Even though Japanese people today seem not to be quite interested in religions, historically they had a lot to do with us. – The Christianity is that.
Japan is well known as a country that had the period of ‘national isolation’ in the history. Have you ever thought – why did Japan do in the first place? Well, to understand the meaning of the core of the national isolation policy, I figured that knowing the history was necessary.
In 1587, 豊臣秀吉 (Hideyoshi Toyotomi), who, governed the whole part of Japan for the first time, in Japanese history, decided to ban people to believe in the Christianity making a new law, where everyone in Japan must NOT believe in the Christianity. Around that time, The Christianity got popular enough among people, even a lot of daimyo (basically who are the high classed samurai) were already Christians. Also Hideyoshi, I believed, was saying that people can believe in whichever religion they want before that. Then why did he do that?
According to Japanese history textbooks, just ‘to surpress people who got violent.’ We don’t get to go into a detail in fact. To understand it, we have to pay more attention to what was going on in the western countries at that time, which is the Age of Discovery. Portugal and Spain got so big they colonized a lot of countries. They planned to colonize Japan as well. Portugal sent us missionaries claiming that they would love to teach the Christianity, however, Hideyoshi thought this could be Japan’s crisis. – It is said that Christian people at that time could have destroyed our temples or shrines believing that The Christianity is the only religion that they could believe in. He was afraid that Japan would lose not only our country itself but also lose the culture. Japan was about to get colonized because of the Christianity by them anytime soon.
In 1613, Edo era, 徳川家康 (Ieyasu Tokugawa) took over Hideyoshi’s idea, and officially published a law which banned people to believe in the Christianity. At this point, the Christianity got so popular there seemed a lot of rebellions going on. Hard time. The Edo government had no choice but limited the countries that could have a trade with us. To protect our ancient culture or customs. – Eventually this led us to close our country completely. It was an only option left for us at that time.
I often get amazed why Japan, such a tiny country compared to the rest of the world is still able to be ‘Japan’ without getting colonized today. (Technically after WW2, we did get colonized by America but we got our country back in 1951.) it’s also fascinating that our culture remains as it is today. I appreciate our ancestors. I wouldn’t have been even able to tell you about Japanese culture now otherwise. Knowing the history is knowing its country. Keep learning people.
~Please be aware that I’m not trying to say anything bad about the Christianity, and all opinions I write here are mine. There might be other theories. ~
Thanks for reading!