►Following the end of World War II, an Urakami-born Trappist priest, Father Kaemon Noguchi (†2001), visited the ruins of the destroyed Urakami Cathedral. He wished to find something in the rubble that he could take as a memento, but could not find anything suitable. He stopped and prayed for a blessing.
When he opened his eyes, he saw the charred face of a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, looking at him with a “sad and familiar” regard. The priest immediately recognized that it was the head of the statue of the Immaculate Conception placed over the main altar of the cathedral.
Wood Carving — Based on Murillo Painting
The original Marian statue, carved from wood, was brought to Urakami Cathedral in the 1930s from Italy This image is based on the painting by the Spanish painter, Bartoleme Esteban Murillo (1618-1682) of the Immaculate Conception motif. It stood two meters tall.
This was the statue that he had seen regularly as a child and before which he had prayed for guidance and protection and for his vocation, the statue he had never forgotten even after entering the monastery.
The Trappist priest brought the burnt head of the statue back to his monastery in Hokkaido and kept it in his room, praying in front of it. He finally returned it to Urakami Cathedral when he attended a ceremony held there to mark the 30th anniversary of the atomic bombing.
A Return to Urakami Cathedral
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the bombing, the statue, which has come to be called “Hibaku no Maria” (‘Atomic-Bombed Mary’), was installed in a newly-erected small chapel at the cathedral.
Five years later, in 2010, Hibaku-no Maria accompanied Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki on his world peace pilgrimages to the Vatican and Spain, where the head was presented at a memorial ceremony held for air raid victims in Guernica.
The statue was then taken to the United Nations in New York in time for the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.#
►TO SUPPORT the call of the Philippines’ First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos (1929- ), for a beautification program for Metro-Manila at the start of Martial Law (1972-1981), Manila Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing (1916-2006) organized on Feb. 1, 1973, the Kababaihan sa Pagpapaganda ng Lungsod ng Maynila [Ladies’ Committee for the Beautification of the City of Manila].
Their assignment: Beatify the parks and open spaces that dot Metro-Manila. Their first priority: Beautify Plaza Dilao which visiting VIPs pass by in their motorcade from the Manila airport to Malacanan Palace.
Ladies’ Committee for the Beautification of Manila
The members of the Kababaihan were: Mrs. Julita C. Benedicto (wife of Philippine Ambassador to Tokyo, Roberto S. Benedicto), chairman; Mrs. Purita Ponce-Enrile, co-chairman; Mrs. Leonora Pascual, co-chairman; Mrs. Elisa Abello (wife of Philippine Ambassador to Washington, Emilio Abello), vice-chairman, and Miss Lourdes R. Caruncho, executive secretary. Members were Mrs. Carmen P. Caro; Ms Mariquita Castelo; Ms Remedios Francisco (historian); Mrs. Leticia de Guzman; Mrs. Minerva G. Laudico; Mrs. Milagros Sumulong; Ms Albina Tuason, and Ms Juanita Valera.
When the ladies’ research indicated that the Dilao area – the old site, that is— had been reserved by the Spanish colonial government for Manila’s Japanese population in 1592, finally relocating at the Plaza Dilao area in Paco in 1762, the Japanese element crept in. Perhaps a Japanese garden – “with plenty of plants and benches for people to rest and relax especially during the evening when traffic is less” — could be developed?
Former Japanese Settlement — Requiring Japanese Motif?
They decided to consult Japanese Ambassador Toshio Urabe (1969-1974) about the possibilities.
Not readily recognized by the Manila ladies at that time, Ambassador Urabe was the longest-serving Japanese diplomat engaged in rebuilding postwar Philippine-Japanese relations. Ambassador Urabe was a veteran Philippine hand, having been first assigned to Manila in 1953 as Counsellor of the Japanese Overseas Liaison Office. He led the team that negotiated the Philippine-Japanese Reparations Agreement that was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1956. He was returned to Manila in 1964 as Ambassador, staying on till 1974.
In 1973, Ambassador Urabe – who is credited with the Japanese Garden at the Rizal Park and the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya (Laguna) — discouraged the “garden” idea. He was not being a killjoy. Being located at a very busy traffic intersection, he thought “a Japanese garden would not be safe for residents to relax in.”
The Manila ladies countered that, whatever project was suitable, this could be jointly undertaken by the cities of Manila and Yokohama (Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken), a sister city of Manila since July 1, 1965.
Urabe assured the ladies that he would contact the City of Yokohama for funding support, but — now he wanted to enlarge the base of Japanese public involvement and support — “he was quite vocal in saying that Manila’s sister city Yokohama should not be the only one to help in this project, but the other cities of Japan as well,” the Kababaihan reported to the Manila mayor.
Japanese Civic Groups and Christian Breakfast Prayer Groups Pitch In
AMBASSADOR URABE could not believe his luck. Only 28 years after the war (and only 17 years after the Philippine ratification of the Reparations Agreement), the Manila ladies — entirely on their own initiative — were proposing a joint people-to-people endeavor that the Japanese themselves had not even thought of.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs then logically turned to the Japanese sector most concerned: the small minority of Japanese Christians who comprised less than one percent of Japan’s total population. The Gaimusho contacted the Southeast Asian Friendship and Culture Association (SEAFCULA), whose founder and managing director was Rev. Ryoichi Katoh, minister of the Tokyo Ikebukuro Church, an affiliate of the United Church of Christ in Japan (KYO-DAN). Providentially, the SEAFCULA had been founded “on the concept of ‘Redemption’ for the wrongful deeds committed during World War II against the Asian nations.” They set to work at once.
“When they [the Foreign Ministry] approached us, requesting our cooperation on the matter, we were of course glad and ready to accept their proposal, since we thought it proper to cooperate with them fully on the project, as part of the said redeeming activities,” Katoh would recall four years later.
Gravitating Towards Ukon Takayama as the ‘Epitome of the Japanese Spirit’
After Rev. Katoh conferred with Archbishop Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi in Osaka, a memorial to Ukon Takayama became central to the SEAFCULA’s beautification plans.
The “Prospectus for the Construction of a Statue of Ukon Takayama and a Memorial Japanese Garden at Manila (SEAFCULA 73-142),” confirms that in Japan, Pastor Ryoichi Katoh and Archbishop Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, archbishop of Tokyo and chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, agreed to sponsor the memorial project “as an ecumenical effort of Protestants and Catholics in Japan and the Philippines.” Certainly, at that time, it was most audacious to propose to the Philippines to erect a memorial to a Japanese personality — a samurai at that! — a scant 32 years after the brutal Japanese occupation of the Philippines.
Manila Ladies Propose Ukon Takayama as the Personification of Philippine-Japanese Amity
In Manila, the Kababaihan sa Pagpapaganda ng Lungsod ng Maynila, after studying the possibilities, proposed on March 28, 1973, to Mayor Bagatsing:
“We women recommend that a memorial monument be constructed to honor the Christian feudal lord Takayama at a site of 2,000-square meters in front of Paco Station of the Manila Railroad in Plaza Dilao. This land had been assigned by the former Spanish government to the Japanese refugees. The realization of this plan should pave the way not only for closer fellowship between Japanese and Philippine churches, but also promote better friendship between the two countries.”
With the guaranteed financial support of SEAFCULA; the Executive Committee of Takatsuki City; the Keizai-Doyukai [the Japanese Council for Economic Development]; and Catholic and Protestant churches in Japan, the Kababaihan now proceeded with the project.
Japanese Sculptor Nishimori Commissioned to Erect Statue
AS AGREED UPON, the city of Manila provided the land and the labor, while Japanese sponsors contributed to provide the memorial. The Takayama statue, sculpted by the Christian convert Johannes Masaaki Nishimori (1939-), would be donated by the people of Takatsuki. Nishimori, then still known as Johannes Masaaki Nishimori (but today as Houshoo Nishimori), was a distinguished sculptor of international repute. Even the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo had commissioned Nishimori to sculpt “Sho Kannon” for the Embassy in 1974.
