【Japan and Portugal: Old Christians in Japan】Beautiful stories from far away From Japan
2023-05-18 ｜ TOSHI
❙From Japan, Portugal is a very far country. But…
Dear followers and readers, how are you? I’m TOSHI, a Japanese woman.
From Japan, Portugal is a very far country.
If you want to go there, you have to leave the island country of Japan and go to the very edge of the continent, edge of Europe.
Nevertheless, do you know that there is an interesting connection between the two?
The person who brought Christianity to Japan for the first time was a missionary named “Francisco de Xavier”. He was born in Spain and the request of the King of Portugal, he went to Goa ,India, from Lisbon. Then he came to Japan in 1549.
It is said that the encounter with a Japanese person was the reason.
At that time, Japan was in the Warring States (Sengoku)period. Some of the daimyo became Christians.
However, as the times changed, Christians began to be persecuted. Repression, martyrdom and rebellion took place.
❙“Silence” by Shusaku Endo
There is a Japanese novel written on the theme of the agony of a Portuguese priest in Japan at that time.
It is a novel titled “Silence” by Shusaku Endo（『沈黙』遠藤周作）.
This book has been translated abroad and made into a movie by Martin Scorsese, so some of you may know it.
Shusaku Endo is an excellent writer, and I have read many of his works.
❙Christianity was banned in Japan for a long time, then
After that, Christianity was banned in Japan for a long time, but some people practiced it for hundreds of years in secret and without a leader.
As such, these kind of old Japanese Christian’s culture is very unique (closeness is, for better or worse, a major feature of Japanese culture and a source of uniqueness), and has attracted attention in recent years.
For hundreds of years without a leader, the prayers and songs they chanted are called “Orasho(oratio)オラショ.”
They passed it on by word of mouth, by oral tradition.
It is said that※ one of the “Orasho” was sung orally, for 450 years, and the original song was sung in the Vatican in recent years.
Reference ※Christian Today 隠れキリシタン口伝の祈り歌「オラショ」原曲 今年もバチカン国際音楽祭のミサで披露
It is said that some of the food introduced by the Portuguese are still popular in Japan. It is said Tempura’s original dish was came from Portugal.
When I went to Portugal, I was told that the word ‘ARIGATO’ means thank you in Japan came from the Portuguese word ‘obligado’. But I don’t buy it.
Also, Portuguese cuisine has a reputation for being a hit with the Japanese palate. They eat both rice and fish, and my personal impression is that the food is relatively light and I like it.
❙My phantom memories in Macau
Also, I had a strange experience.
Before Corona, I traveled to Macau. Macau was a former Portuguese territory.
There are the remains of a Great Cathedral there, the remains of St. Paul’s Cathedral .
While I was there a man asked me,
“Are you Japanese? I’ll show you the bones of Japanese Christian martyrs.”
So he opened a door that is normally closed to the public.
I was astonished. Indeed it was over hundreds of years , the stories of Japanese martyrs can only be found in history books. And I did not know their bones exist, in abroad.
I think I heard of their names, name of the martyrs too.
Their bodies were taken to Macau and they still sleep there today.
I felt like I had met them despite the hundreds of year between us.
In Japan, there is an idea that bones hold a person’s soul.
I thought maybe they wanted to see their fellow Japanese in their eternal slumber.
It was such an unexpected event that I wondered if it was just an illusion.
By the way, some of Xavier’s bones are also in Macau.
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