►The beatification of Justo Takayama Ukon on 7 February 2017 in Osaka, Japan necessitates a special remembrance of Takayama’s special bond with the Jesuits in the Philippines.
First Boatload of Japanese Refugees Arrive in Manila
In 1614, when news of persecution launched by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in Japan had reached Manila, Fr. Valerio de Ledesma, provincial of the Philippines, offered refuge for the Jesuits in Japan. The Provincial also went around raising the interest of Manila citizens in order to stir up compassion toward the persecuted Church. By December, a group of [some 350] Japanese Catholics, including 15 catechists, and a community of beatas of around 14 to 16 sisters of the Religious of Meako with their mother superior, Julia Naito, and the households of Lord Justo Takayama of Sawa Castle and Lord Joan Naito of Yagi Castle (brother of the mother superior), arrived in Manila and was welcomed with veneration being part of the larger heroic Church in Japan.
“The reception given them was what one would expect from a city like Manila. When they arrived at the shore they were saluted by artillery from the fort and the nearby ramparts; nobility, citizens and religious accompanying them to the royal quarters where the Audiencia with its President, the Governor and Captain-General [Juan de Silva], awaited there. From there they went to the Cathedral where a solemn Te Deum was sung and from there to the houses and lodgings prepared for them.”
With them too were 22 Jesuits. They were then absorbed by the Philippine Province and distributed between College of Manila and San Miguel residence along the banks of Pasig. The exiled lay were assigned by the Spanish crown to the Jesuit parish of San Miguel.
Takayama and Naito belonged to the nobility. Their being Catholics afforded them removal from their noble ranks and positions as daimyos, giving up of their castles and kingdoms during the shogunate of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and eventually their expulsion from Japan by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
During the reading of the life of Justo Takayama in the beatification ceremony, it was mentioned that Tokugawa intended to avoid the possibility of martyrdom for the Christian samurais and thus sent them into exile.
Two months after arriving in Manila, on 3 February 1615, Takayama died of a “tropical illness.” He was given a state funeral by Governor de Silva and was buried at the altar area along with former superiors in the Jesuit church of Sta. Ana in Intramuros, the first stone church of the Jesuits in the Philippines, designed and patterned by Fr. Antonio Sedeño after Il Gesu in Rome.
Search for the Bones of Blessed Takayama
Four centuries after, an attempt to search for Takayama’s bones have been made. Due to the destruction of Sta. Ana church caused by earthquakes in the early 17th century, the eventual construction of a new church under the patronage of San Ignacio, and, ultimately, the expulsion of the Jesuits from all the Spanish dominions, including the Philippines in 1768, it became an elusive task to find it.
However, in 2012, an effort was made to search for Takayama’s bones in the Jesuit cemetery in Sacred Heart Novitiate by a group of Japanese representing the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan led by Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka of Kyoto, along with Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB, Fr. Renzo de Luca, S.J. and Fr. Albert Fuyuki Hirabayashi, S.J, for a possibility that the human remains, including Takayama’s, from [Intramuros’] Sta. Ana church were re-interred in the first San Ignacio church of the pre-suppression period, and then to the second San Ignacio church, before all of its bones were finally transferred to Sacred Heart Novitiate cemetery.
Despite all these labors, Blessed Justo Takayama’s remains are yet to be found.#
►For Dr. Ernesto de Pedro, the Takayama Canonization Movement started out as a research paper – to explain to visiting Japanese why Lord Takayama was chosen as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao in 1977.
In 1986, a group of Japanese history buffs asked De Pedro to find out who Takayama was – whether he was an actual historical figure – or whether he was the composite of several Japanese medieval heroes. It was then rumored that Takayama was also a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church, but nobody knew whether there was any basis for that pious talk.
To De Pedro’s surprise, the Vatican Archives confirmed that the Manila Archdiocese had proposed on Oct. 5, 1630 the beatification of the exiled Japanese Christian samurai, Dom Justo Ukon Takayama – as the first ever candidate for sainthood from the Philippine Church. Under Church rubrics, “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven.” Thus, Takayama was considered a “Catholic of heroic virtue” — from Manila.
The Vatican had a carton-box-full of historical documents about Takayama written in several languages – but Vatican study on them could not proceed till they were all translated to Latin or English. Could De Pedro undertake the translation – “pro-bono” — within two years?