Nishimori spent several months at the Plaza Dilao area, figuring out what sort of memorial he would construct for Takayama. But as photographs of the Takayama statue in Takatsuki had been used to secure the approval of Philippine officials, it was decided that the self-same statue could be installed in Manila. Thus, the Takayama statue at Plaza Dilao was cast from the same mold as the original at the Shiroato Historical Park in Takatsuki City (Osaka Prefecture) in 1972. Other Takayama “twins” are in Takaoka (Toyama Prefecture) – at Kojyo Park — whose castle had been repaired by Takayama, while he was in the employ of the Maeda clan, and in Takamatsu – at the entrance of the Shodoshima Sonosho Catholic Church of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.
As the work of Nishimori was explained by Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, Lord Takayama’s hand, “horizontal over the sword, is a symbol of peace and justice,” at the same time, “the sword, forming a part of the long-beam of the Cross, is a symbol of a Christian samurai.”
Plaza Dilao Devolopment Suspended
BUT AS AMBASSADOR URABE had expected when the project was first discussed in 1973, there was some grumbling from war veterans’ groups, though these were never officially ventilated. As the project took shape, it was apparent that the memories of World War II and the atrocities committed by the Japanese were still fresh in some people’s mind. Unruly student demonstrations at the United States Embassy on Roxas Boulevard were a weekly occurrence in Manila at that time. The possibility that they might divert their considerable energies to the Plaza Dilao memorial honoring a Japanese delayed the construction of the plaza.
The Metro Manila Commission, headed by Mrs. Marcos, now cautioned the Manila Mayor on the prudence of installing the memorial at that time. The work was abruptly stopped. The inauguration scheduled for October 1, 1976 was indefinitely postponed.
WHEN PRESIDENT FERDINAND E. MARCOS (1917-1989) decided to proceed to Tokyo on a state visit on April 25-28, 1977, Rev. Katoh considered this a great opportunity to get him to reconsider the stopping of the project. In desperation at the stalemate in Manila, Katoh sent a three-page letter to President and Mrs. Marcos, petitioning to be allowed to complete the project. He said 104 Christian Breakfast Prayer Groups in Japan were praying for the successful completion of this project:
“Takayama, who was unmistakably a great Christian figure in respect to his culture and humanity, has served as a bridge established between the two countries in terms of friendship and culture to be fostered mutually.”
Katoh outlined for President Marcos “the life of martyrdom” that Takayama endured, recalling his exile and death in a foreign land: “Takayama had also come to lead a lonely life in exile, forsaking everything to include his brilliant social status and fame as a feudal lord, to say nothing of his great assets, being warmly tended for by your generous compassionate people….” Takayama was fated to die “an exile in another land,” a most painful destiny, Katoh reminded Marcos.
Mutual Expressions of Friendship and Amity
WHEN THE Sculptor Nishimori returned to Manila to look into the progress of the construction in June 1977, he brought a note — in English — from Takatsuki Mayor Fumitoshi Nishijima to Mayor Bagatsing, thanking him “from the bottom of my heart” for showing “consideration to our Takatsuki City.” Mayor Nishijima expressed himself superbly:
This winter, the coldest since ten and several years, has gone at last; flowers bloom all around, and fresh greens are in bud now…. I, and also 340 thousand citizenry, have no words to express our gratitude for your endeavors to erect in Plaza Dilao … [the] monument of Lord Justo Takayama…. I believe [this will] strengthen the ties of international friendship between Manila and Takatsuki still more, and also between the Philippines and Japan….
Mayor Bagatsing responded in kind:
[The memorial] is certainly a fitting memory to one who established the nucleus of a very warm friendship between our two peoples… That monument will ever remain a living reminder that peace can be achieved where there is a common bond of brotherhood.
Inauguration on Nov. 17, 1977
WHEN THE MARCOSES were abroad, and Cardinal Jaime Sin was in Mexico, the Takayama Memorial was inaugurated, with the tacit consent of Mrs. Marcos — otherwise the Kababaihan would not have dared to proceed.
The invitations indicated that Manila Auxiliary Bishop Amado H. Paulino (Parish Priest of Tondo, 1972–1985) would bless the Takayama Memorial at its inauguration on Nov. 17, 1977. But it as actually Rev. Fr. Toru A. Nishimoto, CSsR, chaplain of Japanese nationals in the Archdiocese of Manila, who offered the invocation:
“Almighty God, who sent Ukon Takayama to Manila to wipe away malicious intentions and deeds of the Japanese during his time, let this statue of Ukon Takayama be a great symbol of goodwill of the Japanese people in Asia, especially in the Philippines.”
Ambassador Kiyohisa Mikanagi, the third Japanese ambassador to be involved in the project, and Mayor Bagatsing of Manila, were the main guests. Rev. Katoh led a delegation of 35 from Tokyo; five from Takatsuki and 22 persons from the Tea Ceremony group. The Mayor of Takatsuki City, Hon. Fumitoshi Nishijima, and Speaker Hideyo Omae of Takatsuki were both present. Masaaki Nishimori, sculptor of the bronze statue, was also present.
Other guests were officers of the Japanese Club, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, represented by Ambassador Jose S. Laurel, III, and the Philippines-Japan Society. Others invited were officers of the Federation of Former Students to Japan, headed by Leocadio de Asis; key officials of the Japanese Embassy in Manila, and Japanese news correspondents, based in Manila.
Mrs. Julita C. Benedicto, and the Japanese Ambassador’s lady, Mrs. K. Mikanagi unveiled the statue. Then the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park was presented by the Ladies’ Committee to the City of Manila.
Augury for a Future Dedicated to Friendship and Amity
WHEN ONE CONSIDERS that Manila was the most war-ravaged city in the world during World War II — at the hands of the Japanese military — the story of the Memorial’s establishment is nothing short of a miracle. When one considers further that the statue was erected only 32 years after the end of the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines — barely a generation! — then the Memorial is truly unique.
On February 28, 1978, three months after Rev. Katoh had recounted to him the inauguration of the Takayama Memorial, Osaka Cardinal Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (1902-1978) passed away, happy that the Japanese Historical Committee had at last completed the Takayama papers (1975) and forwarded these to the Vatican, and satisfied that the Takayama Memorial now stood in Manila. From 1937 to 1977 – Cardinal Taguchi had dedicated the years to promoting the ‘Cause’ of Takayama.#
Across the Years, the Takayama Memorial Has Been a Destination of Japanese Pilgrims
From one jeep-full to three busloads, Japanese Christians and Buddhists, visit Manila to trace to footsteps of their exiled countryman, Lord Justo Ukon Takayama.
TAKAYAMA MEMORIAL IS DECLARED A NATIONAL MONUMENT (1992) – On Nov. 17, 1992 — on the 400th anniversary of the Dilao settlement (1592-1992), and the 15th anniversary of the Takayama Memorial at Plaza Dilao (1977-1992) — the National Historical Institute (now known as the National Historical Commission of the Philippines – NHCP), headed by Chairman Serafin D. Quiason (1930-2016), on the representations of the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation, installed at last a marker making the Takayama Memorial a national monument.
Former Mayor Ramon Bagatsing (1916-2006; Mayor of Manila 1971-1986) seconded the Takayama Foundation’s request: The Takayama Memorial “is an enduring symbol of Filipino-Japanese amity that dates back to 1600s,” he wrote. Additional endorsements were made by Prof. Mutsuhiko Miki, chairman of the PJCI, and Atty. Leocadio de Asis, adviser of the Philippine Federation of Japan & ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni, and director, Philippines-Japan Society.
The bronze markers were blessed by His Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, archbishop of Manila. The three markers — in Filipino, Japanese and English — were then unveiled by Ambassador Hirokazu Arai; Judge Jose A. Aguiling, president of the Manila International Sister City Association (MISCA), and Prof. Ernie A. de Pedro, managing trustee of Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation.
