Capsule History of Dilao – First Japanese ‘Nihon-machi’ in the Philippines

►THOUGH it is only a small patch of earth, Plaza Dilao was significant in the shared history of Philippine-Japanese relations (1593-2018):

Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao, Intramuros, Manila — Built in 1592 by the Spanish government to deter threats and invasion by Hideyoshi. Renovated in 1622. Restored by the Intramuros Administration after its desctruction during the Battle for Manila (Feb. 3-March 3, 1945)

1593 – It memorializes the Dilao of old, which was the first nihon-machi of the early Japanese. The old Dilao, which was originally located just outside Intramuros (at the site now occupied by the Manila City Hall) was established in 1593 by the Spanish colonial government as the first district for Japanese residents of Manila – merchants, mercenaries, sailors, castaways, and survivors of shipwrecks. The Japanese Christians among them were placed in the care of Franciscan missionaries.

“UNDER THE GUN” — Dilao was under eight cannons of the Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao, Intramuros, Manila — to quell any possible uprisings by the Japanese population

1603 — The districts of Dilao, San Miguel and Bagumbayan are in flames because of the Chinese rebellion. The Spaniards were joined by Tagalog and Japanese fighters in quelling the uprising. The rebellion was then quelled by the Spaniards, together with the support of Filipinos and the Japanese in the settlement of Dilao. The Japanese especially showed no mercy in the repression. Altogether 20,000 Chinese were killed. In 1603, there was a large massacre of around 20,000 Chinese, mostly of Fujianese Hoklo descent. The location was in Manila’s Parian de los Sangleyes (the Chinese quarter). Most of the San Miguel district, including its chapel was destroyed during the Chinese uprising of 1603.

Cannon points directly at the Manila City Hall, attesting that the original site of the Japanese “nihon-machi” was the City Hall area

1611 – Manila Archbishop Diego Vázquez de Mercado (1533 – 1616; r. June 13, 1604- June 12, 1616) constituted the San Miguel parish and assigned it to the Jesuits.

1611 — Andrea Caro described Manila in 1611: “Chinese without number, Japanese, East Indians, people of Malacca and Java, a great many Portuguese, French, Dutch, Flemings, immigrants from Italian, Greek and Sicilian cities, all these in addition to the natives of various tongues, tribes and islands, and the Spaniards, both men and women.”

The exile boat of Lord Takayama was a Portuguese-captained multi-masted Chinese junk — with a Japanese and Chinese crew of some 30 sailors

1614 – It memorializes the “350 Christians” from Japan who rather than abjure their Catholic religion, came to live in Manila. In December 1613, the governor of Kyoto started drawing up a list of Christians to expel. The Nagasaki government – run by the anti-Christian bugyo (governor) Hasegawa Fujihiro Sahyoe (1568-1617) — also had a “passenger list” of those to be exiled, but in the scramble for berths to Macau and Manila, they lost track of who was going where. Then, there were clandestine debarkations at “Dos Caballos” islands in the middle of Nagasaki Bay. Then came “fake news” – of this or that noble (including Takayama’s wife, Justa Kuroda Takayama) falling overboard and drowning, meaning: Don’t look for them anymore! As a passenger manifest, the Nagasaki list (of which there are many versions) was useless. But the list definitely included 23 Jesuit missionaries (15 Japanese and eight Europeans, minus Fr. Antonio Francisco Critana, SJ, who died on board the exile ship) and 15 Jesuit dojuku (Japanese male catechists).

The precious Marian icon – “Our Lady of the Rosary” — more popularly known as “La Japona” which had accompanied the first Dominican missionaries to Satsuma in 1602 – was entrusted to the care of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama – on the exile voyage to Manila in 1614. “La Japona” continues to be enshrined at the Santo Domingo Priory in Quezon City, Philippines.

