Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Catholic

by Kazuo - Japan Licensed Guide
(2) Reviews

1. Pat and Joke in Kamakura

  If you visit Kamakura, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is indispensable as the most popular tourist site in Kamakura. After visiting a main hall, you can go to Shirahata Shrine, going down a slope of left side. It was devoted to Minamoto Yoritomo(1147 - 1199).  He established the first Shogunate in 1185, beating Taira clan, which dominated the Emperor's court. He took the first Shogun and transferred the capital from Kyoto to Kamakura, which had been a small fishing village. In Shito, some people are deitified and worshipped. His wife Masako founded the shrine to worship him. The architecture has a solemn appearance with black color base and gold in some parts. It matches his status.  In the shrine, his sitting statue was housed then. 

  Later, Japan entered to a civil war period of 100 years. At last Toyotomi Hideyoshi(1537 - 1598) united Japan in 1582. His significance in a history is a preparation for next Tokugawa Shogunate, which was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and lasted 260 years.  He looked around unified Japan. One day, he visited this shrine.

  Hideyoshi faced the statue and said laughing, “Although you and I are both hero who seized allover Japan, we are different. While you are a person of noble birth, I had started as one soldier.” Then he patted a shoulder of the statue.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Catholic

     A Sitting Statue of Minamoto Yoritomo, Tokyo National Museum 


2.  Hideyoshi and Catholic

   It was the era of discovery for European. Portuguese Catholic missionary were propagating Christianity also in Japan. Believer increased up to 150 thousand in 30 years including some local lords. One day, Hideyoshi visited a church in Osaka. A priest, Gregorio de Céspedes, showed their church and social activities, such as a home for orphans, hospital and school. Hideyoshi was deeply impressed and said, “I would have become a believer in Christianity, if there were not the 9th of Catholic Ten Commandments.” And he patted the father's shoulder laughing. The 9th was “You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.”
  It was his sure pleasure. All of his vassals are afraid of his requirement, because they must offer one's wife or their own head.


3. Hidden Christian as UNESCO World Heritage 

   Later Hideyoshi prohibited Christianity in 1587. It was a beginning of long ban period during nearly 300 years. Succeeding Tokugawa Shogunate strengthened it. Believers were required to give up one's faith or death penalty. In spite of such a cruel situation, some people in far west Japan kept their faith as hidden Christians. After Tokugawa Shogunate collapsed, the ban was canceled in 1872. Then hidden Christians disclosed their faiths. But the style of the faith became quite different from initially transmitted form to their own way in this long years. Such culture was designated as World Heritage “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region” by UNESCO in 2018. You can see in Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu.


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