All Manila Mayors — On Board
Since 1977, all Manila Mayors – Mayor Ramon S. Bagatsing (1972-1988); Mayor Gemiliano “Mel” Lopez (Appt. 1986-1987; elected 1988-1992); Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza (1998-2007), and Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada (2013-2019) — have brought their guests from Japan to the Takayama Memorial to lay floral wreaths.
But the ongoing construction of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project (MMSS-3) stopped all visits to Plaza Dilao, as the Takayama Statue was wrapped in mufti — to prevent damage from construction debris.
On April 12, 2018, Manila Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada called for a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the future of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park. The Toyono-cho pilgrims, led by Toyoshige Kubo, president of Toyono-cho’s ‘Ukon-Honoring Association,’ who were paying a courtesy call on the Manila Mayor that same afternoon were invited to join the briefing.#
Mr. Jose S. Tanqueco, Jr., Consultant of San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMHC), shared how the rehabilitated Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao would look like.
►BOOKS: There are “over 1,000 books, pamphlets, monographs” – and one fiction novel, “Justo Ucundono, Prince of Japan,” by Philalethes [John E. Blox], Baltimore: John Murphy & Co. 1854. (Reprint: Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2007) — about the celebrated ‘Samurai of Christ,’ Justus Ukon Takayama, the FIRST being Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, “A briefe relation of the Persecution lately made against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia… Taken out of the Annuall Letters of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus,” St. Omer, France: 1619, translated from the Spanish ‘by Fr. William Wright, SJ [1563-1639].’ (Copy at Bodleian Library, Oxford University)
Particularly important are accounts of contemporary Jesuit missionaries who worked with and documented every year of the life of Ukon Takayama: ◘ P. Gaspar Vilela, SJ (c1524-1572) who baptized Justo in June 1563; ◘ P. Luis Frois, SJ (1530-1597); ◘ P. Organtino Gnecchi-Soldo, SJ (1530-1609); ◘ P. Gaspar Coelho, SJ (1530-1590); ◘ P. Gregorio de Cespedes, SJ (c1532-1611); ◘ P. Antonio Prenestino, SJ (c1543-1589); ◘ P. Giuseppe Fornaleti, SJ (c1545-1593); ◘ P. João Rodriguez Giram, SJ (1558-1629); ◘ P. Mattheus de Couros, SJ (1567-1633); ◘ P. Pedro Morejon, SJ (1562-1639), and ◘ P. Gabriel de Matos, SJ (1571-1634). Some years of Ukon’s life were covered by as many as SIX Jesuit writers.
Even the during the years of Sakoku (鎖国, “closed country”), 1636-1854, many books in Western languages were published, among them, St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, CSsR (1696-1787), Victories of the Martyrs (1775, 1887, 1954) which, based on his research on documents at the Vatican Archives, declared that Takayama was truly a martyr.
►ARTISTIC REPRESENTATIONS: There are “over a hundred” different representations of the “Samurai of Christ,” Justo Ukon Takayama, in Google.com / Images. But there are no Japanese woodcuts – or woodblock prints — yet.
We are sharing 11 woodcuts that appear in Doc. XXX – ‘Opera Artistica et Monumenta’ in Hubert Cieslik, SJ (CBCJ Historical Committee lead historian), “Justus Takayama Ukon, Servus Dei,” trans., edited and laser-printed by Ernesto A. de Pedro (Manila: Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation, 1994), 661p.
On the basis of this bookbound document, the Congregation for the Canonization of Saints (CCS) at the Vatican granted on June 8, 1994, a ‘Nihil Obstat’ recognizing the Japanese Christian of heroic virtue, Justo Ukon Takayama, as a “Servant of God.”
The Woodcut-Carver Was Non-Christian – But Often Tackled Christian Themes
THE WOODCUTS of Akusawa Isamu (1909- ?), a non-Christian artist known for his monumental woodcut series, was often occupied with Christian themes. In a series of small woodcuts — (24cm x 24cm) — he represented key scenes from the life of Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615).
◘ Memorial-stone of the baptism of Justo Takayama at age 12 (at Sawa Castle in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture), with carp-flags in the background as symbols of the children’s feast.
Justo’s father, Takayama Hida-no-kami or Don Dario Takayama, was the lord of Sawa Castle in the Yamato mountains to the south of Nara. He and his entire household were baptized on the same occasion.
◘ The boy TAKAYAMA Hikogorō (彦五郎), at 12 – at the time of his baptism in June 1563, taking the baptismal name “Justo” — after St. Justin Martyr (c100- c165 AD).
◘ Justus as Lord of the Takatsuki Castle (in Settsu Province) of which he became the castellan at age 21.
◘ Justus entering the battle at Yamasaki (1582). Leading a vanguard of “less than 1,000” men, Ukon helped insure the victory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
In the Battle of Yamazaki to avenge the death of Oda Nobunaga, Hideyoshi sent three advance detachments to spearhead the attack against “The 13-Day Shogun,” Akechi Mitsuhide, while Hideyoshi himself force-marched an army of 20,000 troops that was eight miles behind the forward forces, advancing by “30 to 40 km a day.” James Murdoch writes in A History of Japan (1903) that Takayama led the first detachment of “less than 1,000 troops” but “they were so fired with the ardor of battle, and so confident with the help of God that on seeing the enemy, Justo did not hesitate to lead them to battle. And they so bore themselves that in a twinkling, they [accounted for] more than 200 nobles of Akechi.” This led Ieyasu (r. 1603-1605; d. 1616) — the first of the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan till 1868 — to remark: “In Ukon’s hands 1,000 soldiers would be worth more than 10,000 in the hands of whosoever else.”
◘ Justus as father of the people.
◘ Mission-work of Ukon at Akashi, in Hyōgo Prefecture (1586-87)
◘ Justus, as tea-master, was known as ‘Minami-no-Bô TAKAYAMA Hida no-kami’
Ukon Takayama was one of seven prized pupils of Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591), who is considered the historical figure with the most profound influence on the development of ‘Chanoyu.’ The principles Sen set forward for the “Way of Tea” — harmony (和 wa), respect (敬 kei), purity (清 sei), and tranquility (寂 jaku) — are still central to tea ceremony today.
Ukon, who is always included in the variable list of “Rikyu’s Seven” (‘Rikyushichitetsu’), was credited with refining the tea ceremony into a serene celebration, with ritual movements “almost like a Mass.” The spirit of the art of tea – characterized by the qualities of harmony, reverence, purity, and tranquility — found in Ukon Takayama its Christian transfiguration.
◘ Justus in Kanazawa
In Kanazawa, Ukon — no longer a Daimyo — served as a samurai-general of the Maeda clan for 26 years. During this period of ‘domestic exile,’ Ukon rebuilt the Kanazawa Castle.
Ukon also built a church in Kanazawa; from 1604, a Jesuit priest and brother resided permanently in the church.
Some 600 of his former retainers and other Christian exiles, such as Naito Tokuan and Ukita Kyukan, took refuge in his lands in Noto Peninsula, where Ukon had built two churches for his Catholic community.
◘ Justus, expecting martyrdom in Nagasaki.
Ukon prepared for death by undergoing the 30-day “Spiritual Exercises” under his Jesuit confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ (1562-1639).
The “Spiritual Exercises” are a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God. For centuries the Exercises were most commonly given as a “long retreat” of about 30 days in solitude and silence.
◘ Voyaging to exile in Manila – with 350 other Japanese Christians, including his wife, Dona Justa Takayama, daughter Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons.
◘ Ascent to Heaven.
