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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

His journey took him in the first place to Yamaguchi


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was, in fact, evident that the attitude of the official classes towards the new-comers was mainly influenced by the prospect of trade, and that the attitude of the non-official classes towards the foreign religion depended largely on the mood of their superiors. Xavier argued that "if the favour of such a small prince was so potent for the conversion of his subjects, it would be quite another thing if he (Xavier) could have the protection of the Emperor." He therefore, resolved to visit Kyoto. His journey took him in the first place to Yamaguchi, capital of the Choshu fief. This town lay on the northern shore of Shimonoseki Strait, and had long been the principal emporium of trade with China and Korea. But the ruler of the fief, though courteous to the new-comers, evinced no disposition to show any special cordiality towards humble missionaries unconnected with commerce. Therefore, finding that their preaching produced little effect, Xavier and his companion, Fernandez, continued their journey to Kyoto, which they reached after travelling for nearly two months on foot in the depth of winter. It happened, however, that the capital was then suffering sharply from the effects of internecine strife, and the two missionaries failed to obtain access to either the sovereign or the shogun.

Nothing remained, therefore, but recourse to street preaching, and for this they were ill equipped, for Xavier, constitutionally a bad linguist, knew very little of

the Japanese language, and his companion, Fernandez, even less, while as for Anjiro, he had remained in Kagoshima. After devoting a few days to this unproductive task, Xavier returned to Yamaguchi. He had not made any converts in Kyoto, but he had learned a useful lesson, namely, that religious propagandism, to be successful in Japan, must be countenanced by the ruling classes. He therefore caused his canonicals to be sent to him from Hirado, together with his credentials from the viceroy of India, the governor of Malacca, and the bishop of Goa. These documents he submitted to the Choshu baron, accompanying them with certain rare objects of European manufacture, including a clock and a harpsicord. A permit to preach Christianity was now obtained without difficulty, and the Yamaguchi officials went so far as to issue a proclamation expressing approval of the Western religion and granting entire liberty to embrace it. An empty Buddhist monastery was assigned as a residence for Xavier and his companions, and the fact is certainly an eloquent testimony to the magnanimity of the Buddhist priests.

Many converts were now made, and fresh proof was obtained that the road to success lay in associating propagandism with commerce. It was nearly a decade since the Portuguese had effected their first landing on Tanegashima, and throughout that interval trade had flourished in their hands. They had not sought any new markets on the main island; first, because their ignorance of the coasts rendered navigation risky; and, secondly, because internecine war raged throughout almost the whole of the main island, whereas Kyushu enjoyed comparative tranquillity. Xavier now took advantage of a Portuguese vessel which called at Yamaguchi en route for Bungo, a province on the eastern littoral of Kyushu. His intention was to return for a time to the Indies, but on reaching Bungo he learned that its ruler, Otomo, wielded exceptional power and showed a disposition to welcome the Jesuit father.

This Otomo was destined ultimately to act a leading part on the stage of Christianity in Japan. Xavier now had recourse to methods suggested by his recent experiences. On a visit to Otomo he caused himself to be escorted by a large number of the Portuguese crew, who wore rich garments, carried arms, and flaunted banners. This procedure seems to have weighed cogently with Otomo, who was keenly desirous of attracting foreign traders and obtaining from them not only wealth but also novel and effective weapons of war. Seeing that Xavier was almost deified by the Portuguese, Otomo naturally applied himself to win the good-will of the Jesuits, and for that purpose not only accorded to them entire liberty to teach and to preach, but also despatched a messenger to his younger brother (who had just succeeded to the lordship of Yamaguchi), advising him to protect the two Jesuits then residing there, namely, Torres and Fernandez. Xavier remained four months in Bungo and then set sail for Goa in February, 1552. He died in December of the same year, and thus his intention of returning to Japan was defeated. His stay in Japan had lasted twenty-seven months, and in that interval he and his comrades had won some 760 converts.


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