The History of Christianity in Japan(Sejarah Agama kristen Di Jepang)













Showroom :

The Driwan’s  Cybermuseum


(Museum Duniamaya Dr Iwan)


Dr Iwan Japanese Historic Collections

“The History of Christianity in Japanese”

Frame one:

Hundreds of Roman Catholics on their way to exile in Japan!

Group portrait of a woman in a kago, two bearers and a man using a carrying pole, Japan (Felice Beato, between 1863 and 1877)

Some nine months later, Mr. Ensor saw hundreds of Roman Catholics being driven by his house on their way to exile. He says that one night when in an almost despairing frame of mind because of the opposition that was being shown towards Christianity:

“I was sitting by myself in my study and heard in the darkness a knock at the door. I went myself to answer it, and standing between the palm trees of my gate, I saw the dark figure of an armed Japanese. He paused a moment, and I beckoned him to enter: and he came in and sat down, and I asked him what his business was. He replied: ‘ A few days ago I had a copy of the Bible in my hands, and I wish to be a Christian.’ I said: ‘ Are you a stranger in these parts? Don’t you know that thousands of your people are being detained as prisoners for this?’ ‘Yes,’ he said, I know. Last night I came to your gate and as I stood there thinking of the terrible step I was about to take, fear overpowered me and I returned. But there stood by me in the night one who came to me in my dreams and said I was to go to the house of the missionary, and nothing would happen to me, and I have come.’ And drawing his long sword, he held it up to me in a form signifying the Japanese oath, and promised that he would ever keep true to me, and I received him.”

This man was afterwards baptised by the name of Titus; “for God,” says Mr. Ensor,” who comforteth those who are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus.”

Though the persecutions inaugurated by the Imperial Government were directed chiefly against the Roman Catholics, persons who were becoming interested in the teaching of the Protestant missionaries were not free from danger. In Nagasaki a young man named Futagawa Ito had feigned an interest in Christianity with the design of assassinating Mr. Ensor, from whom he requested instruction. The story of Christ’s love made so deep an   impression upon him that he soon came to believe what he had once hated. He became Mr. Ensor’s assistant, and in 1870 was helping in the printing of a tract, when he suddenly disappeared. He had been arrested on a nominal charge of having transgressed a regulation concerning the wearing of swords; but in reality because of his connection with Christianity, as was evident from the fact that he was offered his liberty if he would renounce that religion. After a while he was sent to his native province. About his neck was fastened an iron collar to which were attached five chains. These were used to secure him in his cell, and on the road each chain was held by a soldier. On his arrival at his native village his relatives were in great distress at thought of the horrible crime he had committed. His mother for several days refused to eat any food. His sister, who had been married to a priest, was divorced. The villagers came to gaze at him through the openings of the cage in which he was confined, and to talk about the way in which he ought to be punished. After some time spent in the prison of the prefectural capital, he was taken to Tokyo. Throughout the journey he was confined in a small kago, which was something like a box carried by poles that rested on the shoulders of coolies. There was not room in it for him to lie down, and the top was so low that he could not sit upright. Food was given to him through a small opening in the side of the box. Only once was he allowed to get out from his narrow cell. This was at Osaka, where he was permitted to take a bath; but all the time his chains were held by five men, who also had drawn swords to cut him down if any attempt was made to escape. Mr. Ensor, who on account of ill health had been obliged to return to England before anything had been learned about Futagawa, tells us that after a while, “Like Joseph, he found favour in the sight of the keeper of the gaol, and by-and-by, though still a prisoner himself, he was set over the other prisoners and made the keeper of the dungeon. He began to speak to those around him of the Saviour or whose sake he was bound and incarcerated. The magistrates as well as the prisoners listened to him, and treated him with great kindness; so, like St. Paul at Rome, he preached Christ from his prison, and there were between seven and eight hundred men who heard from him the Gospel, and out of these not fewer than seventy or eighty began themselves to study the Word of God.”

Fukuzawa appears on the 10,000 yen banknote engraved by Oshikiri Katsuzō.

The American Minister finally secured the prisoner’s release. The officials at first made some objection to the removal of the iron collar; but the eminent scholar, Fukuzawa Yukichi, always fertile in expedients, brought a physician, who ordered its removal for the sake of health.

FrAme Two:

Mr. and Mrs. Carrothers of the Presbyterian Mission.

Dr. Verbeck in his “Historical Sketch ” considered that the first school to deserve the name of a distinctly missionary institute was one begun in Tokyo about 1869, by Mr. and Mrs. Carrothers of the Presbyterian Mission. Among the pupils were a few girls, and as these increased in number, it was thought best to form them into a separate school. One student who was about to be left with the young men came to Mrs. Carrothers to say that she was a girl and had been wearing boy’s clothing on account of the popular prejudice against boys and girls studying together.

Yokoi Shōnan (横井小楠?, September 22, 1809 – February 15, 1869); was a Bakumatsu and early Meiji period scholar and political reformer in Japan, influential around the fall of the Tokugawa bakufu. His real name was Yokoi Tokiari.

Among the men who had been prominent in favouring intercourse with foreigners was Yokoi Heishiro, a trusted counsellor of the Daimyo of Echizen. Soon after Perry’s visit to Japan, he had become a great admirer of America, and in 1866 had sent two of his nephews to the United States for education. From missionaries in Shanghai he had obtained a copy of the Bible in Chinese, and had been much impressed by its contents. He wrote to a friend : ” In a few years Christianity will come to Japan and capture the hearts of the best young men.” He urged that men should be left free to follow whatever religion seemed to them true. At the time of the Restoration he became a counsellor of the Emperor. In February, 1869, when returning from the Palace, he was assassinated. The reason given for this act was that he was suspected of harboring ” evil opinions,” meaning Christianity.

An interesting sequel to this account of Yokoi is given in Dr. A. D. Hail’s “Japan and Its Rescue.” Years after the assassination, a prayer-meeting was being held in the town of Shingu preparatory to the coming observance of the Lord’s Supper. A lumberman who had come from a place forty miles distant among the mountains said, after several had confessed their sins: ‘ I, too, have a confession to make. Before I became a Christian I used to be intensely angry towards anyone who was even suspected of being a Christian. Having heard that a prominent man in Japan had some English books in his possession and a Chinese Bible,

I felt that he must be a believer in Christianity. Many others, also, thought as I did. Twenty-four of us accordingly covenanted together .to kill this man. We watched our opportunity, and having heard that he had come to Kyoto, we divided ourselves into squads of six and placed one squad in each road along one of which we knew he must leave the palace. I was not in the squad which slew him. When we heard, however, that the deed had been accomplished and that two of the attacking party had also been killed, we all^ separated and ran away. I never knew what became of the various members of the band of twenty four. A neighbour of mine and I went to the place where we now live and have been there ever since. Now, according to the rules of Old Japan (pointing to the Christian worker that accompanied Dr. Hail), it would be that brother’s duty to take my life, as he is a nephew and so a very near relative of the murdered man. It was before I knew Christ that I could contemplate such an act I believe God has forgiven me, and I ask forgiveness of all.”

He sat down weeping, and there was a time of general and deep feeling. The nephew then said: ” I know that according to our old ideas I should be regarded as unfaithful and unfilial if I did not attempt at all hazards to take the life of the brother who has just spoken. But I know that what he did was done in ignorance of Christ and His Gospel. I, too, have been a great sinner; but have obtained mercy and am taught to forgive as I would be forgiven, and through Christ’s grace I forgive. The next day these two sat down together, with all the brethren, at the communion table.