But the historian and statesman Yosaburo Takekoshi (1865-1950), writing in The Economic Aspects of the History of the Civilization of Japan  (London: George Allen, 1930; Routledge: 2004) summarizes — without citing his source: “In all, there were 117 [nobles and missionaries – not counting the ship’s crew], and 200 students of theological schools” – which conforms with the generally-accepted ballpark figure of “350 Christian exiles” stated in Colin/Pastells.

In 1614, Manila welcomed “with a charity approaching veneration a fragment of the heroic church of Japan.” (Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ).

The first boat of Japanese exiles contained some 350 Christians who were banished for refusing to adjure their Catholic faith

◘◘◘ — Takayama’s group included his family – his wife Doña Justa Kuroda Takayama (who returned to Kanazawa before June 1616, with a bone relic of Takayama Ukon); a daughter, Lucia Yokoyama (wife of Yokoyama Daizen Yasuharu, 1590-1645, a high-ranked governor who remained in Kanazawa – in one Jesuit account, “at the explicit wish of Ukon”; but another Jesuit writes Yokoyama had apostatized “outwardly” to protect his position, greatly distressing Ukon who did not want his daughter Lucia to be living with “that apostate”); five (not three) grandchildren (aged 8-16), all surnamed Takayama, as they were children of Ukon’s son, Jujiro Takayama (d. 1608), and one nephew, Benedict Sandeyu.

◘◘◘ — Lord Juan Tocuan Naito (内藤 如安, 1550-1626), also known as Tadatoshi Naito, or Yukiyasu Naito, former lord of Kameyama and Yagi castles in Tanba, which he lost in 1573 for siding with Shogun Yoshiaki. During the Korean War, he fought under the command of Admiral Konishi Yukinaga; and served as Hideyoshi’s ambassador to the Ming Court in China (1594-1596) on account of his knowledge of Chinese characters. Though he was only two years older than Ukon, Naito was described in a Jesuit account as “already old and sickly.” He was accompanied by his wife, who outlived him; two sons, one of whom was identified as the samurai Thome Naito (who returned to Osaka in mid-1615 and was given command of 300 men at the epic Summer Campaign between Hideyori and Ieyasu), and Naito’s daughters. (The second son and a nephew were ordained priests in Manila; two daughters became Santa Clara nuns.) At the time of the expulsion, Lord Naito, described as “a distinguished soldier under Ieyasu,” and son Thome had been retainers of the Maeda clan in Kanazawa for 14 years. But they had criticized the severe anti-Christian measures of the Tokugawa Shogunate, so Ieyasu ordered their names added to the exile list.

◘◘◘ — Members of the first Japanese religious congregation for women, the Jesuit-chaplained Beatas de Meaco [Kyoto] or Miyako no Bikuni (Nuns of Kyoto, 1615-1656), led by Prioress Julia Naito (Lord Naito’s younger sister, and 14 other nuns, including Doña Mencia (1574-1641), second superior of the Beatas, after Mother Julia died in 1627; and Doña Tecla Ignacia (1579-1656), third superior of the Beatas, after Doña Mencia died. Other nuns include Doña Maria Iga; Doña Maria Muni (d. 1640, mother of Doña Tecla Ignacia); Doña Maria Park (a Korean noblewoman, c1572-1636); Doña Magdalena Nagashima, first cousin of Julia (c1577-1622), and Doña Luzia de la Cruz (1580-1656) — the last Japanese cloistered nun to die.

◘◘◘ — Mother Julia Naito had been widowed at 22, and became a Buddhist nun (later abbess of a Jodo-shu monastery.). In 1596, after hearing a sermon of Bro. Hoin Vicente Vilela (not to be confused with P. Gaspar Vilela, SJ), she received Baptism from Fr. Organtino, and took the name Julia. In 1606, she organized a women’s congregation devoted to catechetical work in Kyoto and environs which she called “Miyako no Bikuni” – under the care of Fr. Organtino and Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ. By 1613, the Beatas had 18 nuns. At the start of the general persecution in 1614, Mother Julia hid the nine younger Beatas, while she and eight other well-born Beatas surrendered to authorities. They were subjected to the “tawarazume torture” wherein they were stripped naked, placed into old rice-bags tied tightly with rope, paraded around town, threatened to be brought to a brothel, then piled on top of each other on the banks of a river. This torture lasted nine days, but all the Beatas survived it without any of them apostatizing.

