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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:15 AM   #1

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Christian Samurai


In what little reading I've done on historic Japan, I've come across surprisingly plentiful references to samurai who converted to Christianity under the influence of Portuguese missionaries.

What is known of these men - did their new faith put them in conflict with their society? Were any famous samurai or daimyos Christians?
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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:22 AM   #2

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Haven't seen it yet, but here's one short film about a famous Christian Samurai:

One article I've found concerning the matter too:
Quote:
The Portuguese brought Christianity to Japan in 1549 but 100 years later, when the Shogun started to fear that Christianity was a precursor to European imperialism, Japan began wiping out Christianity. They instituted a sort of Buddhist Inquisition, ferreting out Christians and making them renounce their faith by having them step on the cross or defile other Christian iconography. If they refused to renounce their faith, they were tortured or killed. This went on until 1637, when a rebellion of 37,000 Christians led by the most famous Christian in Japanese history, the samurai swordsman turned ronin, Amakusa Shiro, took on the Shogun's army at Harajo castle...

...The Tokugawa Shogunate had one Christian lord, daimyo Konishi Yukinaga. When Yukinaga was stripped of his title, his samurai became ronins and were exiled to become farmers in Southern Japan. The brutal daimyo Matsukura Shigeharu, who replaced Yukinaga, was ordered to wipe out Christianity. To make a long story short, during what was known as the Shimbara Rebellion, Shigeharu marched on these farmers with a vast army of samurai warriors and were met with great resistance by an army of peasants and ronins who were under the leadership of Jinbei's son Amakusa. Amakusa's battle cry was, "We would rather die one swift death than a thousand slow ones."

When asked how a samurai could become a Christian knowing full well that he could only serve one master the Shogun Shimahara says, "The priests were effective and exemplified many of the bushido traits of self-sacrifice and serving a master, their master being Christ. The Portuguese were passionate people able to make an arduous journey, and were focused and dedicated, traits that inspired the samurai. Also, there is evidence that many of the Christian samurai class or above took advantage of the situation because of trade knowing if they were Christian they would have an in with traders from Spain, Portugal and other European countries, so it was a motivating factor. There were earnest Christians, it was a new frontier and a new kind of thinking."
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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:51 AM   #3

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Here's a thread I started earlier on the subject:
http://www.historum.com/asian-histor...val-japan.html

Another famous Christian samurai, Takayama Ukon, is currently in the process of being canonised by the Catholic Church.

One thing to point out - the historical word for Christian, kirishitan, is no longer used for Christians in Japan. The modern word is kurisuchan (written in katakana).

Last edited by Naomasa298; May 25th, 2012 at 10:58 AM.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:56 AM   #4

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The ninjas took them out right?
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Old May 25th, 2012, 11:08 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloc View Post
One article I've found concerning the matter too:

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From your article:

Quote:
The Tokugawa Shogunate had one Christian lord, daimyo Konishi Yukinaga.
This isn't quite correct. Konishi was indeed a Christian, but was one of the five regents appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, not the Tokugawa. He fought against the Tokugawa during the battle of Sekigahara. In the aftermath of the battle, he was captured and due to his faith, refused to commit suicide (in common with other Christian samurai), so was executed. He wasn't, however, the only Christian daimyo amongst those on the Westerns side by any means. Josui Kuroda (whose son was on the other side) and Akashi Teruzumi were two other Christians on the Western side who I can think of off the top of my head - I'd have to look up other though.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 11:10 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasta View Post
The ninjas took them out right?
Don't make me start a ninjas vs Christians thread...
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Old May 25th, 2012, 11:19 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
From your article:



This isn't quite correct. Konishi was indeed a Christian, but was one of the five regents appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, not the Tokugawa. He fought against the Tokugawa during the battle of Sekigahara. In the aftermath of the battle, he was captured and due to his faith, refused to commit suicide (in common with other Christian samurai), so was executed. He wasn't, however, the only Christian daimyo amongst those on the Westerns side by any means. Josui Kuroda (whose son was on the other side) and Akashi Teruzumi were two other Christians on the Western side who I can think of off the top of my head - I'd have to look up other though.
I see. Well it's a not a historical source per se, but a martial arts one, so that may account for the inaccuracies. It was one source I could readily find on the matter.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 11:31 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
Don't make me start a ninjas vs Christians thread...
I thought I recall, that after Christianity was outlawed in Japan, one group of Christians held off in a fortress. The fortress was besieged by the Emperor, and among the besiegers were Iga.

Am I making this up?
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Old May 25th, 2012, 11:38 AM   #9

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Quote:
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I thought I recall, that after Christianity was outlawed in Japan, one group of Christians held off in a fortress. The fortress was besieged by the Emperor, and among the besiegers were Iga.

Am I making this up?
You're thinking of the Shimabara rebellion. I don't know about the presence of anyone from Iga, but it took place in Kyushu, whereas the province of Iga is in central Honshu. Almost all of the troops taking part were from Kyushu.

That doesn't mean there weren't ninjas present... after all, concealment is part of the art of the ninja.

Shimabara_Rebellion Shimabara_Rebellion

The fortress wasn't beseiged by the Emperor though - by that time, they had long since stopped participating in war and politics.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 11:40 AM   #10

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Two well known Daimyo that converted to Christianity where Ōtomo Sōrin and Kuroda Kanbei.

In Kanbei's case, being Christian didn't seem to affect his standing in any way, He even was a very close friend with the very anti Christian Hideyoshi.

While he never converted himself, Date Masamune was very symphafetic toward Christians and his daughter was said to have converted.
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