Episode 350 – The Rising Sun Will Come to Us From Heaven, Part 2

This week, we’re talking about Christianity during the Bakumatsu Period — the era that saw the forced opening of Japan and the collapse of samurai government. How did debates around Christianity figure in to this turbulent time in Japanese history?


Abe, Yoshiya. “From Prohibition to Toleration: Japanese Government Views Regarding Christianity, 1854-73.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 5, No 2/3 (Jun-Sept, 1978).

Farge, William J. “The Japanese Fear of Christianity and European Nationalism in the Diplomacy of Commodore Matthew C. Perry.” Japan Studies Review 11 (2007).

State Department Communiques from 1868; you can follow this link to see an American perspective on religious laws in the early Meiji state.


Sacred Heart Cathedral in Yokohama, site of one of the first big Christian controversies of the Bakumatsu period (when Tokugawa samurai arrested Japanese leaving the cathedral).
Christ Church, Yokohama. It wasn’t just Catholics who built churches in the foreign concession; Anglican and other Protestant denominations began constructing them as well.
The USS Preble, which in 1849 recovered American sailors stranded in Japan.
Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, the site where three Japanese women told a French priest they were secret Christians.
New York Times coverage on Japan from October 1, 1868. Note the item that’s slipped in there on the persecution of Christians.