During the Sakoku Period, the Japanese had no way of knowing whatever happened to Ukon Takayama in Manila. With the Meiji Constitution (明治憲法), proclaimed on Feb. 11, 1889, providing for ‘freedom of religion,’ the first Japanese Catholic pilgrims arrived in Manila on Feb. 3-7, 1937 — to attend the XXXIIIrd International Eucharistic Congress being hosted by Manila. They brought with them a historical research group tracing the footsteps of Ukon Takayama in ‘Old Manila.’ This was the first Japanese Catholic delegation sent abroad since the ‘Tenshō Embassy’ (Japanese: 天正の使節) of four Japanese seminarians visited the Pope and the kings of Europe in 1582.
By coincidence, the Eucharistic Congress started on Feb. 3, 1937, the 322nd death anniversary of the ‘Kirishitan Samurai’ Justo Ukon Takayama.
Since then, students and devotees of Justo Ukon Takayama have kept the fervor burning. Now Beatified (Feb. 7, 2017), Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama is – at this stage – waiting for an ‘intercessory miracle’ required for final canonization.
►LORD JUSTO UKON TAKAYAMA (1552-1615) – known in Manila as ‘Don Justo Ukondono’ — had a reputation of being one of the ablest generals of the Sengoku Period (戦国時代). He was once the commanding general of ‘Kampaku’ Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s vanguard. Of him, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 – 1616), who would become the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603, said: “In Ukon’s hands 1,000 soldiers would be worth more than 10,000 in the hands of whosoever else.”
After Takayama was stripped of his second feudal domain at Akashi in 1587, he became a ‘ronin‘ — a masterless samurai. He sought protection from other another Christian daimyo, who was too important and too useful for Hideyoshi to harm. But within the year, Ukon found a place (with the tacit ‘approval’ of Hideyoshi) in Kanazawa – which was the domain of the Maeda, who controlled Etchū, Kaga, and Noto provinces. Here, he served as guest-general (‘Kyakusho’) of the Maeda military – while maintaining openly a Christian community (with an occasional Jesuit priest) in Noto Peninsula with some 600 Christian ‘ronin’ who had all lost their ‘samurai-status’ because of their Christianity.
IN MANILA where Lord Takayama was welcomed as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit,” Spanish Governor-General Juan de Silva (r. 1609 – 1616) visited him “almost everyday” to pump him for information about the military infrastructure of Japan.
Dedicated Christian — But True-Blue Japanese Too
But Lord Takayama, though he and his family had been exiled by Tokugawa Japan for his Christianity, was a true-blue Japanese patriot, who scoffed at the hare-brained plan of Silva (supported by two or three militant Jesuits) – to invade Japan with a Spanish expeditionary force to assist the beleaguered Christians in southern Japan – on the conceit that one armed Spaniard was equivalent to 15 fighting Japanese. Silva was also counting on the support of the Christian daimyos of the South — who would presumably fight on Spain’s side — against the Tokugawa Shogunate. Ha?
Lord Takayama tried to disabuse Silva about the feasibility of such a military plan. He pointed out that in his first feudal domain, Takatsuki which, though smallish, strategically straddled the only highway between the power centers of Kyoto and Osaka, he had a standing army of professional warriors who trained daily and were warriors year-round – unlike the farmer-soldiers of Europe who were called to arms only in case of war. In his own bailiwick, Takayama could call to arms some 20,000 men – armed with swords, spears, archers, arquebuses, hand-thrown explosives and wheeled cannons.
Each Daimyo — (There Were More Than 200) — Had a Larger Standing Army, Year-Round, Than Spanish Manila
When Takayama was transferred to Akashi (明石市), in Hyōgo Prefecture, he had an income of 60,000 ‘koku’ – meaning he could theoretically support an army of 60,000 men.
And there were 200 daimyos throughout Japan, which – though not yet united as one nation – could cohese to fight a foreign invader – just as they fought off two attempted Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇 Genkō), which were launched in 1274 and 1281 by Kublai Khan, the Mongol leader of China’s Yuan Dynasty. The entire nation was mobilized – including the dregs of society like the despised ‘wako’ who were dreaded pirates of the high seas menacing the coasts of China and the Philippines. The ‘wako’ — (Think Yakuza!) — transformed themselves into a formidable navy of their own — this time, in the service of Japan.
Two Mongol Invasion Attempts ‘Unify’ Japan, Convince the Nation It Cannot Be Invaded by Foreign Forces
Between two Mongol attempts (1274, 1281) – there was an interval of seven years, during which time, Japan’s self-defense forces camped at Kyushu’s Hakata Bay (near present-day Fukuoka, Japan) – and were housed and fed for seven years – while waiting for the expected second Mongol invasion.
(To students of Philippine history: Could a Filipino military force of 70,000 be stationed at the mouth of Manila Bay – for seven years – without dying of boredom or breaking up into intramural fights among themselves?)
UNKNOWN TO Governor-General Silva, as he was plotting in 1614-15 his military calculations for Manila — not Spain — to “invade Japan” — completely clueless about the epic scale and protracted duration of Japanese warfare — era-changing events were unfolding in Osaka as Toyotomi Hideyori (豊臣 秀頼), 22-year-old son and designated successor of the ‘Taiko’ Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), prepared to do battle with the Tokugawa who had established a Shogunate in 1603. Their first inconclusive clash (Nov. 8, 1614-Jan. 22, 1615) ended in a truce. [Notice that the battle began on the same day that Ukon’s exile boat departed for Manila.]
Ukon Is Offered Command of Hideyori’s Besieged Forces
Hideyori had sent emissaries to Nagasaki to offer Ukon the command of Toyotomi forces in the final battle between Hideyori and the Tokugawa. But his emissaries missed Ukon by three days, as the Chinese junk had sailed for Manila on Nov. 8, 1614. The emissaries followed Ukon to Manila and met Ukon at the Inner Court of the San Agustin Convent. (The garden, not damaged during World War II, is still there today).
Here was a chance for Ukon to fight on home soil again. Defending a castle he was familiar with. Against an adversary who had banished him – and his family – to Manila with the cunning calculation Ukon could never return again.
But Ukon was firm: He would spend the rest of his years in the Philippines in prayer and in spreading the Word of God.
Tokugawa Shogunate Obliterates Hideyori’s 71,500-Man Army in June 1615
The Tokugawa Shogunate put a decisive ‘finis’ to the Toyotomi clan’s challenge by totally annihilating its 71,500-man army [including Gen. Thome Naito who returned from exile in Manila, and the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Mushashi] at the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Osaka – May 26-June 3, 1615 – including Hideyori himself and his wife, Senhime, a granddaughter of Ieyasu.
Dedicated to Prayer and Evangelization
LORD JUSTO TAKAYAMA was clear: he would not return to Japan at the head of a Spanish invading force. He would dedicate the rest of his life to prayer and evangelization. As he spoke only Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, his mission field in Manila was limited to some 3,000 Japanese non-Christian settlers in the Paco area. Which is what he proceeded to undertake.
Accompanied by his five grandsons, and ‘shadowed’ by his volunteer bodyguards – the three Christian ‘ronin’ Hayakawa Uhyoe; Shibayama Gombei, and Ukita Kyukan who had been in Ukon’s Catholic community in Noto Peninsula – Don Justo made a number of converts in the Franciscan parish of Paco, and brought them to baptism at the Paco Catholic Church (today, San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church) – with his grandsons standing as baptismal sponsors.
Surrendering ‘Samurai Sword’ to Franciscans?
To signal his firm resolve to live out his days in prayer, Takayama surrendered his trusty samurai sword – not to the militant Jesuits, many of whom were ex-military, like their founder, St. Ignatius de Loyola (1491-1556) – but to the peace-loving Franciscans, whose six Franciscan confreres drew the first blood of martyrdom at Nagasaki in the first martyrdoms ordered by Hideyoshi on Feb. 5, 1597. The first martyrs, now canonized as saints, are venerated today as “The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki.”