(This Japanese pioneering congregation preceded — by six years — the arrival of the Poor Clares (officially, the Order of Saint Clare) or the Spanish Clarissas, who arrived in Manila on August 5, 1621. The Spanish congregation of 10 nuns was led by Mother Jerónima de la Asunción (1555–1630) who was declared by the Vatican as a “Servant of God” in 1734. Since 1621, the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara (Royal Monastery of Saint Clare) has continually existed and still serves an active community of nuns.)

There were several dozen Japanese nobles, but their names have not surfaced yet. Those who have been identified were:

►Ukita Hisayasu (related to, but not a son of, Lord Ukita Hideie [1573-1655], member of The Council of Five Elders), who ruled from Okayama Castle over Bizen, Mimasaka, and part of Bitchu of provinces (with an estate of around 575,000 koku);

►*** Ukita Kyukan (with an estate of 1,500 koku);

►***Shinagawa Uhei [Hayakawa Uhyoe?] (1,000 koku);

►***Shibayama Gombei [Shinagawa Gombei] (500 koku),

►and an unnamed Christian daughter of the multi-married Daimyo of Bungo, Dom Francisco ŌTOMO Sōrin.

The three underlined names are mentioned in “Mitsubo Kikigaki” – an archival document in Kanazawa Bibliotheca — as among 70 Japanese nobles, Christian knights allied with Takayama Ukon, exiled to Tsugaru region on April 13, 1614.

But Papinot (1910) identifies three names in BOLDFACE as Ukon’s companions-in-exile in Manila.

Yosaburo Takekoshi (1930) likewise lists three names with asterisks (***) as Manila exiles.

(For both “Mitsubo Kikigaki” and Papinot / Yosaburo to be right, the three Tsugaru exiles – all faithful knights of Takayama for at least 12 years — would have hurried to join up with Takayama at Nagasaki for the voyage to Manila.)

The faithful Christian “ronin” accompanied Takayama on the exile voyage to Manila

◘◘◘ — Another fellow-exile was Diego Yuki Ryosetsu (a seminarian ordained as a Jesuit priest in Manila in 1615, and martyred in “the pit” in Osaka in 1635. He has come to recent recognition by being among 188 Japanese martyrs beatified in Nagasaki in 2008.

Blessed Diego Yuki Ryosetsu (1574-Feb. 16, 1636) arrived in Manila with Lord Justo Ukon Takayama’s exile group of 350 Japanese Christian deportees on Dec. 21, 1614. He completed his seminary studies at the San Jose Seminary (now relocated in Loyola Heights, Quezon City), where he was ordained. Knowing full well the risks of martyrdom, he returned to Japan to profess his ministry.

1615 — The Jesuit Church and the Jesuit residence in San Miguel district becomes a center for Japanese Christians.

1615-1626 – Lord Juan Tocuan Naito became Regidor of Dilao (first nihon-machi established in 1593) and San Miguel (second nihon-machi populated by Kirishitan exiles in 1614), collecting tributes for the Manila government from residents in these districts. Naito worked at translating Chinese medical  books (which he collected when he was an envoy in Peking) into Japanese, and applied his knowledge to cure the sick.

1616 — A Spaniard kills a Japanese in a brawl. A Japanese crowd started arming themselves, demanding justice. But Fr. Pedro de Montes, SJ, rector of the Jesuit College, manages to calm the Japanese.

1617 – The Japanese of Dilao take up arms against the government. After this was quelled, the government decided to raze Dilao and disperse its 1,500 residents to other suburbs.