Of course, De Pedro accepted the assignment. Then, the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ., added: After the papers are translated, could De Pedro join the historical committee that would discuss the life and heroic virtues of Takayama? (A BSBA graduate, invited to sit at a Vatican history panel?)
PhD at U.S.T.
Upon his return from Rome, De Pedro felt compelled, at age 50, to earn a PhD in History at the Graduate School of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) – where he later taught.
After the Takayama papers were submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS), Takayama was declared a “Servant of God” on June 5, 1994.
Having passed the FIRST of four canonical steps to sainthood — the three other steps being ● Venerable, ● Blessed, then ● Saint – it was necesssary for supporters of the “Cause of Takayama” to grow devotion for the Servant of God, Justo Ukon Takayama — in the City of Manila where he died (i.e., “where he was born to Heaven.”)
Support Organization at U.S.T.
At this point, De Pedro realized that in Manila, where Takayama had died in 1615, there was no Manila-based support for the “Cause of Takayama.” He would have to organize one himself — with his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, as its core.
►In 1988, De Pedro incorporated the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation. (Sept. 29, 1988)
►After obtaining from Oxford University a copy of the English biography of Takayama, “A Briefe Relation of the Persecution Lately Made Against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia” (Saint-Omer, France: English College Press, 1619. 350p) written by Takayama’s Jesuit father-confessor, Padre Pedro Morejon, published four years after Takayama’s death in Manila — De Pedro ventured to lecture in Japan about Takayama. From the lecture fees he earned, he endowed the “Lord Justus Takayama Professorial Chair in Philippine-Japanese Studies” (Feb. 4, 1989) at UST.
The first Takayama Lecture was delivered by Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo on Feb. 3, 1990. Twenty-five years later, Dr. Hornedo was again invited to deliver the Takayama Lecture in 2015.
After 31 years, the Chair still has P429,814.38 — as of Nov. 30, 2017.
►At UST Graduate School, De Pedro organized two International Symposia on Lord Takayama (in 1989 & 1998), which attracted scholars from Japan, the United States, the Vatican and the Philippines.
►When the “Takayama Garden Restaurant” at Greenhills, San Juan City, relocated to Jupiter St., Makati, De Pedro persuaded the owners to donate the Takayama statue that was at the center of the restaurant to UST. This statue now stands at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC).
Promotion of ‘the Cause’
►Since 1988, UST Chapel has been the venue for annual Takayama Memorial Masses – with Filipino and Japanese Cardinals and ApostolicNuncios as celebrants.
►Since 1988, De Pedro has organized Takayama Pilgrim Tours for Japanese. The largest tour group so far has been 280. The Department of Tourism goal is to produce one tour group of 350 Japanese Pilgrims — which is the same number as the Christian exiles in Takayama’s exile boat.
Seven (7) bishops out of Japan’s 16 dioceses, including Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, have already visited Takayama’s “Old Manila.” This Takayama Pilgrimage includes a visit to the Takayama Shrine at UST and to the San Domingo Priory in Quezon City to see “La Japona,” the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary that was escorted back to Manila by Lord Takayama on board his exile boat.
►On Nov. 17, 1992, De Pedro secured from the National Historical Commission the declaration of the Takayama Memorial (established in 1977) as a National Monument.
►On Dec. 21, 2018, recognizing Takayama as a “Son of Manila,” Manila City Hall declared December 21 every year as “Blessed Takayama Ukon Day.”
►To spread information about Takayama, De Pedro manages the Takayama website: www.takayamaukon.com.
On Facebook, the ‘Takayama Cause’ is on the FB Page: //justotakayamaukon.
►The late Osaka Cardinal Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi has cited Takayama as “the epitome of the Japanese spirit.”
The Japanese historian, Anesaki Masaharu, summed up the significance of Takayama: “Justo Ukon Takayama’s life illustrates a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic. His brilliant military achievements, his moral integrity and deliberateness in critical moments, his dauntless spirit combined with a meek soul, his earnest zeal and piety expressed in his generosity and charity — all these should be noted as a fruit of Christian missions.”