Frame Three:

January, 1868, Power was restored to the Emperor!

The Meiji Emperor (明治天皇, Meiji-tennō?) (3 November 1852 – 30 July 1912) or Meiji the Great was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death. He presided over a time of rapid change in Japan, as the nation rose from a feudal shogunate to become a world power.

January, 1868, saw the great revolution by which political power was restored to the Emperor, and a new form of government inaugurated. In May, the American Minister received a set of official gazettes, whose publication had been commenced in Kyoto. They were numbered from one to nine, with the exception that the sixth number was lacking. As this excited curiosity, a copy of the missing number was obtained and was found to contain the following law, which was to be posted with certain others in all the towns and villages, replacing similar laws of the Shogunate.

“The evil sect called Christian is strictly prohibited. Suspicious persons should be reported to the proper officers, and rewards will be given.”

The foreign representatives at once remonstrated against this edict, saying that, while they had no desire to interfere with the internal affairs of Japan, they could not remain indifferent to an act that cast such opium upon the religion of the nations from which they came, the publication of such an ordinance at such a time being inconsistent with the friendly feelings professed by the new Government.

The Japanese ministers replied by referring to the strong feeling that the people had against Christianity because of the troubles to which it had given rise in former years. It was generally supposed, they said, that its followers practise various magical rites connected with foxes and other objects of superstitious dread. While it was impossible to prevent men from believing whatever seemed to them true, it was necessary to prevent the open profession of Christianity and the performance of its rites. If the Government failed to prohibit Christianity, it would be accused of favouring it. They acknowledged that the insertion of the word ” evil ” was ill-advised, and issued new orders saying: “In sending out the edict concerning Christianity there was unfortunately a mistake in the wording. This arose from the fact that in past times there had been the strict prohibition of Christianity and also of evil sects. The ordinance must at once be corrected so as to read:

“The former prohibition of the Christian sect must be strictly observed.

“Evil sects are strictly prohibited.”

As a Japanese writer has said, “This was a very strange order. What was the mistake? Was it in calling Christianity an evil sect? If Christianity is not evil, why should it be prohibited?” The reason for the amendment not being clear, the edict in many places was left in its first form.

Frame Four:

Prayer Meeting in Yokohama in 1866!

A 1634 Japanese Red seal ship, during the Edo period

In 1866, there was sent forth from Yokohama the following address:

“Yokohama, Japan, 14th Jan., 18661.

”Brethren in Christ:

“A little company of believers of several nationalities residing here have for the last seven days been observing the concert for prayer with you of other lands, and whilst assembled this evening to supplicate the throne of grace in behalf of this heathen nation it was unanimously resolved to appoint a committee to issue an address to God’s people throughout the world, asking their prayers in a special manner for Japan.

“In order that the ground of this request may be better understood, permit us succinctly to state the circumstances in which we find ourselves here at the present time. There are now Protestant missionaries representing three or four branches of the Church of Christ in this country. Two of these are at Nagasaki and the remainder at this port. Most of these have been here since 1859, or more than six years. They see marked changes in many things since their arrival.

“At first, the prejudice and suspicion of the rulers of this country led them, for some time, frequently to send posses of officers to the houses of the missionaries, ostensibly as friends calling upon friends, but really as spies, to find out for what object these non-trading people had come to Japan. But for more than three years past, such domiciliary visits have entirely ceased. The first decisive symptom of the abatement of suspicions on the part of the Government was the sending of about a dozen young men of rank from Yedo to Kanagawa to be taught English by one of the missionaries. More recently the Governors of Nagasaki and this place authorized schools to be opened for a similar purpose under their auspices, and the Protestant missionaries were invited to take charge of them. ‘One missionary at Nagasaki has, during the last year, devoted three or four hours a day to the school there. The school at Yokohama has over fifty members, and for more than two years past, three and sometimes four of the missionaries have been engaged in it, teaching an hour or two each day. A large supply of American school-books has been imported by the Governor for this school, and the teachers have in no wise been restricted as to the manner or matter of their teaching. Through the use of these foreign school-books more or less of Christian truth is almost daily brought into contact with the minds of the pupils, and has been freely made the subject of explanation and remark in classes. The effect of this is manifest in the unhesitating manner in which the pupils make enquiries and seek information on religious subjects, and in the frequent expression given to Christian facts and doctrines in their school exercise. Four years ago, when copies of a book entitled the ‘ Christian Reader ‘ were bought of a missionary by some young men who were desirous to learn English, they at once erased the word * Christian ‘ from the title-page and cover, for fear that it would be noticed by others and bring them into trouble. Now a considerable number of those who have been under instruction have purchased copies of the Scriptures for their own use. In the schoolrooms and in our houses there is no reluctance to speak, and men do speak from day to day, of God, of Christ, and Christianity. The name of Jesus is no longer uttered with bated breath. Some of the wives of missionaries also have interesting classes of Japanese boys under their instruction in English, with great success.

“A medical missionary has a dispensary thronged with patients from day to day, where the Ten Commandments and passages of Scripture in Japanese are hung upon the walls and read by the patients.

Folding screen depicting scenes of the attendance of daimyo at Edo Castle in 1847.Hasuike-Tatsumi-Sanjū-yagura is at the center,Kikyō-mon (the inner Sakurada-mon) on the right side. Signs alongside the moat are written with the words “geba” (dismount). The attending daimyo were required to reduce their number of attendants before entering the inner castle compound. Signs with the family names of each entourage identify them (counting from the right side the first panel) from the Okayama Domain, Fukuoka Domain (fourth panel), Kurume Domain (fifth panel), Tottori Domain (sixth panel), Satsuma and Izumo Domains (seventh panel) and the Sendai Domain (eighth panel).

“Again, the Gorojiu or Council of State at Yedo is now making arrangements to erect extensive buildings in that city for a school in which some hundred young men of the higher classes are to be taught in English and a French department, and the Protestant missionaries have been requested to take charge of the former.

These facts will enable you to see to what extent the Japanese have come to repose confidence in the missionaries. Meantime the members of the several missions have applied themselves to the study of Japanese, endeavouring to make their labours in this direction available to those who may come after them, by publishing works for this purpose, and a Japanese-English Dictionary containing some 40,000 words is now nearly ready for the press. Most, if not all of them, have for a good while past been at work upon the translation of the Bible, so that, by a few months of co-operative labour, they would be ready to publish at least the four Gospels in Japanese.

“Contrary to the general expectations, it has been found that the Japanese generally do not entertain a feeling of hostility to foreigners, nor are they bigoted in religious matters. They even pride themselves upon being less stiff and more liberal in the latter respect than the Chinese. Those who belong to the class called samurai, who alone are eligible to civil or military office, manifest much eagerness to gain a knowledge of Western languages, sciences, and arts. Some of those who have been or are now studying English are in the habit of going daily to the missionaries’ houses, in groups of from two to three to six or seven, to read the English Bible, preferring this to the study of school-books. These intelligent young men frequently express their earnest desire that the day may soon come when all their countrymen shall have the Holy Scriptures and the free political institutions of which they are the basis. They despise the Buddhist creed and the Buddhist priest “One of the first teachers employed by the missionaries in 1860 recently died in the assurance that he was about to be with Jesus. He had, at his own request, been baptised in his own house and in the presence of his own family, with their full consent. Thus the first fruit of the Gospel in Japan, at least in our time, has been gathered into the chamber of God.

Here, then, we are, in the presence of this great heathen population, estimated by themselves to number 32,000,000 and you may ask: ‘What hinders the Gospel from being freely and publicly preached?’ This is the question that presses us at this moment and urges us to ask your prayers for this people.