1620 – There are 2,000 Japanese residents in Manila.

1621 – A new group of Japanese nobles, numbering some 200, arrive in Manila.

1621 — Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano, OESA (r. 1620-1629), reported to the king of Spain in 1621 that there are “more than 1,500 [Japanese] Christians … in the parochial church of Santiago, and in the villages of Dilao and San Miguel, which are suburbs of Manila, and in the port of Cavite” — but he pointed out that this was not a fixed population “because they are a people who go to and fro” to Japan.

1623 — Archbishop Garcia Serrano receives a request from Nagasaki Christians to establish a Japanese College in Manila. Gov. Alonso Fajardo sets aside a lot for this college. In 1636, the plan to build a seminary for Japanese seminarians was again considered, but dropped as an unnecessary aggravation to the Tokugawa Shogunate.

1626 — This is the year Lord Naito died in San Miguel. Balete ceased to be an independent municipality and was reincorporated into the town of Dilao. Thus, Balete has been forgotten, and it is Dilao — now known as Paco — that has remained through the years.

1627 – Prioress Julia Naito dies.

1632 — The third Tokugawa Shogun of Japan – Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651; r. 1623-1651) — loaded 134 “converted Christians” on a ship and sent them to the Spanish authorities in Manila with a letter saying: “If it is converts you want, begin with these.” They turned out to be lepers, who soon spread the disease in the Philippines. Time Magazine remarked (in “Religion: Lepers”): “Before 1632 there was no leprosy in the Philippines.” (But the  Franciscan archivist,  Fr. Pedro Ruano, OFM, disputes this; Franciscan doctors encountered cases of leprosy in Manila soon after their arrival in 1578, when they established – in keeping with their healing ministry — a medical center and dispensary in Intramuros run by the lay Brother, Juan Clemente, OFM. The Franciscan dispensary had run for 56 years when Iemitsu’s lepers arrived.

The Japanese lepers became a part of Dilao history when the Franciscans sheltered them in a large compound they built in Dilao with government support, which they called San Lazaro – after St. Lazarus, patron saint for lepers. It was only in 1785 – 151 years later — that the leprosarium was transferred to Hacienda Mayhaligue, the site that the present-day San Lazaro Hospital, now a Special National Hospital Medical Center for Infectious Diseases, occupies in Rizal Avenue, Santa Cruz district, Manila.

1635 – A new shipload of Japanese Christians arrives from Japan.

1637 –The number of Japanese tribute payers was listed as 218 which, at an average of four members per household, translated to some 872 Japanese residents. This conforms to a report of the Japanese in Cambodia that the size of the Japanese community in Manila was some 800 in 1637. (Seiichi Iwao, Early Japanese Settlers in the Philippines.)

1638 — After the Shimabara Rebellion in 1637, many Japanese were deported to Macau or to the Spanish Philippines. Many Macanese and Japanese Mestizos are the mixed-race descendants of the deported Japanese Catholics. Some 400 were officially deported by the government to Macau and Manila, but thousands of Japanese were pressured into moving voluntarily. “About 10,000 Macanese and 3,000 Japanese were moved to Manila.”

1645 – A grievous earthquake shakes Manila (on Nov. 30) – lasting as long as four times the recital of the “Credo.”  The Jesuit church and Residence at San Miguel collapses. In Manila, damage was severe: it almost “crumbled” ten newly constructed churches in the capital, residential villas and other buildings. An estimated number of 600 Spanish people were killed, and about 3,000 Spanish were injured

1656 — The last Japanese cloistered nun – Doña Luzia de la Cruz — of the Beatas de Miyako (“Miyako no Bikuni“) dies four decades after their arrival in Manila. This marks the end of the cloistered Japanese nunnery as they had refused to admit Japanese or Tagalog additions to their ranks, including a Naito daughter who instead joined the Clarissas, and after she died, was replaced by another Naito relative.

1656 – San Miguel is listed as having 140 families, representing 560 people.