►In all of these developments, the University of Santo Tomas has been the “de facto” center of the Takayama movement. The final test of history is whether at the end of our endeavors, all this research will result in the ultimate canonization of Blessed Justo Takayama, Son of Manila.#
►Among the first to be presented with a resin-fiberglass statuette of Blessed Takayama was Pope Francis, who had issued the “Decree of Martyrdom” on Jan. 21, 2016, declaring the “Servant of God,” Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), as a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines” – thus laying the groundwork for Takayama’s beatification in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017.
Blessed Takayama died (i.e., “was born into Heaven”) in Intramuros, Manila – and was the FIRST Manila Catholic to be proposed for sainthood at the Vatican by the Manila Archdiocese on Oct. 5, 1630. Dom Justo was Japanese, not Filipino (as we understand the term today) – but certainly a “Philippine saint.”
►The same resin-fiberglass figurine presented to Pope Francis is sold in Tokyo for ¥20,000 (₱9,471.17). Our Manila-sourced exports — in hard case — to Takayama devotees in Japan remain at only ¥5,000.
►The FIRST to be presented with a Takayama figurine made in Paete, Laguna was Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, SS – during the concelebration of the Takayama pre-Feast Day Mass (with five other Japanese bishops) on Feb. 2, 2018 at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish Church (Paco Catholic Church).
In Manila, we started domestic distribution in December 2017 at ₱2,400 – and as volume grew across the months, were able to drop it to ₱1,600 ex-Manila.
Our problem was DELIVERY. The cost of delivering anything outside Manila was prohibitive.
►TWO DIFFERENT APPROACHES — Takayama Trustees have been ● DELIVERING the parcels to home addresses – by courier service.
►St. Paul’s Logistics Team — ● Fr. Leopoldo Vizcarra Botavarara III, SSP, Logistics Manager, ● Fr. Brian Paul Lising Tayag, SSP, Asst. Logistics Manager, and ● Ms. Mary Jean Quidato-Oliva, Logistics Chief — presented a no-fuss deal. With St. Paul’s signed on, the Customer ● PICKS UP the Takayama figurine from the St. Paul’s store of his choice — in 27 locations throughout the Philippines, from Angeles City to Davao City.
St. Paul’s carries a large range of religious supplies. Blessed Takayama will be in the company of many saints. (Because of logistical expenses and inventory considerations — prices at St. Paul’s retail outlets may vary.)
►We will now concentrate on producing the standard model — which will now be priced at ₱1,800, to align this with St Paul’s prices. Which means that whether you visit St. Paul’s or PM us, the price will be the same ₱1,800.
For our direct sales through Takayama Trustees during parish sorties in Manila, we will continue to honor the 20% discount given to cancer patients — and to members of mandated Catholic organizations.
St Pauls Network
◘ ST PAULS Superstore 7708 St. Paul Road, San Antonio Village, 1203 Makati City
Tels. (02) 896-6702 / 895-6861
Trunk line: 895-9701-04 loc. 700 to 705
◘ ST PAULS Ali Mall 2nd Flr., Phase 2, Ali Mall Complex, Cubao, 1109 Quezon City
Tel. (02) 441-2137 or (02) 912-7841
◘ ST PAULS Gateway Mall Space No. 311, Level 3, Gateway Mall, Araneta Center,
Cubao, 0810 Quezon City
Tel. (02) 911-3380 or (02) 376-6536
◘ ST PAULS SM Mall of Asia No. 294, 2nd Flr., Entertainment Mall Bldg., SM Mall of Asia, Bay Blvd., 1304 Pasay City
Tel. (02) 556-0251 or (02) 823-1373