“This Government is in some respects a strong one. In consequence of what occurred with the Jesuits and monks of former times it took the most stringent measures to efface the very name of Christian (Kiristan) as that of a crafty usurper from the memory of its subjects, or else to make it the symbol of whatever is dangerous and detestable. Unfortunately the Jesuits did not leave the Bible in Japan when they were banished from the country, else the condition of things here now might have borne more resemblance to that in Madagascar. But now, every man, woman, and child must be registered at some Buddhist or Shinto temple, or be denied a decent burial. Thus every Japanese is in the grasp of an iron hand, the hand of the Government.

There is no evidence that the old edicts against Christians have been revoked; no proclamation from the Government as yet assures the people that they would not be treated as criminals worthy of the death-penalty, should they be suspected of favouring the Christian religion. The missionary might or might not suffer from the offence of preaching, but his hearers would. Here then we hesitate, and desire to know the divine will and our duty. We would neither be cowardly nor rash. We call upon our brethren in Christ to pray that this last obstacle may be removed,— that the Treaty Powers represented in Japan may be inclined to do what Christian governments ought to do in this behalf,— that the spirit of God may move the rulers of Japan to proclaim liberty to their subjects, liberty to hear and read the word of God» — and thus that speedily these everlasting doors may be lifted up and the King of Glory may come in. May we not hope that those whom this address reaches will remember this object in their families, and closets, and meetings for prayer, and that it will be especially inserted among the subjects forming the program for the Week of Prayer in the opening of the year 1867?”

One result of this address was that great interest was aroused among supporters of the Church Missionary Society of England. One person, who withheld his name, sent to the Society a contribution of four thousand pounds to form the nucleus of a special fund for Japan, and three years after the address was issued, the Society sent out its first representative. Rev. George Ensor, who arrived at Nagasaka in January, 1869.

Frame Five:

First Baptism’s: Yano Riuzan and Murata Wakasa and Ayabe in Nagasaki! (May 1866)


Yokohama Kaigan Kyokai(Church) was founded on March 10.1872, as the first Protestant church for the Japanese in this country. At the time of its establishment, it inherited the faith and tradition of the Reformed Church and Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The first pastor was Rev. J.H.Ballagh, who arrived in Yokohama with his wife in 1861 as one of the earliest Christian missionaries, after studying at Rutgers College and New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

In November, 1864, occurred the first recorded baptism on Japanese soil of a Protestant Christian. Rev. J. H. Ballagh has given the following account of this person. (* Missionary Herald, 1864, p. 6g.)

Yano Riuzan, a shaven-headed Buddhist, a yabu-isha or quack doctor, who held an inferior position, was selected by the Shogun’s Council of State for a language teacher for Dr. S. R. Brown. On my arrival on November 9nth, 1861, he became my teacher. With him I undertook the translation of St John, more to translate the Gospel into him than for the use of others. In the summer of 1864 he became quite weak. I was impressed with a failure of duty and asked him if he would be willing for me to seek a blessing upon our translation. On his consenting, I made my first impromptu Japanese prayer, which seemed to impress him much and which made a remarkable impression on me.

One day, while explaining a picture of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, he suddenly said to me : ‘ I want to be baptized ; I want to be baptized because Christ commanded it’ I warned him of the law against Christianity and the fact that, even should he escape, his son might not The son, being consulted, said that whatever would please his father should be done On the first Sabbath in November his baptism took place in the presence of his wife, son, and daughter.’

The next baptisms were those of Murata Wakasa and Ayabe in Nagasaki, May, 1866. The story of their conversion sounds like a romance. Wakasa was born in 1815, and on reaching manhood became a minister {karo) of the Daimyo of Saga. He was a man of unusual stature; his grandson asserts that he was seven feet in height and therefore was obliged to have a house made especially for him, since he was so much inconvenienced by the low rooms of ordinary Japanese buildings. When, in 1855, some French and English vessels anchored in the bay of Nagasaki, Wakasa was put in charge of a patrol appointed to watch the movements of the foreign ships. One day he noticed something floating upon the water and sent one of his men to pick it up.

Nabeshima Naomasa (鍋島 直正?, January 16, 1815 – March 8, 1871) was the 10th and final daimyō of Saga Domain in Hizen Province, Kyūshū, Japan. His honorary title was Hizen-no-Kami, and he was occasionally referred to as “Prince Hizen” in western accounts during the Bakumatsu period.

It proved to be a book printed in some unknown language. After Wakasa’s return to Saga, he became so curious to know what was in the book that he sent one of his retainers to Nagasaki, professedly to study medicine, but really to inquire about the contents of the book. He thus discovered that it was a Dutch translation of the New Testament, the book on which the religion of Europeans was founded * A while after, he learned that a Chinese translation of the book had been made, and he therefore sent a man to Shanghai to purchase a copy. With four other persons, one of whom was his younger brother, Ayabe, he then began an earnest study of the book. In the autumn of 1862, Ayabe went to Nagasaki to see if any of the foreigners there could explain some portions that had been difficult to understand. While there he met Dr. Verbeck, who gladly answered his questions. The following spring, Ayabe again appeared and warned Dr. Verbeck that the latter’s life was in danger, as a company of young men had formed a conspiracy for assassinating him. In consequence of this warning Dr. Verbeck found it advisable to withdraw with his family to China for a few months. On his return to Nagasaki he found that Ayabe had received an appointment that removed him to another part of the country; but soon after this, Wakasa sent one of his servants, named Motono, with a new set of questions. Dr. Verbeck now became, though in a round-about way, the teacher of the little Bible-class, for Motono would frequently come from Saga, a journey occupying about two days, bringing a list of questions to which answers were desired, and after receiving Dr. Verbeck’s explanations would return with them to Saga.

In May, 1866, Dr. Verbeck was informed that some high officials from the province of Hizen (in which Saga is situated) desired to come in two parties to meet him. He writes:

“Accordingly, on the afternoon of the fifteenth of May, my visitor presented himself with a retinue of about thirty men, consisting of a number of attendant officers who quite filled my parlour, and of a greater number of common retainers, all two- s worded, who had to content themselves with an outside view of our premises. . . . My principal visitor proved to be no less a personage than a relative of the Prince of Hizen. . . . After the usual introductory compliments, the absorbing topic of the ‘ Doctrine’ was entered upon with a good deal of interest. I may say that I reasoned with him of ‘ righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come/ but I could hardly brine him and his attendant to dwell on the higher topics of faith, hope, and love; for my august visitor insisted on reasoning concerning the unprofitable subjects of the origin of evil in the world, the mysterious permission of the continuance of evil, the justice of God or the apparent want of it under various aspects, and more of the like. I was prepared for his arguments, as I have found that on heathen ground we are often obliged to rehandle the bones of contention of the church of old, but my principal endeavour was to get him to see the wickedness and danger of all evil; that it is infinitely more important to know how to be now and forever saved from it than to know all about its origin and yet be left helpless; that it is vastly more worthy of our thought to know how we are to escape hell and gain heaven than to find out the exact location of either, if such a thing were possible. Yet my efforts to lead him to higher views at the time were vain. . . . “The interview of the other parties was arranged to take place on the seventeenth of May. My visitors on this occasion were Wakasa, one of the ministers of state or governors of the principality of Hizen, and his younger brother Ayabe. Wakasa was a tall man, about forty-five years of age and looking older: His is one of those faces that make sunshine in a shady place, most pleasing and amiable in expression, with a very dignified bearing, his eyes beamed love and pleasure as I met him He said he had long known me in his mind, had long desired to see and converse with me, and that he was very happy that now in God’s providence he was permitted to do so. . . .

