Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nagasaki and the Introduction of Christianity in Japan

Francis Xavier arrived in Kagoshima in 1549 and began to introduce the teachings of Christianity. European missionaries were very successful in Kyushu and Christianity flourished in Nagasaki, where the port was open for trade with the Portuguese.  

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who seized power in 1582, was initially lenient toward Christianity. In 1587, he became wary of the expanding Christian influence and ordered the expulsion of the Catholic priests from Japan, but allowed the missionaries to stay in Nagasaki to maintain good trade relations.  This changed in 1596, when a Spanish ship sailing from the Phillipines to Mexico came ashore during a typhoon. Spanish crewmembers boasted they would be colonizing Japan, which angered Hideyoshi. On February 5, 1597 a group of 26 priests and Japanese followers were executed by crucifixion in Nagaski. 

After Hideyoshi died, the Tokugawa Shogunate continued to enforce the ban on Christianity in Japan. Foreigners were relegated to the island of Dejima to stop the spread of Christianity. The Japanese Christians were forced underground in order to practice their faith. Eventually in the middle of the 19th century, Japan began to open up and Christianity became more accepted. In 1868, the 26 martyrs were canonized.  That's the short story.

Oura Cathedral 

To get to this beautiful old Catholic Church, you must walk up many steps. Photographs are not allowed to be taken inside. The 600 yen admission fee to enter the church was a little expensive, I thought.

Next to the Cathedral is the former divinity school. Inside is a musuem of Christian historical items, but no photos allowed inside.

Monument and Museum of 26 Martyrs 

The monument and museum are very close to the Nagasaki JR Station.  You have to walk uphill to get to the museum and the entry fee is 500 yen. The museum is dedicated to showing the history of Christianity in Japan, starting with the arrival of Francis Xavier. Inside the museum is a large exhibit area on the first floor and a smaller area upstairs.  There are collections of sacred items from the hidden Christians, old maps and manuscripts, and many old items related to Francis Xavier.

Photos were not allowed inside the museum, but outside was okay. The Pope visited in February 1981.


Beth in IL said...

Thanks for sharing what you could. It is interesting .

Anonymous said...

wow amazing thankyou for sharing these is so much to see and do in Japan Pamela,its great you are getting the chance to see so much xx

Queeniepatch said...

I wonder why the entry fees are so steep?

diamondc said...

Pamela: I like seeing history posts they make me want to know more.


Janie said...

More interesting history, you're going to be an expert soon. You could start leading tours.
Thanks for sharing.

Leonore Winterer said...

How interesting to know that Christianity is such a 'new' thing in Japan!