◘ ST PAULS SM Megamall Unit 109, G/F, Bldg-A, SM Megamall, Julia Vargas Ave., 1554 Mandaluyong City
Tel. (02) 634-1295 or (02) 631- 0536
◘ ST PAULS SM Megamall Unit 109, G/F, Bldg-A, SM Megamall, Julia Vargas Ave., 1554 Mandaluyong City
Tel. (02) 634-1295 or (02) 631- 0536
◘ ST PAULS SM Megamall Unit 109, G/F, Bldg-A, SM Megamall, Julia Vargas Ave., 1554 Mandaluyong City
Tel. (02) 634-1295 or (02) 631- 0536
◘ ST PAULS SM Southmall Unit 1083-0084 Lower Ground Flr. Zapote Road, Alabang,
Las Piñas City
Tel. (02) 806-6867 or (02) 511-0941
◘ ST PAULS Ayala Malls South Park Unit G051-G052 Ground Flr. Ayala Malls South Park, Alabang,
Tel. (02) 792-9953
◘ ST PAULS SM Bicutan Unit A021, Lower G/F, SM City Bicutan, Doña Soledad Ave., cor. West Service Rd., Bicutan, 1631 Parañaque City
Tel. (02) 836-9758 or (02) 511-1762
◘ ST PAULS SM Manila Unit 005, Lower G/F, SM City Manila, Conception St., cor. Arroceros & San Marcelino Sts., 1004 Manila
Tel. (02) 522-8233
◘ ST PAULS SM City North Edsa 2nd Flr., SM West Mall, SM City North Edsa, 1106 Quezon City
Tel. (02) 929-4925 or (02) 441-4263
◘ ST PAULS SM San Lazaro Unit 069, Lower G/F SM City San Lazaro, F. Huertas cor. A.H. Lacson Sts., Sta. Cruz, 1003 Manila
Tel. (02) 353-4823 or (02) 353-1238
◘ ST PAULS SM Sta. Mesa G/F, SM City Sta. Mesa, Sta. Mesa, Aurora Blvd., 1016 Manila
Tel. (02) 716-1559 or (02) 353-0794
◘ ST PAULS Fairview Terraces Space 2090, 2nd Floor, Fairview Terraces, Ayala Malls,
Quezon City, Tel. (02) 426-5491
South Luzon Branches
◘ ST PAULS SM Bacoor Unit 12, Lower G/F, SM City Bacoor, Bacoor, 4102 Cavite
Tel. (046) 417-2346 or (046) 417-1529
◘ ST PAULS SM Dasmariñas Unit E 020-021, Lower G/F, SM City Govenor’s Drive, Brgy. Sampaloc 4114
Tel. (046) 416-1278
Central Luzon Branches
◘ ST PAULS SM Pampanga Unit 153, G/F, SM City Pampanga, San Fernando & Mexico, 2021 Pampanga
Tel. (045) 455-3380
◘ ST PAULS Marquee Mall Space 1054 Level 1 Marque Mall, Francisco G. Nepomuceno Ave., Pulong Maragul, Angeles City
Tel. no.(045) 304-1011
◘ ST PAULS Harbor Point Mall, Subic Near Manila Avenue Entrance, Ground Level Harbor Point, Subic Bay Freeport Zone 2009 Subic, Zambales
Tel. (047) 251-1051
Central Visayas Branches
◘ ST PAULS Ayala Center Cebu Stall #306 3rd Level, Archbishop Reyes Ave., Ayala Center Cebu, 6000 Cebu City
Tel. (032) 231-7486
◘ ST PAULS SM Cebu SM City Cebu, North Reclamation Area cor. San Jose dela Montana & MJ Cuenco Sts., 6000 Cebu City
Tel. (032) 232-0760
◘ ST PAULS Bohol Department Store Area, Island City Mall, Dao District, 6300 Tagbilaran City, Bohol
◘ ST PAULS SM Seaside Cebu No. 3095, 3rd Flr., SM Seaside City, Cebu City
Tel. (032) 232-1407
Western Visayas Branches
◘ ST PAULS SM Iloilo Unit 49, Upper G/F, SM City Iloilo, Benigno Ave., Mandurriao, 5000 Iloilo City
Tel. (033) 320-8251
◘ ST PAULS SM Iloilo Unit 49, Upper G/F, SM City Iloilo, Benigno Ave., Mandurriao, 5000 Iloilo City
Tel. (033) 320-8251
◘ ST PAULS Marymart Marymart Center III Iloilo, Valeria St., 5000 Iloilo City
Tel. (033) 335-0636
Northern Mindanao Branch
◘ ST PAULS Cagayan De Oro Ground Floor West Concourse, Lim Ket Kai Mall,
Limketkai Center, Lapasan, Cagayan De Oro City
Tel. (088) 856-1904
Southern Mindanao Branches
◘ ST PAULS SM Davao Unit 165, G/F, SM City Davao, Quimpo Blvd., Ecoland, Matina, 8021 Davao City
Tel. (082) 282-2881
◘ ST PAULS South Cotabato Department Store, KCC Mall, Lagao St., 9500 General Santos City, South Cotabato
With Prayer Cards
Each Takayama figurine is accompanied by six prayer cards (estampitas) — plus a xerographed (not yet printed) backgrounder on Blessed Takayama.