Ranald MacDonald (3 February 1824 – August 24, 1894) was the first man to teach the English language in Japan, including educating Einosuke Moriyama, one of the chief interpreters to handle the negotiations between Commodore Perry and the Tokugawa Shogunate.

“At this time there were admitted to our parlor Wakasa, Ayabe, Wakasa’s two sons, young men of twenty and twenty-two respectively, and the servant, Motono, who had acted the part of messenger between us for four years. How different was this meeting from that of two days before! These men like those of Berea in the Apostles time, had received the Word with all readiness of mind and did not come to puzzle themselves or me with unprofitable controversies, but asked several quite natural  and sensible questions to gain additional light on some points in reference principally to Christian character and customs. They had been taught of the Spirit.

“They showed great familiarity with their Bibles, made several pertinent quotations, and when during the conversation I referred them to sacred passages, they readily identified them and always accepted them as conclusive proofs. They were prepared to believe all that Jesus said and to do all that He required. It must be remembered that these men had been studying the Scriptures and reading a great variety of religious books with great diligence for at least four years, having begun to do so with a favorable disposition of mind. Like perhaps most of the higher classes in this country, they had no faith in Buddhism, the religion of the common people, while at the same time they were graciously with-held from falling into the opposite of a total atheism. Their minds were in a state of expectant transition when, just in time, they were led to search for and find salvation through faith in Christ.

“We spent a delightful afternoon in conversing on the saving power and love of Christ, and just as I thought my friends were about to leave me, Wakasa took me by surprise by inquiring if I would object to baptizing him and his brother Ayabe before they left town. I was surprised because so many Japanese had at different times talked to me of the great peril of becoming Christians in the full sense of the word. I had expected from these men to hear something as follows: “We believe and would like to be baptized; but we cannot think of realizing our wish in this one particular so long as the law of the land hangs the inevitable sword over the heads of all who dare to change their religion; for the present we must remain as we are, but when this cruel edict is repealed, we will come forward for baptism”

“I warned my visitors not to think lightly of the act and not to entertain superstitious notions concerning its efficacy. I urged the solemn importance of the sacrament and the great obligations which devolve on those to whom it is administered; I repeated the questions which, according to our form, they would have to answer with a hearty affirmative; and finally told them to decide, as if in the presence of God who searches the heart. They listened attentively and repeated their desire to be baptized, requesting only that it should be done and kept in secret.

“The following Lord’s Day, the Day of Pentecost [May 20], was chosen, the hour selected being seven o’clock, p. m. Wakasa, whose position did not permit him to move about the streets without a half-dozen followers, and who could not visit me without making himself conspicuous, I did not see again until the appointed hour on Sunday night; but Ayabe came to me twice during the intervening days, and I gave him such instructions for himself and his brother as I thought might be useful to them.

Moriyama Einosuke (森山栄之助?, 1820 – 1872) was a samurai during the Tokugawa Shogunate, and an interpreter of Dutch and English. He studied English under Ranald MacDonald, and as “Chief Dutch Interpreter” was one of the chief men involved in the negotiations with Commodore Perry in regard to the opening of Japan to the outside world.

“At last, when the Sabbath evening came, the two candidates presented themselves, attended into the room by none but Motono. The retinue, consisting of eight followers, was dismissed at our door with orders to return in an hour. I had arranged everything beforehand to avoid unnecessary detention. The shutters were closed; the lamps lit, a white cloth spread on the centre-table, a large cut-glass fruit-dish, for want of anything better, prepared to serve as a font. Besides Motono, my wife was the only witness present, so that there were but five persons in the room. I began by reading Matthew twenty-eight, then dwelt on the concluding verses, spoke of the purpose of missionary societies, and referred to the bearing of the words of Jesus upon our present meeting. I exhorted them not to be discouraged in their peculiarly difficult situation, but rather, by a life of faith, of love, and of holiness, to disarm all the criticism of their neighbors and even persecution itself. We then united in prayer both in English and Japanese, proceeded with our liturgy, translating ex tempore the form for baptism; and after the administration of the sacrament, concluded with prayer and thanksgiving.”

On reaching home, Wakasa and Ayabe reported to their Daimyo what they had done. He left them unmolested. In some way Wakasa’s conversion became known to the Central Government, and the Daimyo was ordered to punish him. Nothing was done, however, except to burn some of Wakasa’s books.

Soon after this Dr. Verbeck removed to Tokyo, and thus had no more direct dealings with Wakasa. The latter soon retired from active life to his country villa, where he spent much of his time in translating the Bible from Chinese into Japanese. He died in 1874, with a firm faith in his Savior.

Though it is in anticipation of our narrative, it may be well here to give some further intelligence of Wakasa’s family. In 1880, Rev. Mr. Booth of Nagasaki noticed in his audience on Sunday morning two strangers, one of whom was evidently a woman of high rank. They gave close attention to his address, and their eyes often filled with tears. At the close of the service they introduced themselves, one being Wakasa’s daughter and the other her former nurse. They had learned from Wakasa the Lord’s Prayer and some other portions of Scripture that he had written out for them in simple characters.

The daughter had married and was living in Nagasaki; but she was acquainted with no Christians there. She was about to remove with her husband to Osaka, and desired to receive baptism before going there. Therefore, she had sent to Saga for her old nurse, and they had attempted to find some Christian teacher. They at first fell in with a Roman Catholic priest, who gave them a prayer-book; but on examination, its teaching did not seem to them like that which they had before received.

They were afraid to make inquiries, fearing that they would be insulted as suspected followers of Christianity. After wandering about the city for some days, they saw a shop where the characters on the covers of the books seemed familiar. On opening one volume, they found the Sermon on the Mount, and recognized its words. They purchased several books and had a long talk with the bookseller, who, as it was Saturday, told them where they could find a Christian service the next day.

As both asked for baptism, Mr. Booth asked their reason for desiring it. ”’Whosever believeth and is baptized shall be saved,’ “they quoted. When he said: “How can I know that you are true believers?” the younger woman replied: *’it has been my custom for years to go into my husband’s storehouse every day for private meditation and prayer to God and the Father of Jesus Christ.” “How do you know that this salvation is for you?” “It is written: ‘ Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.*” After some days had been spent in instructing the women, the rite was administered. The younger woman’s husband was present, paying close attention to the service and afterwards expressing a desire to know more about Christianity.

The nurse soon returned to Saga, where she resumed her work of teaching a small school for girls. She also organized a Bible-class for women, and its members soon became the teachers of a Sunday school. Though she is no longer living, the influence of her work still remains in Saga. Among the believers there was a son of Wakasa. The daughter, who removed to Osaka and later to Tokyo, became prominent in religious and philanthropic work. Her husband also became a Christian.

At the close of a meeting held in Tokyo about 1883, a man stepped forward and said to Dr. Verbeck: “I am Ayabe. Since my baptism I have been in the army and also employed in surveying. During all these years I have always carried the Bible with me, and I have been accustomed to read it daily.” The next day he came with his only daughter, about fifteen years old, asking that she be baptized. At one time he was a local preacher in the Methodist Church.

Frame Six :

Missionary Conference held at Osaka in 1883!

Griffis with a group of his students.

In a historical sketch prepared for the Missionary Conference held at Osaka in 1883, Dr. Verbeck quoted as follows from various reports that described the conditions under which the early missionaries labored:

“The missionaries soon found that they were regarded with great suspicion and closely watched, and all intercourse with them was conducted under strict surveillance.”

