This is part one of an eventual three part series on the rise and fall of Christianity in medieval Japan. This week, we’ll cover the background of events in Europe and Japan, as well as the arrival of the first Portuguese traders in the country.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Boxer, CR. The Christian Century in Japan.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol II (1336-1615).

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

 

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses for debate to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany. His defiance of the Catholic hierarchy touched off the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses for debate to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany. His defiance of the Catholic hierarchy touched off the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

The location of Tanegashima island in reference to Kyushu. Tanegashima was the site of the first Portuguese landing in Japan.

The location of Tanegashima island in reference to Kyushu. Tanegashima was the site of the first Portuguese landing in Japan.

An Edo period print by Katsushika Hokusai depicting the arrival of the first foreigners in Japan.

An Edo period print by Katsushika Hokusai depicting the arrival of the first foreigners in Japan.

A Portuguese fleet coming to Japan for trade.

A Portuguese fleet coming to Japan for trade.

Portuguese tradesmen offloading their goods in Japan.

Portuguese tradesmen offloading their goods in Japan.

A "Tanegashima"-pattern arquebus, built off European models.

A “Tanegashima”-pattern arquebus, built off European models.

This statue in Kagoshima depicts Francis Xavier (center) with Anjiro, the Japanese Christian convert who first suggested he come to Japan, on the left. The figure on the right is a second Japanese convert generally known by his baptismal name Bernard.

This statue in Kagoshima depicts Francis Xavier (center) with Anjiro, the Japanese Christian convert who first suggested he come to Japan, on the left. The figure on the right is a second Japanese convert generally known by his baptismal name Bernard.