Before anything else, you have to have your parish priest — or your Bishop — bless the Takayama figurine. Pope Francis, Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Naeda have the same Takayama figurine.
►If you know why you’ve chosen Blessed Takayama as your intercessor with God, join us in praying the intercessory prayer for a healing miracle, granted by God through the intercession of Blessed Takayama – in the Name of Jesus. (A saint does NOT perform miracles. Only God does that. You can implore God yourself, as when we cry out in despair, but it is better to have an intercessor: Mother Mary or — a new Blessed imploring God for a miracle — to prove he is in God’s heaven.
When you pray, don’t address your prayer “To all the Saints in Heaven, and the Angels too – and the new Blessed Takayama who’s in need of a validating miracle!”
An intercessory prayer does not work that way! Fervently, ask God to show His Grace and Favor by making a miracle — through the intercession of Blessed Takayama. The saints are NOT jealous of each other. They all bask in the presence of God.#
►The story of the celebrated “Samurai for Christ” — Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) — is of enduring interest for all people of faith. Why has this Japanese Christian of heroic virtue resonated so well among so many devotees?
Here’s a summary
►One of the greatest heroes of the martyr Church of Japan is undoubtedly the Catholic lay apostle, Justus Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), or Justus Ucondono, as he was usually called by missionaries. Although he greatly desired to shed his blood for Christ, he was not granted this honor, yet he sacrificed everything on three separate occasions for his Divine Master, was exiled to a foreign land (the Philippines) for the sake of his Faith, and died in Manila as a result of the hardships endured on the voyage to his exile.
Ukon Takayama was one of the greatest men of his era. He was an able ruler (as Daimyo, or governor of Takatsuki and later, of Akashi), a great general, an ingenious strategist, a master of the tea ceremony, a harmonious personality, and above all, an exemplary and saintly Christian.
He preached the Gospel among Japanese Buddhists — (which the Takayama family professed until their conversion and baptism in 1564) –better than many of the Jesuit missionaries. His amiable and attractive personality and, more striking, his blameless life, attracted numerous souls to the fold of the Good Shepherd. Not only did he convert his vassals and subjects to the Catholic Faith, but a number of the greatest personalities of his era were also won over by his entreaties and example to the cause of Christ. Gamo Ujisato, Kuroda Yoshitaka, Hosokawa Gracia were the most outstanding of them, but there were many others whose number and identity is known to God alone.
Ukon’s unblemished chastity was so generally admired even his enemy, Hideyoshi (who ruled Japan 1583-1598) could not but admire it.
‘Samurai for Christ’
As a samurai-daimyo devoted to Christ, Ukon Takayama professed his Faith openly — fighting his battles under the Sign of the Cross.
When the hegemon Oda Nobunaga (r. 1574-1582) threatened to massacre all the Christians and destroy their churches unless Ukon handed over to him the strategic castle of Takatsuki (in Osaka prefecture), the heroic champion of Christ, without hesitation, renounced his domain and betook himself to Nobunaga, with shaved head — ready to die with the missionaries and Christians. Doing this, he fully realized the terrible danger to which he exposed the lives of his only son and his little sister, who were hostages held by his suzerain Araki Murashige. God took the will for the deed, saved Ukon’s life, spared his hostages and secured for him Nobunaga’s admiration and good graces.
When Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who succeeded Nobunaga) suddenly turned persecutor in 1587, Ukon Takayama was called upon either to deny his Faith, or lose his fief, and he gladly gave up everything rather than turn traitor to his Divine Master.
For several years, he was in fear of his life; even after Hideyoshi’s wrath had cooled, he never again became a ruling daimyo but lived in relative obscurity as a guest samurai-general of the Maeda rulers at Kanazawa.
In 1614, Tokugawa Ieyasu resolved to exterminate Christianity — “that evil religion” — and Ukon Takayama was again among the first victims. Since the tyrant could not hope to make him apostatize, he exiled him to a foreign land, calculating that he would not long survive the rigors and hardships of the voyage. The fact that Ukon died a few weeks after his arrival at Manila shows most clearly that Ieyasu’s calculation has been only too correct. Thus Ukon Takayama had the satisfaction of giving up his life for the Divine Master.