“No teacher could be obtained at Kanagawa until March, 1860, and then only a spy in the employment of the Government. A proposal to translate the Scriptures caused his frightened withdrawal.”

” The efforts of the missionaries for several years, owing to the surveillance exercised by the Government, were mostly confined to the acquisition of the language.”

“We found the natives not at all accessible touching religious matters. When such a subject was mooted in the presence of a Japanese, his hand would almost involuntarily be applied to his throat, to indicate the extreme perilousness of such a topic. If on such an occasion more than one happened to be present, the natural shyness of these people became, if possible, still more apparent; for you will remember that there was then little confidence between man and man, chiefly owing to the abominable system of secret espionage, which we found in full swing when we first arrived and, indeed, for several years after.”

“The missionaries shared with the other foreign residents in the alarms incident to a disturbed state of the country, and were sometimes exposed to insult and even to assault.”

“The swaggering samurai armed with two swords, cast many a scowling look at the hated foreigners, whom they would gladly have expelled from their sacred soil.”

At first it was the common impression that the Japanese language could be easily learned. It was afterwards found to be one of the most difficult in the world. The colloquial language differs much from that used in books. The civilization of old Japan came largely from China and with it came the Chinese ideographs and a large number of words. Speaking roughly, it may be said that it was necessary to learn two ancient Chinese dialects in addition to the original Japanese language. The use of the ideographs was, indeed, a help to those who had learned them in China, while to others they added greatly to the difficulties of study. Dr. Hepburn has said that at first the only help possessed by the missionaries in the way of books was the vocabulary translated from the Dutch by Dr. Medhurst. After a while Hoffman’s Grammar of the Japanese language was sent to them, a few leaves at a time. No teachers could be obtained, and so new words were picked up from servants, carpenters, visitors, and others. After a year, a man offered to teach Japanese in exchange for instruction in English. When, however, the translation of Matthew was begun, the man, after completing the first chapter, refused to do any more, saying that it would cost him his life.

Townsend Harris had the US Legation relocate at the Zenpuku-ji Temple from 1859, following the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Townsend Harris had the US Legation relocate at the Zenpuku-ji Temple from 1859, following the Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

Townsend Harris, who was now the United States Minister, continued to show a deep interest in Christian work. Dr. W. A. P. Martin, the well-known missionary in China, who visited Japan in 1859, wrote: ” Mr. Harris received of me more than one hundred geographies (for which he paid) for distribution among officials, and asked me to send him Bibles for the same purpose. Still he thinks it best for missionaries to confine themselves to the sale of books, as the only safe ground.”

Dr. Martin himself has had no small part in the evangelization of Japan. A book (“Tendosogen’) on the evidences of Christianity, which he wrote for the Chinese, was among those early brought to Japan, where many thousand copies have been sold.

” A letter written by Mr. Liggins in 1861, and published in The Spirit of Missions, gives a good summary of the situation in Japan at that time:

“As some persons, because Japan is not open to missionary labors to the extent they wish it was, speak as if it were not opened at all, it seems necessary to state what missionaries can do at the present time in that country.

“1. They can procure native books and native teachers by which to acquire the language, and of course, the acquisition of the language is, during the first few years, a principal part of their duty.

“2. They can, as they are able, prepare philological works to enable subsequent missionaries and others to ac9uire the language with much less labor and in much less time than they themselves have to give to it; and each, in the course of a few years, may make his contribution towards a complete version of the Holy Scriptures in the Japanese language.

“3. They can furnish the Japanese, who are anxious to learn English, with suitable books in that language, and thus greatly facilitate social and friendly intercourse between the two races.

“4. They can dispose by sale of a large number of the historical, geographical, and scientific works prepared by the Protestant missionaries in China. Faithful histories of Christian countries tend to disarm prejudice and to recommend the religion of the Bible; while works on true science are very useful in a country where astrology, geometry, and many false teachings on scientific subjects generally, are so interwoven with their religious beliefs.

“5. They can sell the Scriptures, and religious books and tracts in the Chinese language, and thus engage in direct missionary work. As books in this language are understood by every educated Japanese, and as the sale of them is provided for by an article in the treaty, we have here a very available means of at once conveying religious truth to the minds of the Japanese.

“6. They can by their Christian walk and conversation, by acts of benevolence to the poor and afflicted, and by kindness and courtesy to all, weaken and dispel the prejudices against them, and convince the observant Japanese that true Christianity is something very different from what intriguing Jesuits of former days, and unprincipled traders and profane sailors of the present day, would lead them to think it is.

** Living epistles of Christianity are as much needed in Japan as written ones; and it would be very sad if either were withheld through a mistaken idea that Japan ‘is not open to missionary labor.’

Just after the signing of the Treaties, the statement of some was: “Japan is fully opened to the spread of Christianity.’ This the writer opposed at the time as contrary to the facts of the case; and he has now endeavored to show that it is equally erroneous to assert, as some do, that it is not opened at all. What the writer has said on the subject is not the result of hearsay or of a flying visit to Japan; but of an experience in the work during the ten months that he resided in the country. This experience convinces him, that if missionaries faithfully embrace the openings which there are already, others will speedily be made; and the time will soon come when it may be said with truth, ‘Japan is fully opened to the spread of Christianity.’

“But perhaps it may be asked: ‘Is it not still a law that a native who professes Christianity shall be put to death?’ To this an affirmative answer must be given; but it should be remembered that another law was passed at the same time which declared that any Japanese who returned to his native country after having been for any cause whatever in any foreign country should be put to death. As this latter law, though unrepealed, is not executed, so it is believed that the law against professing Christianity will in like manner not be enforced.

“In conversing with Mr. Harris, the United States Minister at Yedo, on this subject, he stated that he had used every endeavour to have this obnoxious law repealed, but without success ; a principal reason being that the Government feared that it would form a pretext for the old conservative party to over-throw the Government and again get into power.

“I do not believe said Mr. Harris, “after all that the other foreign ministers and myself have said on the subject, that this law will ever be enforced ; but if it should be, even in a single instance, there will come such an earnest protest from myself and the representatives of the other Western Powers that there will not likely be a repetition of it”

“The non-repeal of this law, therefore, while it is a matter of regret, is nevertheless not to be adduced as a proof that Japan is still closed to missionary effort, but only as a reason for a prudent course of procedure on the part of the missionaries.”

Whatever the laws may have been, the Government seemed to have little fear of the missionaries, for in 1861 it sent a number of young men from Yedo to Kanagawa that they might be taught English by them.

Frame Seven:

First Protestant missionaries in Japan.

James Curtis Hepburn, M.D., LL.D. (March 13, 1815 – June 11, 1911) was a physician who became a Christian missionary. He is known for the Hepburn romanization system for transliteration of the Japanese language into the Latin alphabet, which he popularized in his Japanese–English dictionary.

EARLY in 1859, the Mission Board of the American Episcopal Church appointed Rev. John Liggins and Rev. C. M. Williams, both of whom were missionaries in China, to open work in Japan, “requesting them to remove to that empire and to enter upon the missionary work there immediately after receiving these instructions.”

Mr. Liggins found that the teaching of English afforded one of the best opportunities for usefulness. He soon had a class of eight government interpreters. As the Christian Scriptures were prohibited, he thought that “missionaries must be content to circulate scientific works containing an admixture of Christianity.” By August he had sold or given away one hundred and fifty copies of such books. He wrote:

“I look upon these geographical, historical, and scientific works prepared by the missionaries in Chinese as the pioneer literature for Japan; and as works in Chinese are understood by all well-educated Japanese, these works are destined to be eminently useful in doing away with this people’s misconception of Christianity and preparing the way for the circulation of the Scriptures.”