Why the Franciscans? Takayama had actually never met any Franciscan friars in Japan. When the first Franciscan missionaries arrived in Japan, Ukon was already a back-number in Kanazawa, where he spent 26 years in domestic exile. But in 1597, when the first list of martyrs was being drawn-up by Hideyoshi’s officials, Takayama, as Japan’s most celebrated ‘Kirishitan Samurai,’ had topped the list – a martyrdom Takayama welcomed, if God so willed.
But Ukon’s name was crossed-out after two ‘great daimyo’ — Lord Maeda Toshiie (who, since 1588, had been the liege lord of Ukon who commanded Lord Maeda’s troops in support of Hideyoshi’s campaign at Odawara in 1590) and Lord Ishida Mitsunari (1563-1600), daimyō of Sawayama in Ōmi Province, a 500,000-koku fief (now a part of Hikone) — asked Hideyoshi not to humiliate and crucify Ukon — in a grim parody of Calvary. There were too many uncalculated consequences.
YEARS AGO, I checked out the ‘sword tale’ with the Franciscan archivist, Fr. Pedro Ruano, OFM, asking where ‘Takayama’s Samurai Sword’ could be. He said, “It would be in Madrid – if we have it in the first place.”
One day, someone will get to check out this slender historical thread. But in the scheme of things, this is just a tantalizing history factoid for now.#
►When Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) arrived in Manila with 350 Japanese Christian exiles on Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614 — tea, coffee and ‘tsokolate’ were the hot drinks of choice in the Walled City. The Chinese traded and settled in the Philippines for hundreds of years before the Spaniards came, so tea was just another health drink, available by the kettle at the bazaars of the ‘Parian de los Sanglayes.’
Tea from China was being served in Manila like an everyday beverage. There was no ceremony like the Japanese developed.
Certainly, Lord Takayama was the first Japanese authority on the Japanese Tea Ceremony to arrive in Manila. But the Jesuit accounts did not contain any reference that Takayama had introduced the ceremony. It is unlikely that Takayama would have thought of the Manila Cathedral as a proper venue for such a cultural encounter.
Did Ukon Takayama Bring Utensils for the Japanese Tea Ceremony to Manila?
When Ukon Takayama bade goodbye in February 14, 1614 to Lord Toshinaga Maeda (1562-June 7, 1614) — who was uncertain whether Takayama would fight the Tokugawa deportation order – Maeda accepted the proffer of gold nuggets Ukon earned for the previous year, but declined the tea utensils which Takayama prized so much. Presumably, Ukon brought with him these utensils (and a supply of green tea) on his voyage to exile.
Sen no Rikyū, the leading teamaster of the regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi, is perhaps the best-known — and still revered — historical figure in tea ceremony. He followed his master Takeno Jōō‘s concept of ichi-go ichi-e, a philosophy that each meeting should be treasured, for it can never be reproduced. His teachings perfected many newly developed forms in architecture and gardens, art, and the full development of the “Way of Tea.” The principles he set forward — harmony (和 wa), respect (敬 kei), purity (清 sei), and tranquility (寂 jaku) — are still central to tea ceremony today.
Ukon Takayama was one of seven prized pupils of Sen no Rikyū (1522 – April 21, 1591), who is considered the historical figure with the most profound influence on the development of Chanoyu. Ukon, who is always included in the variable list of the celebrated Rikyushichitetsu (Rikyu’s Seven), was credited with refining the tea ceremony into a serene celebration, with ritual movements “almost like a Mass.” The spirit of the art of tea – characterized by the qualities of harmony, reverence, purity, and tranquility — found in Ukon Takayama its Christian transfiguration.
Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Manila Cathedral
During Cardinal Jaime Sin’s stewardship as Manila Archbishop (1974-2003), he permitted some Japanese teamasters from the Urasenke School to celebrate their tea ceremony at the Manila Cathedral – right in front of the main altar. They brought the story that Lord Takayama had been the first to celebrate the Japanese tea ceremony in Manila – at the Manila Cathedral itself.
The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the ‘Way of Tea,’ is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (抹茶), powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯) or sadō, chadō (茶道), while the manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae ([お]手前; [お]点前). As demonstrated by Dr. Genshitsu Sen XV,15th Grand Master of the Urasenke Tea School at the Manila Cathedral, the elaborate and refined Japanese tea ceremony is meant to demonstrate respect through grace and good etiquette.
Since the 16th Century, the Japanese tradition of tea ceremony has aimed at attaining serenity through the sharing of a bowl of tea. Dr. Genshitsu Sen XV travels all over the world to promote his idea of achieving “Peace on Earth — Through a Bowl of Tea.” As he did at the Manila Cathedral, he conducted a formal tea offering service at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in New York, in a prayer for World Peace. The church was filled with attendees, who joined with Dr. Sen in this solemn service praying for “Peace on Earth — Through a Bowl of Tea.”
He has participated in numerous other events focused on fostering peace, for instance in the United Nations (the Millennium Assembly in 2000, and the General Assembly in 2010) and in Pearl Harbor (Hawaii).
I CHANCED upon a “corroborative” blog, “Adnilem’s Journey” <www.adnilemel.blogspot.com> by a Filipina resident of Japan. After two decades in Japan, she had finally decided to enroll in a class on the tea ceremony in 2009. The class was conducted by Prof. Shizuo Mochizuki of Urasenke International Association.
“At long last… after my 20 years stay here in Japan… I had the chance to attend the Japanese culture of CHADOU or known as tea ceremony class… The class is sponsored by Shizuoka City Association for Multicultural Exchange. Our class is lucky to have a good and humorous instructor, Prof. Shizuo Mochizuki of Urasenke International Association. In the course of the lecture on “Chadou,” Prof. Mochizuki discussed its history, philosophy and manners. He taught us that the “Chadou” (literally, “Way of Tea”) translation of tea ceremony is not proper. It should be “tea gathering.” Tea ceremony refers to the Buddist priests or monks who formally offer tea to the temple or shrine’s Buddha. Tea gathering is to enjoy the spirit of tea in a warm and relaxed atmosphere.
“Learning that I came from the Philippines, Prof. Shizuo Mochizuki told the class that he had been to Philippines with his tea associates and his memorable experience was at the Manila Cathedral where they were shown an antique feather brush used as one of the tools in tea preparation. It was presented to the church [Manila Cathedral] by a well-known Japanese Catholic tea master — Minami-no-Bô TAKAYAMAHida no-kami, better known as Takayama Ukon — who was exiled to Philippines in the old era.”
That anecdote would mean Lord Takayama Ukon – who was known in tea circles as Minami-no-Bô TAKAYAMAHida no-kami — had performed the tea ceremony for a select group during his 44-day sojourn in Manila. At the Manila Cathedral (III) itself.
A Sen-no-Rikyū Souvenir?
The ‘antique feather brush used as one of the tools in tea preparation’ belonging to Ukon Takayama is well-remembered in Japanese tea-circles. It had been given to Ukon as a gift from Sen no Rikyū.
Could it be true? The Manila Cathedral of 1614 was the THIRD edifice on the site. The Manila Cathedral in post-war Manila is Cathedral No. 8. Could the tea implement have survived the transition from Manila Cathedral #3 (in 1614) to Cathedral #8 (during Cardinal Sin’s stewardship in 1974-2003)?#
►To ferret out “Hidden Christians” and their sympathizers, the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868) instituted the annual ‘fumi-e’ test in 1629.
As part of its aggressive campaign to find these hidden Kirishitans – and stamp out the Christian religion, the Tokugawa government required:
◘ All citizens to be registered as members of their local Buddhist temple.
◘ They instituted the ‘fumi-e’ system — public rituals on a regular basis where everyone was ordered to trample on ‘fumi-e’ which were Christian images usually made of bronze depicting Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary. This system, introduced in Nagasaki in 1629, continued until February 12, 1858.
