeat of colonization that occurred in other countries, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) expelled foreign missionaries. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) ordered the crucifixion of all Christians in Kyoto. The order only resulted in the martyrdom of 26 Christians that occurred in Nagasaki. These events forced missionaries to work more secretly.

    When Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) became Shogun in 1603, he used the missionaries for their connections to the silk trade. Once the missionaries were circumvented, the daimyo were ordered to kick all of the foreign missionaries out through the port of Nagasaki and to destroy all churches. Japan entered a period of almost complete isolation from the West, with the exception of contact with the Dutch who were living on Dejima, a man-made island in Nagasaki. The next major event in Christian history in Japan was the Rebellion on the Shimabara peninsula. The rebels were Christians who had been enduring economic hardships and heavy taxation. Even though the rebellion was not entirely religiously motivated, the government feared a larger Christian uprising and used its forces to crush the rebellion.

    With these and other forms of persecution occurring, many Christians went underground and continued to practice the Christianity they had learned. Although some synthesis and evolution occurred, much of the original Christians practices were retained by the Kakure Kirishitan (Hidden Christians). To this day the prayers can be recited that have been passed on and remembered for generations, what has been lost to these peoples is the meaning of the words. While When Japan was opened again in 1854, Catholics sought out the Christians that had held onto their faith and practices in remote regions. Some Christians rejoined the Catholic Church and others remained separate. It is these groups of people and their history that we have studied, and that are the content of this site.
    Copyright © 2006 Brendan Eagan

    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Nagasaki

    Being a city that is saturated with history, Nagasaki was a logical starting point and base for our research. It is centrally located within the majority of the areas we researched and has some very useful sites and people that we were able to use as resources. The curators of the 26 Martyr's Museum, Father Deigo Yuuki, and Father Renzo De Luca were invaluable and generous with their time and help. They shared their extensive knowledge of the history of Catholicism and Christianity in the region. Nagasaki's trade with Portugal was coupled with the spread of Christianity from the beginning. Nagasaki was a port of goods and ideas. Oura Cathedral is in Nagasaki, which played a large role in the Catholic Church’s discovery of "underground and hidden" Christians. Many of these Sempuku and Kakure Kirishitan lived in and just around Nagasaki. The largest Asian Cathedral was in Urakami until the Atomic bombing of Nagasaki destroyed it. Today, Nagasaki has one of the highest concentrations of Christians in Japan.


    This is the Old Oura Church where after 250 years of persecution, hidden christians came to talk to Father Petitjean. This is the place where the Catholic Church first learned of the existance of Christians that had continued living in Nagasaki.



    Statue of Mary at the Old Oura Church.





    This is the front of the 26 Martyrs Meseum in Nagasaki. The memorial in front of the museum has a figure for each martyr.

    Close-ups of the memorial.



    The church behind next to the Museum.

    Diego R. Yuuki, s.j. and Renzo De Luca, s.j. director of the museum both work here. Both men were generous with their time and knowledge and allowed us to see and photograph the artifacts in the museum.

    The museum has many artifacts of historical significance having to do with Christianty in Japan, such as this metal.

    This crab holding a cross is a representation of the story of the crab that brought St. Francis Xavier his cross after a shipwreck.

    Takayama Ukon was one of the first Christian daimyo in Japan.

    These medals are of Saints that worked in Japan in the Nagasaki region.

    These coins or medals comemerate the four young Japanese christians that went to europe during the hight of Christianty's success in Japan in 1582.


    This is a tsuba or the guard of a katana, the sword carried by samurai. When Christianity prospered in the region samurai who were christian would pay for christian symbols to be put into their tsubas. The following are some more examples.

    Untitled Document



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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.








    This is a depiction of the martyrdom of a christian that occured during the persecutions.

    This is an original reward notice telling people how much money they will recieve if depending on the importance of the christians that they turn in. It says that one can recieve 500 silver coins for a preist and 300 silver coins for a religious brother. It also states that a person will still recieve money if they themselves are christian and that if it comes out that they have hidden one of the people they are looking for they there family and even their whole clan will be punished. They is says everyone should obey.

    This is a Shumon Aratame register. It has certification of membership in a Buddhist temple. It is one of the last. The names in the register are of public officers of Nagasaki. Everyone was forced to be a registered member of a Buddhist temple when christianity was outlawed.

    These are Maria canon. Canons are typical buddhist icons but hidden and underground christians could use them to whorship Mary and still not be overtly christian.