October 18, 1859, J. C. Hepburn, M.D., of the American Presbyterian Board, landed with his wife in Kanagawa; and in November, Rev. Samuel R. Brown and D. B. Simmons, M.D., both of the Reformed Church in America, reached the same port. Mr. Brown and Dr. Hepburn had, several years before this, been for short periods missionaries in China.

The three boards that had been urged by Dr. Williams, Mr. Syle, and Chaplain Wood, to begin work in Japan had thus quickly responded to the appeal. Dr. Williams after wards wrote: “I do not know that better men could be found to begin missionary efforts than Brown, Hepburn, and Liggins.”

One reason why it had been deemed appropriate that the Reformed (Dutch) Church in America should engage in this new enterprise was because it was thought that it would be able to profit by the relations that had previously existed between Holland and Japan. This consideration made the missionary board of that church desire to send out someone whose birth in Holland made Dutch his mother tongue. Such a person was found in a young man named Guido F. Verbeck, who was about to graduate from the theological seminary in Auburn, N. Y. He accepted the invitation of the Reformed Board, accompanied Messrs.  Brown and Simmons as far as Shanghai, and reached Nagasaki, November 7. The families of Messrs. Brown, Simmons, and Verbeck, remained for a while in Shanghai, whence they proceeded in December to Japan.

Though the names of some of the first missionaries will frequently appear in the following narrative, it may be well to add here a few notes concerning the six men to whom was given the honor of inaugurating the work of Protestant missions in Japan.


around 1859-1873!

Rev. John Liggins was born at Nuneaton in Warwick-shire, England, May 11, 1829. In 1841, he removed to Philadelphia, Pa. He graduated in 1855, from the Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Alexandria, Va. In November of the same year he sailed for China. The ill health that had led him to visit Japan permitted him to remain there only about ten months. Returning to America, he engaged in literary work. Among his publications were, “England’s Opium Policy,” “A Missionary Picture Gallery” and “The Great Value and Success of Foreign Missions.”

While in Nagasaki, he prepared a book entitled “One Thousand Familiar Phrases in English and Japanese,” which was the first book of the kind written in Japan.

Channing Moore Williams, (17 July 1829 – 2 December 1910) was an Episcopalian missionary to China and Japan and later bishop. His saint’s day on the Anglican calendar is 2 December.

Right Rev. Channing Moore Williams was born in Richmond, Va., July, 1829. He went to China at the same time with Mr. Liggins. In 1866, he was made Bishop of China and Japan. The growth of the work in the two countries, and the increasing difficulty of properly caring for so large a diocese, led to the appointment, in 1874, of another bishop for China, while Bishop Williams remained in Japan. In 1889, he resigned this charge, but continued in active work as a missionary until 1908, when he returned to America.

James Curtis Hepburn, M.D., LL.D., was born in Milton, Penn., March 13, 1815. He graduated from Princeton College in 1832, and from the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1836. In 1840, he married Miss Clara M. Leete. After graduation he practiced medicine in America for a few years, and in 1841, went to Singapore as a medical missionary. Two years later he removed to Amoy. The ill health of Dr. and Mrs. Hepburn made it necessary to relinquish this work, and in 1846, they returned to America, settling in New York, where he established a lucrative practice. When Japan was opened, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions asked him to take up work in that land, and thus it was that, as we have seen, he went there in 1859. Hereafter there will be occasion to speak not only of his medical work, but also of his literary labors in the preparation of tracts, in the translation of the Scriptures, and in lexicography.

In 1892, he retired from the work and returned to America. Perhaps no other missionary in Japan gained to so great a degree the esteem of all classes of people, Japanese and foreign. The Japan Mail spoke of him as “a man whose name will be remembered with respect and affection as long as Yokohama has annals . . . •

The beauty of his character, his untiring charity, his absolute self-negation, and his steady zeal in the cause of everything good, constitute a picture which could not fail to appeal to the Japanese people.” On his ninetieth birthday, in 1905, the Emperor of Japan conferred upon him the decoration of the Third Class of the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun.


Guido Verbeck、Samuel Robbins Brown、Danne B.Simmons.

Rev. Samuel Rollins Brown, D.D., was born in East Windsor, Conn., June 16, 1810. His father was a carpenter; his mother wrote the well-known hymn, “I love to steal awhile away.” While he was still young, his parents removed to Monson, Mass., where his childhood was spent. He graduated from Yale College in 1832. He was accepted by the American Board for service in China; but as lack of funds made it impossible to send him, he went in 1838 to that country as a teacher for the Morrison Education Society, which had been established there by Christian merchants. After eight years he returned to the United States on account of Mrs. Brown’s poor health. He took with him for education in America three Chinese lads, one of them being Yung Wing, who afterwards did so much to promote education among his countrymen. Dr. Brown established a private academy in Owasco Outlet, N. Y., and also was pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in the same town. Going to Japan in 1859, he remained until 1879. He died at Monson, June 20, 1880. Besides other literary work, he was the chairman of the committee that had in charge the translation of the New Testament, and he shared with Drs. Hepburn and Greene the chief responsibility in that work. He will, however, be specially remembered as a teacher; for in Japan, as previously in China, he taught many young men who have since held prominent places in the religious, official, and business worlds. He inherited his mother’s poetical genius, and was also a gifted musician.

His biography has been published by Rev. W. E. Griffis, D.D., under the title, ” A Maker of the New Orient.”

D. B. Simmons, M.D., resigned from the mission of the Reformed Board in i860. He continued to practice Medicine in Yokohama until 1882.


Guido Herman Fridolin Verbeck (born Verbeek) (28 January 1830 – 10 May 1898) was a Dutch political advisor, educator, and missionary active in Bakumatsu and Meiji period Japan. He was one of the most important o-yatoi gaikokujin (foreign advisors) serving the Meiji government and contributed to many major government decisions during the early years of the reign of Emperor Meiji.

Rev. Guido Fridolin Verbeck, D.D., was born January 23, 1830, in Zeist, Province of Utrecht, Netherlands. His father was burgomaster of Zeist. The son was educated as a civil engineer, and about 1852 went to pursue his profession in America. Believing, after a time, that he was called to the ministry, he entered the Theological Seminary at Auburn, N. Y., where he graduated in 1859. In April of the same year he was married to Miss Maria Manton of Philadelphia, and soon after sailed from New York for Japan. Like the other early missionaries, he found that the teaching of English afforded the first opportunities for usefulness. His success with his pupils led to his being invited to take charge of an English school that the Government established in Nagasaki. With the consent of his Board, he accepted the position, and in 1869 removed to Tokyo, where for four years he was connected with what later became the Imperial University. During this period and afterwards, he was constantly called upon to advise the Government in educational matters. His connection with the Government continued until 1878. All of this time he continued to preach and engage in other forms of religious work. In 1877, he received the Third Class decoration of the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun. In 1891, the

Government showed its further appreciation of what he had done by granting a special passport that gave him and his family the right to travel or reside in any part of Japan in the same manner as subjects of the country.

