1542, the very first Europeans from Portugal landed on Kyushu in
western Japan. They brought with them foreign trade, especially
new weapons, as well as Jesuit missionaries. As the Japanese barons
on Kyushu wanted to keep the trade, they tolerated the missionaries.
Due to this main reason, Christianity managed to enjoy an initial
success of converting quite a large number of people in western
Japan, which included members of the ruling class.
1549, Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, brought the mission to
Kyoto. The religion flourished and was accepted as a religion throughout
Japan, especially during the reign of Oda Nobunaga, who had succeeded
in unifying Japan in 1569.
the end of the 16th Century, however, Christianity began losing
its standing. An edict was issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to forbid
the propagation of Christianity and ordered all missionaries out
of Japan. In 1597, 26 missionaries were executed as a warning. Tokugawa
Ieyasu and his successors continued the persecution of Christianity
through several other edicts. Due to all these oppressions, organized
Christianity finally came to an end in the 17th Century.
arrival of French missionaries in 1859 after the opening of Japan
brought with it the knowledge that some Christians still existed
in Japan. After the Meiji restoration in 1873, the freedom of religion
was advocated. And ever since World War II, the number of Japanese
Christians has increased.
continues to be a minority religion in today's Japan. About 1% of
Japan's population consider themselves Christians. Most of them
live in western Japan, where the missionaries' activities were at
their greatest. There are a few Christian customs that have become
quite popular in Japan, even among the non-Christians. The celebration
of Christmas and even the wearing of white dresses at weddings are
examples of Christians' customs.