    This is the backside of a miror used by hidden christians on the Goto Islands.

    When Europeans heard of the persecutions of christians in Japan these renderings were made.

    They depict a litany of tourtures that happened at the hot springs.

    One can see the people that didn't renounce their faith being thrown over cliffs and tourtured in hot springs.


    This is another perspective of the statue memorializing martyrs.

    This is the bone of St. Francis Xavier. The box contains his cloak.

    Here is the back fo the wall of the 26 martyr memorial on the way out of the museum.


    Here is a canon in Nagasaki that can be seen from the 26 martyrs museum. One can see how the Maria canon could be hidden so that worshipers could pray to mary but keep it secret. The figures are very simliar.



    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Goto Islands

    The Goto Islands are off the west cost of Kyushu in the East China Sea. The island chain served as a refuge for many Sempuku Kirishitan. In 1797, Christians hiding in part of Nagasaki fled to the Goto Islands. The crackdown after the Shimabara rebellion, along with increasing persecutions, prompted many others to flee to these islands
    as well. The remoteness of the islands allowed for Christians to escape the watchful eye of government officials. Even with persecutions on the islands, the Christians lasted generation after generation. The distance from highly populated areas is a common trait in the areas as Sempuku and Kakure Kirishitans were able to remain
    hidden and to survive while holding onto their traditions. There are many Catholic churches on Goto that commemorate the Sempuku and Kakure Kirishitan struggles. Like Tsuwano, Goto had Christian prisons where
    many people were tortured and died. Many children died in the prisons because of the horrid conditions.


    Before we stopped at Hamawaki we went to a site that was a memorial to Christians that were imprisoned here. This is a shot of the small footprint of the cell in which the Christians were crammed.

    Part of the memorial has graves of people that perished here. Many of the graves were for children. The cramped conditions of the cells resulted in many children being crushed to death. The stones give acounts of how some of the children died.

    Many of the names are distinctly Christian, Maria was one of the most common.







    Here is a shot of the Church that is next and part of the memorial.



    Statue outside of Hamawaki Church.





    While he was not sure, Mr. Izumi believes that all of there graves are facing East to be facing Christian heaven; which contrasts the rest that face west toward Buddhist paradise. Even though not all of the graves have crosses the fact that they are all packed tightly and facing the same direction makes Mr. Izumi believe that the families who had the grave put here are descendants of hidden Christians. Not even the Catholics that live in the area do the same thing. It is a subtle testament to the spirit of the hidden Christians.








    Out side of the church are some small memorials to the hidden Christians for the regions. Many of the churches from this region commemorate the huge number of martyrs.




    Mr. Izumi explains the statue of the men who brought Catholocism to the Goto Islands.

    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.


    Dozaki also has a small section of garden with naturally formed rocks. These rocks were brought from Sotome and other places Christians were fleeing from.

    Mr. Izumi explains how the rock looks like Mary and that the volcanic rock cannot be found naturally on the Goto Islands.

    This rock also has an image of Christ and Mary making it a sacred stone for the people who brought it to the Islands.

    This stone does not have the image of Christ but just the image of Mary.

    This stone just looks normal in among the others but when Mr. Izumi turns it over there is a faint cross on the back. When he replaces the stone he turns it back over hidding the cross.








    The interior of Dozaki has a small museum portion besides having a normal church.



    We then went to Mizunoura church, meaning water inlet church.

    This style of arched celling is the same in Hamawaki Church. The beautiful architechture is found in many of the Catholic churches in Goto.



    One can find the use of flowers as elements in crosses in many of the Churches of Goto.

    This stylized depiction of a camellia as a cross is unique to this region of Japan. The tsubaki (camellia) is found in almost all of the churches in Goto.

    The church grounds has a stunning garden.






    The garden also has crosses that have the fourteen stations of the cross.





    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.








    Here is a close up of one of the stations of the cross.









    This is another shot of Mizunoura church.

    Behind the graden are some graves and monuments to some important early Japanese christians. The Statue is of Johannes De Goto one of the 26 Martyrs.