In the estimation of his contemporaries, Ukon Takayama was a saintly man. After he had been deposed as Lord of Akashi (in 1587), he was now freer to preach the Gospel — ready to be killed for his Faith. When he visited Kyushu, the Christians there venerated him as a martyr.
Exiled to Manila
In Manila, he was welcomed with religious enthusiasm, for everyone was well aware of the honor of giving hospitality to a renowned Confessor of the Faith. His premature death on February 3, 1615 caused general mourning and regret that Manila had been deprived of the presence of a man of God. His funeral in Intramuros, accorded by Church and State, was a great tribute to him, underscoring that an outstanding Servant of God had passed to a better life.
‘Son of Manila’
The Archdiocese of Manila (as the diocese where Takayama died (or was “born to Heaven”) first presented to the Pope a petition for the beatification of Ukon Takayama in 1630 — only 15 years after he died. This was the FIRST EVER petition for sainthood sent to the Vatican from the Philippine Church!
Many who have remembered this heroic champion of Christ across the centuries continue to pray fervently that Ukon Takayama would someday be raised to the honors of the Altar, and thus be set as a model for young people.#
►For the first time since the “Samurai for Christ,” Blesseed Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近, 1552-1615) was born in Takayama Village, in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture — the Municipal Government of Toyono-cho (a 100% Shinto-Buddhist town) invited Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda to celebrate Mass there. Cardinal Maeda – the lone Cardinal in Japan’s Catholic hierarchy – brought six priests to concelebrate with him – as well as parishioners (including nuns) from ● Ashiya, ● Kishiwada, ● Nigawa, ● Osaka-Umeda. ● Sakai, ● Sennan, and ● Shukugawac — who wanted to participate in the historic occasion.
The program was hosted by: ● “Takayama Ukon Canonization Promotion Committee” (高山右近列聖推進委員会) and ● “Takayama ·Ukon ·& ·His ·Wife ·Honoring ·Association” (高山右近夫妻顕彰会) of Toyono-cho (Osaka Prefecture, Japan).
It was both a civic celebration — and a Catholic special event
On behalf of the municipal government, Welcome Remarks were delivered by Hon. Isao Ikeda, Toyono Town Mayor.
Cardinal Maeda Composed Four ‘Haiku’ for the Occasion
►The “haiku” is a traditional Japanese short poem (with 5-7-5 syllables) — practised by both Lord Justo Ukon Takayama and Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda. A multi-faceted artist, Takayama Ukon is said to have mastered the three forms of Japanese poetry: ◘ the song (“waka”), ◘ the linked verse (“renga”), and ◘ the epigram (“haiku”). ~ Heinrich Dumoulin, 2005
► Cardinal Maeda’s message after the awarding of plaque of appreciation:
In Toyono Town Oh Ukon Takayama Feast of the martyrs
Ukon fuufu ya
Fuyu no niji
Ukon and his wife Both hailed from Takayama Rainbow of winter
► During Cardinal Maeda’s homily:
Shukun wa Iesu
Heiwa ka na
With Ukon’s passing Jesus was his Master This is peace indeed
Tsurugi ni kae
Juujika wo te ni
Instead of a sword Held a crucifix at hand Passing of Ukon #
First Eucharistic Mass in Toyono-cho was celebrated on Feb. 16
►The visit of Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda on Feb. 16, 2019 to “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center in Takayama Village, Toyono-cho was NOT a “return to Christianity” – Christianity never took root there, not even in Ukon’s time (1552-1615). It has remained Shinto-Buddhist till today although the town’s most celebrated son is Ukon Takayama, a revered Christian Samurai..
In the first feedback from a Buddhist official of Toyono-cho, Megumi IMAIZUMI, who sent in some photos, shares: “The ceremony went well, the Mass was solemn and moving…”
Toyono-cho — and the Ukon Takayama Couple
►In 2016, townmates built granite statues to honor Lord Ukon Takayama and Lady Justa Kuroda Takayama in Toyono-cho (Osaka), birthplace of Ukon Takayama (1552-1615). This is the first representation seen of Mrs. Takayama.
