Yearbook Japan, 2019, vol. 48, pp. 321–343

DOI: 10.24411/0235-8182-2019-10014

Connections between Japan and European Catholic world (late 16th — early 17th centuries)

Yu.L. Kuzhel

Abstract. The article describes the religious mission which was the first attempt to convey to Europeans the truth about Japan and to let the Japanese learn about the Christian world. The Tensho embassy of 1573–1586, named after the Tensho era, in which the embassy took place, was an embassy sent by the Japanese Christian Lords to the Pope and the kings of Europe. The embassy was led by Mancio Itō who was the first official Japanese emissary to Europe. The idea of sending a Japanese embassy to Europe was originally conceived by the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, and sponsored by the three Christian daimyos. They were accompanied by two servants, their tutor and interpreter Diego de Mesquita, and their mentor Valignano, who only accompanied them as far as Goa in Portuguese India, where he was to take up new responsibilities. The ambassadors arrived back in Japan on July 21, 1590.

Besides, this article analyzes the role of Alessandro Valiniano, a Jesuit missionary who created the integration policy of evangelization of Japan: non-interference in the internal affairs of the country, respect for customs, traditions, adaptation to local culture. Jesuit model of early modern times: recognition of equality of European and Japanese cultures, integration into local society, rejection of monastic absolutism. Jesuit missionaries correctly assessed the importance of observing the Japanese etiquette and ritual.

This was opposite to the medieval Franciscan model of missionary activity: the opposition to the non-Christian population, the absolutization of traditions, the monastery as the only place of service. But, still, in 1638, Catholic missionaries were finally expelled from Japan.

Keywords: religious missions, evangelization, Christians, martyrs, policy of cultural accommodation, Jesuit model, missionary activity, integration policy.

Author: Kuzhel Yuri L., Doctor of Science (Art), Professor of Foreign Languages Department, Moscow Institute for Tourism Industry n.a. Yu.A. Senkevich. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Contents of the issue: Yearbook Japan, 2019, Vol. 48.