    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Ikitsuki



    Ikituki is a beautiful island just off of Hirado in Kyushu. While the island is well known for its historical and current whaling and fishing industry, it also has a dynamic past and present Kakure Kirishitan presence. The island’s geography and surroundings played a large role in the unique aspects and development in Christian practices. Ikituki has had a recent push to record this unique Kakure Kirishitan history before it is lost forever. With the economic condition pulling the youth away from the island, many of the Kakure Kirishitan groups are thinning or even disbanding. Even traditionally secretive groups feel the need to share or record the traditions their ancestors risked their lives to preserve. Our group had the pleasure of meeting with one former leader of one of these groups and one of his friends whose family used to be Kakure Kirishitan but rejoined the Catholic Church. Each man shared his own family’s history and then discussed their thoughts on Kakure Kirishitan on Ikituki in general. Ikitsuki had continued Kakure Kirishitan practices longer than other regions that suffered disintegration of their hidden Christian communities. But now even on Ikituki the hidden Christian traditions are not being passed on, the communities are dwindling out.

    http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/asian-st.../ikitsuki.html
    Última edición por Hyeronimus; 25/09/2012 a las 12:47

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Shimabara

    The single most significant Christian historical event in Shimabara was a rebellion in 1637. There was significant Christians history in the region before the most famous one. In 1576, Lord Arima was baptized a Christian and over 20,000 residents of his land were obligated to follow suit. From that time on, the peninsula had a strong and significant Christian population. The first persecutions to take place in the region during the new Tokugawa regime took place at the Arima River during 1613. The Martyrs endured the tortures and slow deaths with such vigor and courage that it galvanized the 20,000 onlookers. In hopes of being granted the position of daimyo Hasegawa, the governor of Nagasaki, sent 10,000 troops to torture and murder the Christians into submission. This act of terror simply strengthened the people’s resolve.
    In 1616, a new ruler was appointed to the region, Shigemasa Matsukura. He moved his capitol to Shimabara in hopes of succeeding his predecessors who had failed in crushing the Christians. The people of Shimabara were forced to build a new castle for the daimyo. It took 7 years of labor, step taxes, tortures and severe punishments to finish the construction. When the peasants could not pay the taxes, their wives and daughters where taken and subjected to many forms of torture. These types of harsh punishments worsened when Iemitsu Tokugawa became Shogun. Martyrdoms and persecution were everywhere.
    In 1637, the economic and religious conditions were no longer bearable for the people of Shimabara. Disenfranchised samurai, who had been denied their rank because of their religion, and Christian peasants gathered supporters. These rebels held Hara castle and its surrounding areas for four months against government troops. The Dutch were employed by the Tokugawa government to cut off the rebels’ food and water supplies. The rebellion ended soon thereafter. All the rebels were killed: 17,000 men and 20,000 women and children. Christians all over Japan had to go underground if they hadn’t already done so. The persecutions continued for 250 years. The Tokugawa government was frightened by the rebellion and disliked foreign influence. They closed their borders to outsiders, save for the Dutch who were allowed to live on the man-made island of Dejima in Nagasaki. The period leading up to and after the rebellion was the time that the Underground and Hidden Christians lived.

    Back to Shimabara overview

    Our group was allowed to see and take pictures in the museum inside of Shimabara castle. The museum has exhibits from the different time periods of Shimabara's history. Show here are the swords and scabbard of a samurai from Shimabara.

    Samurai armor was also on display. These are the weapons and armor that would have been used by the samurai during the rebellion in 1637.

    Here is a fumie, used to draw out Christians every New Years Day. Every one in an area would have to stamp on an image of Christ or Mary to prove they were not Christians.

    The very visible crosses on these weapons were commissioned by a christian samurai.

    This pottery was also commissioned by christian, most likely by a samurai.

    Here is another Fumie.

    These are small symbols used by hidden Christians much like the Maria Canon. They looked like buddhist images but held different significance for the Christians.



    These are christian's graves just our side of Shimabara castle.







    This pillar notes that they are christian graves.

    This is a shot of our group in front of the Shimabara Castle that has the museum inside. You can see the pillar and graves to the left of us.

    We then went to Shimabara Catholic Church to hear more about the history of christianity in Shimabara.


    The inside of the church itself was unique. The circular layout and art work were different from any other churches we stopped at during our study.

    Untitled Document



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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.




    This is a replica of a fumie. Fumie were tools of spiritual torture. They were first used in 1626; every New Years Day everyone was forced to step on an image of Christ or Mary to prove they were not Christians. In some one refused to step on they and they family were put to death. The hidden Christians used a special prayer to ask forgiveness each time they were forced to step on the fumie.

    The stain glass tell the story of Christianity in Shimabara. It starts with birth of Christ.

