In June 1636, during the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japanese Catholic Christian missionaries moved to prevent entry into their territory.
At the same time, officials did not hesitate to issue an order prohibiting the Japanese from leaving the islands and building ships, thus announcing the beginning of a policy of isolating the country from the outside world. With this decision, Japan reconciled within a century of the arrival of the first European ship.
Map of Japan in the early nineteenth century
The first to arrive in Japan
Japan was unknown to Europeans in the thirteenth century, as Marco Polo, a traveler and merchant of Venetian descent, did not give an accurate account of it during his famous voyage to China via the Silk Road in the thirteenth century.
The first Europeans arrived in Japan between 1542 and 1543. While sailing to the Macau area off the coast of China, a Chinese ship with several Portuguese ship passengers derailed after a storm and found itself on the island of Kyushu. The Japanese were surprised to see the crew of this ship before being allowed to move freely and explore the area.
Fictional image of Reverend Francis Xavier
In addition, the ship’s crew included several prominent Portuguese explorers and passengers, Antonio Motta and Francisco Simoto, who became the first Europeans to land in Japan. During a tour of this new area, the Portuguese were impressed by the beautiful landscapes and natural resources possessed by Japan during the Sengoku period, which is considered to be one of the most violent periods in Japanese history. In addition, Antonio Motta and Francisco Simoto brought portable rifles to Japan. With their respect for these new types of weapons, the Japanese began to manufacture guns in recent years, and they adopted them to fight each other, which led to a significant increase in the number of deaths.
Before leaving the area, the Portuguese made a treaty with a local prince, in which the Japanese allowed a Portuguese merchant ship to come to Nagasaki each year. In addition, both parties basically agreed to exchange precious stones and gold for textiles, animal fur and soap.
At the same time, it was a golden age for Portugal, which dominated the spice trade in the Indian Ocean after setting foot in Manila, Macau and Goa.
Christianity and Renaissance spread
In 1549, a Japanese man known as Anjire emigrated to Goa, India. There, he met several Jesuit missionaries who had persuaded him to convert to Christianity.
In addition, Anjiru described Japan to Jesuit missionaries and persuaded them to spread Christianity there. In the ensuing period, Reverend Francis Xavier and several missionaries came from Goa to Japan, where they began their mission to spread Christianity among peasants and local leaders.
About 30 years after the departure of Francis Xavier, the number of Christians in the vicinity of Nagasaki is estimated to be over 150,000. In addition, the same area witnessed the emergence of more than 200 churches. In addition to spreading Christianity, Christian missionaries passed on the ideas and sciences of the European Renaissance to the Japanese cities where they lived, thus leading to the modernization of areas isolated from the world.
An imaginary picture of Antonio Motta teaching a Japanese how to use a rifle