1720 — Fulminating against the expected ordination of Filipino priests, Fray Gaspar de San Agustin warns against the chastisement “of flourishing Christian communities by placing them in the  hands of natives ordained to the priesthood.” His objection: Filipinos’ pride “will be aggravated by their elevation to a sublime state; their avarice with the increased opportunities of pretoing on others; their sloth with their never having to work for a living; and their vanity with the adulation that they will necessarily seek; desiring to be served by those whom in another state in life they would have to respect and obey….”

c1724 — First Filipino is admitted to the priesthood.

1762 – As the Japanese population dwindled, the Dilao settlement moved to the site now occupied by the Paco Railroad Station and Plaza Dilao, according to Felix de Huerta. Medina notes: “As part of the war preparations against the British in 1762, the authorities moved Paco [as Dilao was then more popularly known] and located it between the city moat and the Pasig. The site constituted the land occupied before by the Bateria de Carlos IV, lying between Baluarte de Dilao and Puerta de Recoletos.”

1768 – San Miguel (the Kirishitan district) burns down. It is relocated near the Malacanan area.

1791 — The three towns of Dilao, Santiago and Pena de Francia were amalgamated into a new town collectively known as San Fernando de Dilao. The popular name — Dilao — now referred to the expanded area.

1898 – Plaza Dilao was the area proposed by the Philippine Historical Markers’ Committee in 1943 to commemorate the 25 Japanese volunteers who assisted Filipinos in their uprising against Spain in 1898.

1945 — During the Liberation of Manila (February 3 – March 3, 1945), 300 Japanese soldiers lost their lives defending the Paco Railway Station and the adjoining Plaza Dilao, to prevent American troops from advancing to South Manila. The battle for the Paco Railway Station changed hands three times during the fighting from Feb. 7-11, 1945. The battle ended on Feb. 11, 1945 – Kigensetsu Day (National Foundation Day of Japan) — when the 37th Infantry Division finally annihilated the Japanese defenders. The citations for the four Medals of Honor awarded to American soldiers confirmed the number of Japanese soldiers killed: 300.

Other World War II numbers:

◘◘◘ — More Than One Million Filipinos Dead: The Japanese Occupation cost the Philippines over 1,000,000 lives of its 17 million pre-war population.

◘◘◘ — Over 100,000 Filipinos Dead During Liberation Battle: The Battle for Manila (February 3 to March 3, 1945) caused over 100,000 deaths.

◘◘◘ — Death Toll of the Philippine Church: During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines (1942-1945), the Philippine Church lost one Bishop; 62 secular clergy; 88 religious priests; nine chaplains; four deacons and scholastics; 37 Brothers and 86 Sisters. Total war casualties: 289.

(In Manila, the Church of Japan lost two priests: ● Fr. Joseph Isamu Ikeda, who studied at the UST Interdiocesan Seminary and was ordained a priest on Jan. 5, 1945 by Manila Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty – d. March or April, 1945; and ● Fr. Haruo Sugiyama [a priest impressed as a soldier into the Japanese military], who was waylaid on P. Noval St., Sampaloc, after visiting Father Ikeda at the UST Seminary – d. Jan. 10, 1945.

If major seminarians are included in the death count, as is the practice in the Philippine Church — then the Don Bosco seminarians, ● Sebastian Masaji Maki <d. Nov. 1944>, and ● John Shigeru Nishimura <d. Feb. 1945> would also be listed among the Japanese Church’s war deaths.)

Takayama Memorial at Plaza Dilao in 1977

1977 – Plaza Dilao memorializes the checkered Philippine-Japanese history that has spanned four centuries – with Lord Justus Takayama Ukon (高山右近) as the best exemplar of friendship and amity between the two peoples.

Plaza Dilao — as renovated in 2019

1992 – The Takayama Memorial is declared a National Monument by the National Historical Commission (predecessor of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NCHP).#

Compiled by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

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