Death for Refusal to Stomp on Christian Image
Anyone who refused to step on the ‘fumi-e’ (踏み絵 fumi “stepping-on” + e “picture”) was put to death. Catholics who refused to change their religion were tortured. As many of them still refused to abandon the religion, they were killed by the government. Many executions took place at Nagasaki’s Mount Unzen, where some were boiled in the hot springs. Many Kirishitans went bravely to their deaths this way – as, with no missionaries to forgive them of their sin – they preferred martyrdom over the sin of abandoning their faith.
Not all who trampled on the holy or venerated images were apostates. Some philosophized as they grappled with the test of faith. For instance, one ran home to wash the offending foot, boil the water, and drink it – to expiate the offense.
However, some Kirishitans complied and trampled the images while secretly holding onto the faith they had publicly renounced. The rite of contrition took on a new prominence among secret Kirishitans as a way of dealing with the guilt.
Ruthless Campaign Forces Christianity to be Practiced Underground – Even Without Priests
The persecution of Kirishitans was ruthless. Informers were rewarded, and whenever Kirishitans were discovered, even their neighbors were put to death. This forced the Kirishitan believers to go underground.
The use of the ‘fumi-e’ test was officially abandoned when ports opened to foreigners on April 13, 1856, but some remained in use until Christian teaching was placed under formal protection during the Meiji Period.
In modern Japanese literature, treading on the ‘fumi-e’ is a pivotal plot element of the novel ‘Silence‘ by Shusaku Endo.
Many theologians have tried to contemplate the role of the ‘fumi-e’ to Japanese Christians, some seeing the treading of the ‘fumi-e’ as a sign of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Grim Toll for Japan’s Martyr Church
How many martyrs lost their lives because of the ‘fumi-e’ test? Nobody really knows. But the estimates reach as many as 30,000 martyrs.
‘Fumi-e’ were usually carved out of stone, but others were painted and some were wooden block prints. Many, if not all, of these works were made with care, and they reflected the high artistic standards of the Edo period.
There are very few existing ‘fumi-e,’ as most were simply thrown away or recycled into other uses. Some surviving examples were displayed by the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington DC, in their 2007 exhibition “Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries.”
A Genuine ‘Fumi-e’ Is In Manila — At U.S.T.
A copy of the ‘fumi-e’ was presented to Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Takayama Trustee, by the renowned Kyoto Catholic layman, Ryohei Fujimoto. This, in turn, has been presented to Rev. Fr. Rolando dela Rosa, OP, then Rector Magnificus of the University of Santo Tomas (UST). Father dela Rosa has kept the framed ‘fumi-e’ at his office at the UST Ecclesiastical Faculty.#
►In 2016, townmates built granite statues to honor Lord Ukon Takayama and Lady Justa ‘Shino’ Takayama in Toyono-cho (Osaka), birthplace of Ukon Takayama (1552-1615). This is the first representation seen of Mrs. Takayama.
After the death of Ukon in Manila (Feb. 3, 1615), Doña Justa returned to Kanazawa (with daughter Lucia Yokoyama and one grandson) in mid-1616 to bury a finger of Takayama in the home country. She used the alias Mrs. [Justa] Rokuzayemon during her voyage to Japan. She later settled in Oita City – a 7-hour train ride away (in 2018) from Kanazawa.
The Cross that marked the spot where Takayama’s finger was buried still exists in a forested area outside Kanazawa – undisturbed during 250 years of virulent anti-Christian persecution. Rev. Minoru Yamagata, pastor of the “Jun-ai Christ Church” of Kanazawa City, brought Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro, Takayama Trustee, to the site in the course of a journey through Japan tracing all the places associated with Lord Takayama.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Blessed Takayama Canonization Movement
Photos by Erwin M. de Pedro (Takayama Trustee) and (mostly by) Maricar Santos (Archdiocese of Manila – Office of Communications)
►In his homily, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle set the tone of the Eucharistic Concelebration: “Through Blessed Ukon Takayama [‘martyred’ in Manila, Feb. 3, 1615], through St. Lorenzo Ruiz [martyred in Nagasaki, Sept. 29, 1637] — Japan and the Philippines will always be one. Let us give witness to the world of the power of love that comes from the heart of Jesus. Let us now pause and continue thanking God for the gift of Jesus, the gift of mission and the gift of the great martyrs like Blessed Ukon Takayama.”
* * * * *
The Celebration of the First Blessed Takayama Feastday Took Two Days to Unfold
FIRST CONCELEBRATION — at Paco Parish Church
◘ 4:30 PM, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 – Directly to Paco Parish Church where Lord Takayama’s converts among Japanese non-Christian expatriates were baptized — the 60-man Takayama Pilgrim Group, led by six Japanese Bishops came — straight from the Manila Airport — to concelebrate a Thanksgiving Mass.
Paco Parish Church (where parishioners number some 92,000) is the first church in the Philippines that enshrined an altar statue of Blessed Takayama on Dec. 21, 2017 — 403th anniversary of the 1614 arrival of ‘Lord Takayama and 350 Japanese Christian Exiles.’
The lead celebrant was Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami. Concelebrating were: ♦ Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD, ♦ Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints), ♦ Sapporo Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya, ♦ Kagoshima Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama, and ♦ Naha Bishop Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM.
Also concelebrating were ♦ Rev. Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz, Paco parish priest; ♦ Fr. Carlo del Rosario, parochial vicar, and two Manila-based Japanese priests: ♦ Fr. Iwao Ikegami, FMVD, and ♦ Fr. Johya Kijima.
RECALLING that Lord Takayama and thousands of Japanese Christians were refugees in the Philippines, one Tokyo-based Filipina pilgrim, Puchie Gan, a member of the ‘Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities’ (GFGC), writes: “Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon whose faith was unwavering and who lived a life of holiness until his death” … serves as the inspiration to Filipino migrants in Japan.
SECOND CONCELEBRATION — at Manila Cathedral
◘ 11:00 AM, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 — Manila Cathedral Celebrates the First Feastday of Blessed Takayama (1552-1615) – a true ‘Son of Manila.’ In Church rubric, ‘where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.’ That’s why the Manila Archdiocese proposed Takayama as the first saint of his adopted country, the Philippines in 1630.
THIRD CONCELEBRATION — at U.S.T. Chapel
◘ 5:15 PM, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 — As it has since 1988, the UST Chapel (Santísimo Rosario Church) was the venue of a Thanksgiving Mass for Blessed Takayama – with Kyoto Bishop Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka, Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints, as Main Celebrant. Concelebrating with him were four Dominican priests – (l-r) ♦ Fr. Jose Antonio E. Aureada, OP ♦ Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, OP ♦ Fr. Louie B. Coronel, OP and ♦ Fr. Arturo P. Pestin, OP.
Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, OP, UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs, delivered the homily.
* * * * *
Main Eucharistic Concelebration at the Manila Cathedral
The main celebration at the Manila Cathedral involved prelates from the Philippines, Japan and the Vatican.
◘ His Eminence, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – Manila Archbishop since Dec. 12, 2011 — was the main celebrant.
◘ Three Archbishops concelebrated the Eucharistic Mass — ♦ Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia ♦ Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, and ♦ Tokyo Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD.
◘ Four Japanese Bishops also concelebrated: ♦ Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Chair of the CBCJ Commission for the Promotion of Saints), ♦ Sapporo Bishop Bernard Taiji Katsuya, ♦ Kagoshima Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama, and ♦ Naha Bishop Emeritus Berard Toshio Oshikawa, OFM.
◘ Twenty-five (25) priests – among them: ♦ Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz; ♦ Fr. Carlo del Rosario; ♦ Fr. Dandy Parafina; ♦ Fr. Marlito G. Ocon, SJ; ♦ Fr. Martin Licup, SJ, and four priests with the Takayama Pilgrims’ Group from Japan: ♦ Fr. Benerando Raul Gumanit, MSP ♦ Fr. Joya Kijima ♦ Fr. Ryohei Miyashita and ♦ Fr. Jose Norella III, MSP. (For the record, the names of 16 other priests will be listed too.)