One reason for this was that Dr. Verbeck was “a man without a country,” having lost his citizenship in Holland and never having been naturalized in America. Hence, he could not claim protection from any foreign legation. After leaving the employ of the Government, he taught in a theological school, engaged in direct evangelistic work, and helped in the translation of the Scriptures. The excellent translation of the Psalms is a monument to his industry and ability. He died March 10, 1898. The Emperor sent a gift of five hundred yen for the expenses of the funeral, which was attended by a representative of the Imperial Court and many other officials. The city government of Tokyo presented his family with a perpetual lease of the plot where his body was buried. Dr. Verbeck’s biography has also been published by Dr. Griffis.

The wives of those of the above missionaries who were married deserve mention; but, as is so often the case, the materials for such notice are not easily found, and their work was not of such a kind as obtained much public record. Whatever success attended the labors of their husbands was doubtless due in large part to these noble women, and they should share with their husbands the honor that belongs to these missionary pioneers.

Frame Eight:


Matthew Calbraith Perry (April 10, 1794 – March 4, 1858) was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy who compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.

AT last the time had come for Japan to be drawn forth from its long seclusion. The way in which this was accomplished by Commodore Perry has often been described, and here we need concern ourselves with only such particulars as have a direct connection with our subject.

When it became known that the United States was fitting out an expedition to Japan, great interest was aroused among those who hoped that among its results would be the opening of the land to the Gospel. One young man, Jonathan Goble, joined the force of marines for the purpose of gaining such knowledge of Japan as would help in future attempts at its evangelization. During the last part of the outward voyage he had an opportunity to begin missionary work by instructing a Japanese who was one of a crew of shipwrecked sailors picked up by an American ship and sent to China. When Commodore Perry offered to take these sailors to their own country, only one of them accepted the offer. The sailors gave him the nickname “Sam Patch,” by which he was known to foreigners through the remainder of his life.

It was well understood that the prejudices of the with a Baptist church in Hamilton, N. Y. It was hoped that he might take a prominent part in the evangelization of his people; but he proved unfit for such labors. He died in 1874. Over his grave in Tokyo is a stone cross bearing the name by which he was best known, “Sam Patch.” Spalding, “The Japan Expedition,” p. 208.

A Japanese court lady in a hand-pushed carriage, from Arnoldus Montanus’ 1669 book. Some modern historians, however, expressed doubts as to whether the members of the Dutch embassy really saw the scene depicted.

Japanese against Christianity would add to the difficulties of negotiating a treaty with them. In the directions sent by President Fillmore to the Secretary of the Navy it was said:

“The deep-seated aversion of this people to hold intercourse with Christian nations is said to be owing chiefly to the indiscreet zeal with which the early missionaries, particularly those of Portugal, endeavored to propagate their religion. The Commodore will therefore say that the Government of this country, unlike those of every other Christian country, does not interfere with the religion of its own people, much less with that of other nations.”

The President’s letter to the “Emperor of Japan” touched upon the same point: “The Constitution and laws of the United States forbid all interference with the religious or political concerns of other nations. I have particularly charged Commodore Perry to abstain from every act which could possibly disturb the tranquility of your Imperial Majesty’s dominions.”

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853, and the last member of the Whig Party to hold that office.

The reality of the Japanese prejudice was manifested when the treaty came to be signed. The English version bears the date, ” This thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, and of Kayei the seventh year, third month, and third day;” but the Japanese version omits the former of these two ways of designating time.

Spalding says that when some of the Japanese and Americans were exchanging autographs, he requested one of the former to write his name on the title-page of a Book of Common Prayer, which happened to have a steel engraving of the Cross upon it. “He had dipped his camel’s-hair pencil into his portable inkstand, passed the point through his lips, and was about to write, when his eyes rested upon the cross; he instantly shook his head, threw the book upon the table, nor could he be induced to touch it again.”

The first two days after the American fleet reached Uraga, some of the Japanese officials had been allowed to come on board the flag-ship. The next day was Sunday, and when a boat containing several people of high rank came from the shore, they were informed that no visitors could be received on that day, which was one observed by Americans for the worship of God. The hymn appropriately chosen for the morning service was that commencing:

“Before Jehovah’s awful throne.

Ye nations bow with sacred joy;

Know that the Lord is God alone;

He can create, He can destroy.”

With the aid of many of the fine voices of the crew and the assistance of the brass instruments of the band, in sight of heathen temples, and perhaps in the hearing of their worshipers, swelled up ‘ Old Hundred ‘ like a deep diapason of old ocean.” Thus did America call upon Japan, not only to have friendly relations with Western nations, but also to know and serve the Lord.

Townsend Harris (October 3, 1804 – February 25, 1878) was a successful New York City merchant and minor politician, and the first United States Consul General to Japan. He negotiated the “Harris Treaty” between the US and Japan and is credited as the diplomat who first opened the Empire of Japan to foreign trade and culture in the Edo period.

Afterwards when Townsend Harris refused to transact business on the Sabbath, the Japanese urged “that when Commodore Perry was here, he made no difference for Sunday.”

Whatever inconsistency there may have been in Commodore Perry’s behavior, he was not indifferent to the influence that his work would have upon the religious history of Japan. In a paper read in 1856, before the American Geographical Society, he said:

‘ Though a sailor from boyhood, yet I may be permitted to feel some interest in the work of enlightening heathenism and imparting a knowledge of that revealed truth of God, which I fully believe advances man’s progress here and gives him his only safe ground of hope for hereafter. To Christianize a strange people, the first important step should be to gain their confidence and respect by means practically honest and in every way consistent with the precepts of our holy religion.”

Chaplain Jones’s views concerning the possibilities of missionary work were expressed as follows:

“Apart from governmental influence, I think there would be no great difficulty in introducing Christianity, but the Government would interfere most decidedly. I performed funeral services on shore four times; once at Yokohama, twice at Hakodate, and once at Shimoda; in every instance in the presence of the Japanese, and in most when large numbers were collected. They always behaved well. Japanese officers were present, with their insignia, on all occasions. I thus became known among the people every- where as a Christian clergyman; or, to follow their signs for designating me, as ‘ a praying man.’ Instead of this producing a shrinking from me, as I had supposed it would, I found that I had decidedly gained by it in their respect and this among officials as well as commoners. At our last visit to Shimoda we found a new governor. … At the bazaar, amid the buying, etc., I was led up to him by one of the officials and introduced as a clergyman. The Governor’s countenance brightened up as my office was announced, and his salutation and treatment of me became additionally courteous. I mention this, however, for what it may be worth. There was no seeming aversion to me because I was a minister of Christianity. The Government, however, beyond all doubt, is exceedingly jealous about our religion; but the Japanese officials as well as the people are so inquisitive and so observant of all that comes within their reach that, doubtless, after a time, they may be brought to see the difference between ourselves and the Romanists. Against the latter they have a deep-seated dislike. Until they do understand that difference, no form of Christianity can probably get foothold in Japan.”

The treaty made by Commodore Perry did not give Foreigners the right to reside in Japan, and the country was still closed to missionary efforts; yet it was evident that what had been accomplished must lead, sooner or later, to a complete opening of the doors, and the missionary societies eagerly awaited further developments. In 1855, the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States asked one of its missionaries in China to visit Japan and make such investigations as should prepare the way for future operations. Failure to obtain passage from Shanghai prevented the person appointed from making the visit.

The treaty provided for the appointment by the United States of a consul, who should reside in Shimoda. The first person to hold this position was Townsend Harris. He arrived at his post in 1856. To him was entrusted the task of negotiating a new treaty that should carry one step further what had been done by Commodore Perry. The results showed that he was eminently fitted for this duty. Professor Nitobe says:

“If ‘an ambassador,’ according to Wotton’s definition, is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the commonwealth, Harris was no diplomat. If, on the contrary, an American minister to an oriental court is a representative of the moral principles of the great Christian republic, Harris deserves the name in its best sense.”

