The Japanese and the Jesuits: Alessandro Valignano in Sixteenth-Century Japan

The Japanese and the Jesuits: Alessandro Valignano in Sixteenth-Century Japan

The Japanese and the Jesuits: Alessandro Valignano in Sixteenth-Century Japan

The Japanese and the Jesuits: Alessandro Valignano in Sixteenth-Century Japan

Synopsis

The Japanese and the Jesuitsexamines the attempt by sixteenth-century Jesuits to convert Japan to Christianity. Directing the Jesuits was the Italian Alessandro Valignano, whose own magisterial writings, many of them not previously translated or published, are the principal source material for this account of one of the most remarkable of all meetings between East and West. Valignano arrived in Japan in 1579. In promoting Christianity, he always sought the support of the ruling classes. He taught the missionaries to adapt themselves thoroughly to Japanese customs, etiquette, and culture, and insisted that they master the Japanese language. He brought a European printing press to Japan, turning out grammars and dictionaries of Japanese for the missionaries, as well as works of instruction and devotion for the Japanese Christians. Following Valignano's death, Christianity was proscribed and missionaries banished from Japan. This does not detract from his remarkableachievements, however. He understood perfectly well that foreign missionaries by themselves were not capable of converting Japan to Christianity. One of his principal concerns was the training of Japanese Jesuits and priests, and breaking down the barriers between them and the Europeans. Few people have been more acutely aware of the tensions or grappled more determinedly with the problems in Japanese-Western relationships than Valignano.

Excerpt

Very little of the work of Alessandro Valignano has previously been published in English, and much of it has never been published at all. This book includes substantial excerpts from his letters and treatises, published and unpublished. Translations are my own.

The arrangement of the matter is thematic rather than chronological, and the themes are, for the most part, the same which preoccupied Valignano himself.

My debt to Father J.F. Schütte, SJ, Professor J.L. Alvarez-Taladriz, and other scholars, will be obvious. I am grateful also to Kirishitan Bunko, Sophia University, Tokyo, for allowing me to consult their copies of the relevant parts of the Jesuit archives; to Father Edmond Lamalle, SJ, for kindly providing microfilms of some of Valignano’s letters; to Angela Newman, for help with the maps; and to Dr Michael Cooper, SJ, who answered enquiries, read the script, and offered valuable comments and suggestions.

Here in Yamaguchi the labour of composition has been lightened by help and encouragement from colleagues and friends, especially Father Domenico Vitali, SJ, and Professor Nakamura Tōru.

J.F. Moran

Yamaguchi, Japan

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.