Music was furnished by the Manila Cathedral Ministry of Music.
Logo of Blessed Takayama
The Mass vestments (see photos above and below) bore the logo used at the Blessed Takayama Beatification Rites. The logo was designed by Sr. M. Esther Kitazume, of the Sisters of Disciples of the Divine Master.
The emblem reproduces seven round circles of the Takayama family, with the Cross and three rings in the background. Each circle represents members of Ukon’s family and also the seven sacraments and seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Cross is a sign of Ukon’s offer of his life for faith.
Concelebrated Mass, Including Cardinal Tagle’s Homily, Livestreamed on Facebook
MANILA ARCHBISHOP Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle enjoined the Filipino faithful and Japanese pilgrims: “Be martyrs … by giving yourself to others and finding meaning in suffering.”
Cardinal Tagle urged the faithful to emulate Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, a Japanese Christian who was persecuted for his faith and died in exile in Manila.
BUT IN THESE MODERN TIMES, Cardinal Tagle pointed out that one “does not have to wait for martyrdom” and that Catholics “are invited to be martyrs every day.”
“Every day, we are asked by Jesus to be with Him, to be witnesses to His love. So give yourself to others and be united with them in their suffering,” Tagle said.
In his homily, Tagle cited Blessed Takayama’s life, especially his choice to remain true to his faith even if he had a chance to save himself by simply renouncing it.
“He knew the dangers, he was given a chance to turn away from Jesus and his faith. But he remained faithful to Jesus. Others said he was crazy for not saving his life,” the prelate said.
But in today’s times, Blessed Takayama’s “foolishness” is now a source of wisdom and strength for Catholics, Tagle said.
The prelate added that the Christian understanding of suffering is to give life to others in an ultimate act of love.
“It is not looking for suffering because we enjoy it. It is love, it is mission, it is a gift of self that gives someone like Jesus the strength to suffer and die. With love, you can suffer meaningfully and in a manner that gives life to others,” Tagle said.
Tagle added: “Have no fear, love and when you love you will have the strength to suffer. People who love but are afraid of suffering do not know how to love.”
BLESSED JUSTO TAKAYAMA was a Japanese samurai and ‘Daimyo’ (feudal lord) who lived during the Sengoku period (戦国時代 Sengoku Jidai, “Age of Warring States”; c1467–c1603) in Japan, and was baptized as a Catholic with the name, Justo, when he was only 12.
In 1587, Christians were ordered expelled from Japan and all Christian feudal lords asked to renounce their faith.
REFUSING TO GIVE UP his faith, Blessed Takayama was expelled from his feudal domain of Akashi in 1587 – and became a ronin, a masterless samurai. In the first year, he was protected by well-placed Christian allies.
He and his family – wife Justa Takayama, married daughter Lucia Yokoyama, and five grandsons – were eventually forced to leave their homeland. Given a choice between Manila and Macau, he chose Manila because his Spanish Jesuit father-confessor, Fr. Pedro Morejon, SJ, was Manila-bound. The overloaded Chinese junk, which normally sailed the route from Nagasaki to Manila in 20 days, took 43 days to reach Manila, as it was buffeted by a severe typhoon that snapped its main mast into two, off the coast of Bataan.
Arriving in Manila in Sunday, Dec. 21, 1614, ‘Lord Takayama and 350 Japanese Christian exiles’ were warmly welcomed by Spanish Jesuits and Filipino Christians. The cannons of Fort Santiago boomed and church bells in Intramuros’ six Churches rang in welcome.
However, 40 days after his arrival (on Jan. 30), he fell ill “of a tropical illness,” and – like St. Francis Xavier who died several days after falling ill on Shangchuan Island, off the southern coast of Guangdong, China on Dec. 3, 1552 (the year Ukon was born) – Ukon died on Feb. 3, 1615. His sojourn in Manila lasted only 44 days – as the cunning Tokugawa Ieyasu had hoped for.
Pope Francis’ Decree of Martyrdom (2016)
When Pope Francis’ Decree of Martyrdom was issued on Jan. 21, 2016, Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, Jesuit General Postulator, explained: “Since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatment he suffered in his homeland, the process … is that of a martyr.”
In his decree, Pope Francis recognized Justo Ukon Takayama as a “loyal Japanese layman, who was martyred in Manila in 1615.” The Holy Father said: “Rather than compromise, Ukon renounced honors and prosperity and accepted humiliation and exile. He remained faithful to Christ and to the Gospel; for this, he is a wonderful example of strength in the faith and dedication in charity.”
* * * * *
A Welcome Entreaty for an Altar Statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama for Laoag
►During the Takayama Thanksgiving Mass, the Bishop of Laoag, Msgr. Renato Mayugba entreated the Japanese Bishops to make Laoag Diocese the first outside Manila to enshrine a Takayama altar statue — at St. William Cathedral (est. 1580; current church built in 1612).
THE DIOCESE OF LAOAG has 22 parishes – and a ‘Japanese connection.’
In 1620, fisherfolk found two crates floating in the sea off the shores of Badoc town, Ilocos Norte — presumably off-floated from a Japanese church desperate to save them from destruction by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
One crate contained the statue of the ‘Black Cristo Milagroso’ — (as ebony as the ‘Black Nazarene’ at Quiapo) — now enshrined in Badoc’s adjoining town, Sinait, Ilocos Sur.
The other crate contained the statue of the Blessed Virgin — “with Japanese features” — cradling the Infant Jesus in her arms. The Marian statue is revered today as ‘La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.’ Devotees call her “Mary, Cause of Our Joy — Patroness of Ilocos Norte.”
The canonical coronation of “La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc” is on May 31, 2018.
* * * * *
At the Sidelines of the Takayama Feastday
◘ Veneration of Takayama Relic
For the first time since the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) presented the Manila Cathedral with a Takayama Relic – church-goers were invited to venerate it.
◘ ‘Estampitas’ or Prayer Cards
Prayer cards in Tagalog were distributed by both the CBCJ and the Manila-based Blessed Justo Takayama Canonization Movement.
The CBCJ prayer cards enjoined – in Tagalog – all Takayama devotees to report any purported “miracle through the intercession of Blessed Takayama” – to the Bishop of the Diocese where the miracle happened. For better coordination – whatever country it is from – also inform <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com>. The concerned ecclesiastical authorities will be alerted.
◘ Some Desperate Cases, Imploring Blessed Takayama’s Intercession, Attended the Takayama Mass
Some severe medical cases imploring Blessed Takayama’s intercession attended the Mass. For months they had been praying on the basis of ‘estampitas’ or prayer cards. Now, the Takayama Movement presented those on its waiting list — with 12” Takayama statuettes to help them focus on their devotion.
◘ First Japanese Pilgrimage (8:30 AM, Feb. 3, 2018) to PLM University Chapel
The Jesuit Compound (now the PLM Campus), is where Lord Justo Takayama sojourned for 44 days (since arriving on Dec. 21, 1614); died on Feb. 3, 1615 – and was buried near the High Altar of the Jesuits’ Santa Ana Church, in the Jesuits’ expectation that he would soon be raised to the honors of the High Altar.
For the first time in 403 years – Japanese pilgrims step on ‘hallowed ground’ as they visit the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) where the University Chapel was inaugurated by Cardinal Jaime Sin on Dec. 17, 1990.#
◘ ‘Sketching Blessed Takayama’ as Prayer
Having no Takayama ‘estampitas’ — in English or Tagalog — to focus on, a Filipino cancer patient in Tokyo drew his own imaginings of what Takayama looked like.
The ‘Paintings/Sketches of Blessed Takayama’ by the Filipino artist +Noel Velez (1951-Jan. 14, 2018) as he lay dying in a Tokyo hospital – and died only 20 days before the Takayama Feastday in Manila — was published in a slim booklet by his widow Puchie Gan – and presented to Cardinal Tagle before the Takayama Thanksgiving Mass on Feb. 3, 2018.
