The Takayama Name

His Name Was Justus TAKAYAMA Ukon

Justus Ukon TAKAYAMA is the standard Western way of writing the name of a Japanese Christian: Christian name, FIRST; Japanese given name, SECOND; and SURNAME, LAST. Other examples: Paul Yoshigoro TAGUCHI. Or Paul Yoshinao OTSUKA. Or Gracia Tama HOSOKAWA.

But other Japanese Catholics prefer their Christian name in the middle. Thus: Toru Albert NISHIMOTO. Or Iwao Daniel IKEGAMI.

A third style is preferred by the Church of Japan for Ukon: Justus TAKAYAMA Ukon. (This will be the standard rendition for Ukon in this website.) Takayama’s Christian name is Justus (Variants: Justin, Justy, Justino, Justiniano) — after the early Christian saint, St. Justin Martyr (100-165 AD). It is Justus / Iustus in Latin; Justo in Spanish and Portuguese, and Giusto in Italian. In full: Justus TAKAYAMA Ukon.

 In Japanese standard usage, it is TAKAYAMA Ukon – which is how he signed his name (高山 右近) – SURNAME, first.

“Ukon” was derived from the Heian era’s “Ukonoefu” (Lieutenant of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards), which was among many obscure (and empty) court titles that was a fad among the samurai of that period. It was an honorific title that became an endearing first name — much like “Erap” (for Pare). Its use is akin to the Filipino endearment for beloved bosses: “Amo-Boss-Chief!” In today’s lingo, simply “Bossing.”

In various stages of his life, Takayama used other names, as is the standard Japanese practice.

His childhood name was TAKAYAMA Hikogorō (彦五郎) – also, in missionary accounts, Hicogorodono. After his coming-of-age ceremony – (in Japan, age 20 marks a person’s transition from being a child to being an adult) – Takayama was given the adult name TAKAYAMA Shigetomo (重友).

When Justus became lord of Takatsuki (in Settsu province) in 1573, he obtained the name TAKAYAMA Nagafusa – (“Naga” was a nod to Nobunaga.)  As he affected the name Ukon, this became TAKAYAMA Ukon-no-Tayû Nagafusa. As he was a Christian, it was now Justus TAKAYAMA Ukon-no-Tayû Nagafusa. In short: Justus TAKAYAMA Ukon.

 He signed ordinances in Takatsuki as Takayama Ukon-no-suke Jusu (at another time, Jushutsu). “Jusu” and  “Jushutsu are both Ukon’s own rendering of “Justus.”

Another official name used: Takayama Ukon-no-tayû Yûshô Nyûdô Nambô. Signature in another document: Takayama Ukon Nyudô Nambô. Another reference: Takayama Nambô.

As a tea-master, he was known as Minami-no-Bô TAKAYAMA Hida no-kami.

But in missionary accounts, he was known as Justo Ucon-dono – as in Manila. This was sometimes spelled Ucan-dono – as in the Jesuit-commissioned Manresa Mosaic in Barcelona, Spain.

But now, he is to be known as Blessed Justus TAKAYAMA Ukon. ◘


By Dr. Ernie A. De Pedro, Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

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