    Depicted here is Christianity coming to Shimabara with Father Alessandro Valignano and Luis Almeida. With the work of Valignano Arima became the center of Japanese Christian culture. He used his knowledge of medicine to help people and taught not only religion but also music gymnastics japanese history, culture and literature were taught. He shared the most advanced studies from Europe.

    In the 1580's four young seminarians went on the first diplomatic mission from Japan to Europe. The four young men are seen here.

    The story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. In this story Jesus prepares for his own death. This scene offers a poignant comparison to the preparations martyrs in Shimabara made.

    The Golden age of Christianity in Japan was not to last for ever. We can see people watching their friends and loved ones be forced to renounce their faith or be drowned in the Arima river.

    This scene shows christians being burned at the stake along the Arima river. We can see a woman on the left whose son ran to her as she burned. Her hand and face are raised to heaven.

    This window shows the Martyrdom of Paulo Uchibori and other faithful being lead to Unsen to be torture in the hot springs and thrown off cliffs.

    The last window shows Christ in more of a typical portrayal with the Japanese people in the Marriage Banquet with the Resurrected Christ.

    This flag is a recreation of the flag of the Shimabara rebellion. It depicts two angels worshipping the Eucharist. It says in Portuguese, "Praised be the most holy sacrament."

    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.






    This statue on the outside of the church depicts Paul Uchibori youngest son the age of five who showed no sign of pain when his hands were maimed. All of Paul's children had all but their thumbs and pinkies removed because the in the soldier's eyes Christians were less than animals so they should have less fingers than animals.

    Another statue portrays Valignano helping the sick.

    From the Church we went to the ruins of Hara Castle, the site of the Shimabara rebellion. We were lead by Shinji Matsumoto the historian in charge of the excavation hara castle and running Hara Culture Center. Mr. Matsumoto show us around the excavation and the culture center.

    Some areas just look like fields, others have masonry or even bones of people killed in the rebellion.











    Here are bones at the excavation.



    Mr. Matsumoto explains the various parts of the excavation and significant parts of each.

    Here is our group in front of a statue of the leader of the Shimabara Rebellion, 16 yearold Shio Tokisada.


    Many of the rebels placed crosses and medals images of Mary in there mouths so if they died the governments troops wouldn't know to strip them of these sacred symbols. This picture shows teeth around a medal.

    Here is a cross next to what looks to be a jaw bone.



    Untitled Document

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    Re: Oda Nobunaga: a visionary who was open to Christianity in the 16th century.

    Libros antiguos y de colección en IberLibro

    At the Hara Culture Center we were able to see much of what had been recovered at the excavation. Here is some pottery that was recovered at Hara. The porcelain plates were found in the main enclosure of the Hara Castle ruins. This porcelain was made in the kilns of Jingdezhen in China between 1590 and 1630. The characters on the middle of the plate saying tenka ichi meaning number one under heaven. During the warring state period this was a favorite phrase of generals like Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. During that time there was a system of checks in place that ensured that only generals could use this phrase. After Hideyoshi's death the upper class could used it as well. The Tokugawa Shogunate outlawed the use of tenka-ichi once again in 1682.

    Here are other pieces of porcelain that were fired in the Jigndezhen kilns in the Jianxi provence in China. That pottery district provided the royal court of China with it's porcelain and was a stand out in China in the industry. The existence of this pottery speaks to the prosperity of the region and the amount of trade going on in Arima.

    Here are many of the medals recovered from the excavation.





    This is one of the crosses found. It is said that the rebels would melt down the bullets that were shot at them by the government troops and fashion them into crosses.



    Here are some of those same bullets and possible a cross made of some.









    This is one of the more stunning pieces in the centers collection. It is an ornately decorated cross with intricate details all over. It also has volume which shows even more craftsmanship.



    Many remains were found at Hara Castle. The government troops killed 37,000 people once they were able to gain the upper hand. Here are some of the skulls and other remains found. You can see on some, the trauma sustained.






    Here is one of the canon balls used by the Dutch. The Dutch were commissioned by the Bakufu to cut of the rebels food supplies and help crush the rebellion. Dutch ships bombarded the castle and cut off the rebels. With no food or water the rebel couldn't last any longer. The government troops burned the castle to the ground and took apart much of its masonry. They also killed all of the rebels including women and children. For the next 250 years Christians were forced to flee and hide horrible punishments and tortures because of their beliefs.

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