Dr. S. Wells Williams speaks of Mr. Harris as “Truly a Christian man,” and says, ” His success is better explained if the fact be known that it was in answer to prayer.

Chaplain Wood states that Mr. Harris showed him his letter of instructions from Mr. Marcy, the American Secretary of State, in which Mr. Harris was directed ”to do his best, by all judicious measures and kind influence, to obtain the full toleration of the Kiristian religion in Japan, and protection for all missionaries and others who should go there to promulgate it.” Apparently there was some misunderstanding here, for, whatever may have been written in personal letters, the only passage in the official instructions that bore upon the subject was the remark: “The intolerance of the Japanese in regard to the Christian religion forbids us to hope that they would consent to any stipulation by which missionaries would be allowed to enter that empire, or Christian worship, according to the form of any sect, would be permitted.”

Whatever may have been the doubts of his superior concerning the possibility of obtaining any concession, Mr. Harris, as we have already seen, resolved to make the attempt; and his efforts were crowned with success, the eighth article of the treaty that he concluded providing that :

“Americans in Japan shall be allowed the free exercise of their religion and for this purpose shall have the right to erect suitable places of worship. No injury shall be done to such buildings, nor any insult be offered to the religious worship of the Americans.

“American citizens shall not injure any Japanese temple or miya, or offer any insult or injury to Japanese religious ceremonies, or to the objects of their worship.

“The Americans and Japanese shall not do anything that may be calculated to excite religious animosity. The Government of Japan has already abolished the practice of trampling on religious emblems.”

This treaty, which was signed in July, 1858

They did not give permission for preaching Christianity to the Japanese, and it is said that the endeavor of some of the foreign ambassadors to have an article to this end inserted, was obstinately resisted. Yet there was reason to believe that, if missionaries availed themselves of the liberty to reside in Japan, they would find opportunities for teaching their religion to the people. An officer of the United States Navy had already, in 1857, written from Hakodate, expressing the opinion that the time had come for sending missionaries? Prudent men, of tried experience, who “must remember that it is death to a Japanese to become a Christian,” and must not “rush headlong into the work without considering secondary means;” but who, if judicious, would probably “meet with as much encouragement as they generally do when first commencing operations in heathen lands.”

Among these, in 1858, was Dr. S. Wells Williams. He says:

Janus Henricus Donker Curtius (21 April 1813, Arnhem – 27 November 1879, Arnhem). He was the last Dutch commissioner for the island of Dejima in Japan. He studied law at Leiden University. He arrived in Dejima in 1852, and was contemporary with the forcible opening of Japan by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853. He was able to assist others, including Westernern diplomats, in the process of adjusting and working through unfamiliar Japanese customs and practices.

“I was much impressed with what Mr. Donker Curtius, the Dutch envoy, who had just signed a treaty, then said; that the Japanese officials had told him they were ready to allow foreigners all trading privileges if a way could be found to keep opium and Christianity out of the country.

There were also then at Nagasaki Rev. Mr. Syle and Chaplain Henry Wood, and we three agreed to write to the directors of the Episcopal, Reformed, and Presbyterian Mission Boards, urging them to appoint missionaries for Japan who could teach the people what true Christianity was. Within the coming year we all had the pleasure of meeting the agents of these three societies in Shanghai.”

Chaplain Wood found opportunities to speak to his pupils about the truths of Christianity. In a letter to the New York Journal of Commerce he speaks of the way in which he utilized the appearance of Donati’s comet:

Comet Donati, or Donati’s Comet, formally designated C/1858 L1 and 1858 VI, was a comet named after the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati who first observed it on June 2, 1858. The comet is considered a non-periodic comet. After the Great Comet of 1811, it was the most brilliant comet that appeared in the 19th century.

“When the comet appeared in such length and splendor above the western mountains, they contemplated the strange sight with admiration, but not with terror, though they had no science or theory to account for it. . . . Very naturally, and indeed almost inevitably, the comet became an associate teacher in my seminary, furnishing the opportunity I was seeking to discourse on the great theme of God and His character, which I was wishing to introduce, but not violently or in a way to create offence and distrust, remembering the place where I stood and its history. When questions were proposed about the comet, it was easy and natural to proceed from the effect to the cause and to discourse on the existence and character of God, and the origin, the extent, and the laws of the material creation. The absurdity and folly of idols and idol worship were then argued. . . . Not only did they take no offence, but they listened with attention and respect, and seemed to give their assent. At this stage I did not venture to refer to Christianity. … I waited till I had secured the confidence of the Governor and the confidence and, I may add, the affection of the young men, nor even then did I make an onslaught, but, as I before remarked, waited for incidents or inquiries which should make the religious turn of the instruction natural and inevitable, and throw the responsibility, if anywhere, upon the Japanese themselves. Soon an opportunity was presented by the questions asked by one of the students when the words churchy pulpit, organ, and choir occurred in one of the reading lessons This led to the explanation of the form of church edifices, the Sabbath, public worship, the singing in the church, the construction of an organ and the manner of playing it, the preacher and what he preached, and the happy effects of preaching upon those who heard and obeyed it. Thus Christianity in all its doctrines was expounded at their own request.

“On another occasion the conversation turned upon the soul, which was explained as spiritual, imperishable, and immortal. What then, they inquired, becomes of it when the body dies? God takes the good,’ it was replied, ‘ to heaven.’ What is heaven? ‘they asked again. I explained, when they caught the idea and exclaimed, ‘ Paradise I Paradise! ‘The word had probably travelled down from the time of the Catholic missions. They next asked: ‘ What becomes of the bad men? ‘They go to a bad place where they are punished for their wicked deeds.’ ‘Is fire there? ‘they anxiously inquired, showing that either such an idea was entertained in their own religion or else had been handed down by the tradition of centuries. They were perplexed about the meaning of the word God which I used. I explained, going from effects to a cause, from the world to Him who made it, when one exclaimed in high excitement: ‘The Creator! The Creator! ‘Yes, this God made us, and cares for us, and pities us.’ They themselves saw and knew that men are ignorant and wicked, and therefore God had sent Christ, His own Son, into the world to teach mankind and to save them. Interrupting me, one asked excitedly: ‘Jesus Christ?’ In some way he had heard and understood the double name, but hesitated when he heard the single term only. Yes, Jesus Christ,’ I replied. * He loved us; He pitied us; He came into the world to teach men to be good and show them how they could be happy when they die. But men were so wicked whom He came to make happy that they seized Him and put Him to death on the cross. He was buried, but He rose again.’ All this amazed them, evidently awakening their sympathy, and at the same time their admiration.”

Other works prepared in China gained considerable circulation in Japan. Dr. Mc-Gowan wrote :

“There are probably few if any books published by missionaries in China on secular affairs that have not been re-published by the knowledge-loving Japanese. The largest work of the kind is from the pen of the senior missionary in China, Dr. Bridgman,  a geographical and statistical account of America issued some twenty years ago. To that book the Japanese are indebted for their knowledge of our country , a knowledge so precise as to excite surprise.”

He suggests that this work may have prepared the way for the success of Commodore Perry. As will be seen in a later chapter, Joseph Neesima was among those reading Dr. Bridgman’s book about the time of which Dr. Mc Gowan writes. He who would understand the causes that have produced the New Japan ought not to overlook the important preparatory work that was done by the missionaries in China in giving to the young men of the island empire so many new and inspiring ideas.

the end @copyright Dr Iwan suwandy 2011