A graduate in Bachelor of Philosophy from the Our Lady of the Angels Seminary, Noel moved to Tokyo in 1990 to join his wife, Puchie Gan. He worked as Staff Designer for Sesame Street/Japan and served as Musician and Pastoral volunteer in the Archdiocese of Tokyo. The passion for the art was heightened during the battle with cancer of the lungs. Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon whose faith was unwavering and who lived a life of holiness until his death served as the inspiration for all the artwork in this book.
Noel died on Jan. 14, 2018 at Juntendo University Hospital in Nerima-takanodai, Tokyo. Fr. Russell Becker, OFM, pastor of Franciscan Chapel Center in Roppongi, Tokyo — where the Velezes serve as Music Ministers — administered the Last Rites.
Noel’s widow, Puchie Gan, attended the Takayama Thanksgiving Mass. with a Filipino-Japanese delegation from the ‘Gathering of Filipino Groups and Communities’ (GFGC) from Tokyo.#
* * * * *
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Blessed Justo Takayama Canonization Movement
►The Thanksgiving Mass to mark Blessed Takayama’s first Feastday was concelebrated at the Manila Cathedral Basilica, where Ukon Takayama and his exiled family had worshipped in 1614-1615. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was the lead celebrant – with three Archbishops, four Japanese Bishops and 25 Priests concelebrating.
* * * * *
MY DEAR BROTHERS and sisters in Christ, we give thanks and praise to God for this day. We thank God for giving us the opportunity to be one community so that we could be renewed by his word, by his presence, by his spirit and also, by the gift of holy men and women to the church and to society.
Today, we give thanks to God for the gift of Blessed Ukon Justo Takayama and we welcome all of you. We welcome especially our dear bishops from Japan and all the pilgrims from Japan. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the Manila Cathedral, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. We hope you will enjoy your stay in the Philippines. We hope also you will experience a renewal in discipleship in following Christ as we remember Blessed Ukon.
And to the Filipinos, we hope that we will receive Blessed Ukon Takayama who died as a martyr here in Manila. From Japan he blessed our soil, our land testimony of faith and of heroism. I’m sorry I cannot speak in Japanese, I cannot translate my homily into Japanese. But those of you who understand English maybe you can tell your friends later what I reflected upon.
Some people wonder whether Christians glorify suffering. The say how come you worship Jesus on the cross and you venerate the memory of martyrs those who have suffered? Are we making suffering some sort of a fashionable or glamorous thing? Is it an excuse for all the pain that the world experiences? I think the readings for the feast of Blessed Ukon gives us the Christian understanding. It is not in order to encourage inflicting suffering and pain on other people.
But we look to Jesus how did he look at suffering. And we see in the Gospel that Jesus has an integrated suffering within his mission. It is not accepting suffering in itself but in the context of mission, he finds meaning in suffering. His mission is to fulfill the will of the Father that humanity maybe saved. Jesus glorifies the Father by fulfilling his mission.
And if suffering is involved in fulfilling his mission He says yes. He is saying yes to the mission and if suffering is included in the mission, He will accept it too as He accepts His mission. And so it becomes a moment to glorify God. It is also a moment for him to be the seed of grain that falls to the earth and dies. It is a suffering with other people, by his suffering He becomes one with the earth, one with human beings, one with suffering creation.
His suffering is an act of solidarity. So, it is not just enjoying suffering. It is a suffering that has a meaning. It is a suffering for a mission. It is a suffering for the others. And so, it is not just a suffering it is giving of my life so that others may live. The world sees suffering but Jesus sees a gift of life. That’s a totally different perspective that’s why in the Eucharist we remember that; this is my body for you. This is my blood for you. May I know who among you here are parents with children?
Well you have a mission to be a good parent and part of the mission is a lot of suffering. You work hard not for yourself but for them. You get sick but still go to work. And you embrace that suffering because of your mission for them. Even if they are already grown up you are worried about them. You suffered daily because of your concerned for them. But it is because of your mission and because of your communion, solidarity with them. It is not useless. It is a gift of life for them, for others. So, it is not looking for suffering because we enjoy suffering. No, it is love. It is mission. It is gift of self that gives someone like Jesus the strength to suffer and die. With love you can suffer meaningfully and in the manner that gives life to others.
That’s why St. Paul in the first reading reminds us, when you suffer for God, when you suffer for others, when you suffer because of a mission, when you suffer because you’re giving yourselves out of love then, you are united with God. Some people when they suffer, they ask where is God? Has God abandoned me? But St. Paul says, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus in the Gospel says, “Where I am I want you to be there too.” Jesus is loving us unto death and He wants us to be united with him. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ who first love us and who loved us with all the sufferings that love can endure. So, why will we fear?
Have no fear. Love. And when you love you will have the strength to suffer People who love but are afraid of suffering do not know how to love. It is love for God, for others that gives someone the strength even to die. We are celebrating the love of Christ manifested to us in and through Blessed Ukon Justo Takayama. He knew the dangers. He was given a chance to turn away from Jesus and his faith. But he said no. I will keep my faith. I will remain faithful to Jesus. The world will say, Ukon, are you crazy? Why not save your life? Yes, he might be crazy. Crazy, because of love. He became foolish because he loved. And he paid the price of his love. But now his foolishness is wisdom for us. His weakness is strength for us. He’s telling all of us. Have no fear love. Love, love. And when you love, you know nothing can separate you from the strength that comes from Christ.
We are invited to be martyrs, witnesses every day. We don’t need to wait for martyrdom by blood. Every day, in our state of life we are asked by Jesus, “be with me witness to my love”. Give yourself to your mission, for others. Be united with sufferings. Nothing should separate you from the love of Christ. When we were singing the “Gloria,” you hear a lot of bells and bells. That’s okay, because according to the historical records when Ukon and his family and companions landed here in Manila the bells of the churches were rang including the bells of Manila Cathedral. And the missionaries, the Spanish missionaries, the Jesuits and the Christians here welcomed him. Already at the time they considered him a martyr, a witness to the love that won’t say no even to the point of suffering. So, now we are happy that the church had recognized him and from Japan, Philippines he will give witness to the whole world to the universal church.
So let us rejoice, give thanks to God and let us be one. Through Ukon, through Lorenzo Ruiz — Japan and the Philippines will always be one. Let us give witness to the world of the power of love that comes from the heart of Jesus. Let us now pause and continue thanking God for the gift of Jesus, the gift of mission and the gift of the great martyrs like Blessed Ukon.#
►These photographs offer sceneries of Ukon’s birthplace on Feb. 3, 2018 – 403rd death anniversary of Ukon — which the town wishes to share with Takayama devotees in the Philippines.
Tono-cho has, of course, no Catholic Church for a Memorial Mass. As in Takayama’s time, it has been 99.63% Shinto/Buddhist, but the town is very proud of their ‘Kirishitan Samurai’ who has been hailed as ‘the epitome of the Japanese spirit.’
In lieu of a Thanksgiving Mass – ‘as you are having at the Manila Cathedral’ — ‘we had a memorial Ukon musical performed by residents of Toyono on February 3 and 4.’
Toyono-cho on February 3 was ‘covered by some snow.’
These terraced paddies must have looked exactly like these some 400 years ago.
A stone marker claims that Ukon Takayama was born in Takayama Village in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture.
In the far background, Takayama Village may be seen.
Takaki Ohnishi, Manager of the Agriculture, Forestry, Commerce, Industrial and Tourism Division, of the Toyono-cho Government, writes about the February environment in Toyono-cho:
‘Here in Toyono-cho, it gets very cold and snows quite often.
This climate makes vegetables sweet and ambrosial!’
* * * * *
Indeed! When Toyono-cho residents make a pilgrimage to Manila this April — to visit the places in Old Manila associated with Blessed Takayama — Trustees of Takayama will be waiting to welcome them!#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Blessed Takayama Canonization Movement