Though Ukon spent his boyhood years — as “Takayama Hikogorō” (彦五郎) in Takayama Village — the Takayama family had moved to Sawa Castle when his father Takayama Tomoteru (1531–1596) became the castle-lord of Sawa Castle in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture. In Sawa Castle, Hikogorō – now 12 — joined his father and other members of their family in converting to Christianity.
The Sawa Castle castle was situated at the summit of the mountain southwest of Mt. Inasa as the headquarters for the Sawa Family, which supplied one of the three leading generals of the Uda district between 1346-1370. But, as the stone marker shows, its importance as a medieval-age castle comes from its having been the boyhood residence of the Christian daimyo (feudal clan lord), Takayama Ukon, as written in “History of Japan” by the Portuguese missionary, Luis Frois, SJ (ca. 1532-97). All that remains of Sawa Castle is a historical marker — with Ukon’s name engraved on it.
Maria Leona Nepomuceno, currently the attaché and director for West Japan of the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) in Osaka, who brought the first two Toyono-cho pilgrims to Manila in 2017 and 2018, was invited to attend the Feb. 16 ceremonies. She was warned that it would be very cold and was told to wear snow boots. February is the coldest month in Japan.
Four Seasons in Toyono-cho, Osaka
Memento Photo of ‘First Mass in Toyono-cho’ with Cardinal Maeda
With the inspiring memory of Blessed Takayama guiding his townmates who are studying his long journey into exile, the quest for The Word is just now starting.
►The first order for an altar-statue of Blessed Takayama from outside the Philippines came from – surprise! — “Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church” (est. 1865) in Wilmington, California.
As in ALL past orders, there’s a Pinoy element involved. Pinoy parishioners pooled resources to make the amount – which they presented to their pastor.
►Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O. Praem., pastor of St. Peter and St. Paul Church, in Wilmington, California wrote on January 18: “We hope you will provide an official image of Blessed Takayama for our parish. We have an active community of parishioners who are devoted to Blessed Takayama and want to promote his canonization.”
►For this particular acquisition by the Wilmington Parish Church, there was a Badoc connection.
Several residents of Long Beach and Wilmington, CA – who originated from Badoc, Ilocos Norte – were flying home to attend the elevation on Feb. 5 of the Badoc Parish Church to a Minor Basilica – and the dedication of a side altar to ● Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615), who was martyred in Manila, with another for ● San Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), Pro-Martyr of the Philippine Church.
►As our Manila-based movement for the Canonization of Blessed Takayama distributes sponsored statues to 💒 cathedrals, 💒 churches, 💒 convents and 💒 shrines, it is costing a little something to produce, crate and ship out — but not much.
To add your “mite” to the “TAKAYAMA ALTAR-STATUE FUND,” please contribute the cost of a ramen lunch / or a burger to: ◘ MetroBank (Philippines) — for credit to “Blessed Justo Takayama Research Service” – Acct. No. #347-3-34757405-9. Please email a CP photo of your remittance to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Acknowledgement will be made by PM or email. An official receipt will be issued — if a street or P.O. address is indicated.
Whether your parish church is in the Philippines, Japan or the United States (where Takayama statues have been installed) – or any diocese where there is a devotion to Blessed Takayama – we will find ways to ship a replica of the Takayama Statue that was installed at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica on Dec. 8, 2018 — Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and 60th Jubilee of the reconstruction and dedication of the postwar Manila Cathedral (1958).
Blessed Takayama is just ONE miracle away from Canonization. With your fervent prayers and your support – and if it be the will of God — we will have a new, singular intercessor for God’s grace in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ — in this Christian samurai of heroic virtue who died a martyr in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615.#
What did Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) really look like? It depends on the artist!
►Here are iconic samples:
● 36” woodcarving by celebrated Paete artist Paloy Cagayat at the Manila Cathedral (2018).
● Painting by Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904).
● Painting by Domoto Insho at main altar of the Osaka Cathedral (1964).
● 12-ft bronze statue by Johannes Masaaki Nishimori at the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park in Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila (1977).
● Book cover for “Kirishitan Daimyo: Takayama Ukon” by Shinzuke Tani (published by the Daughters of St. Paul, 1979).#
►Our favorite Takayama illustration – because it combines a “Kirishitan samurai” and a large Cross that was his “Cause” – is a sketch in the book “Kirishitan Daimyo: Takayama Ukon” by Shinzuke Tani (Tokyo: The Daughters of St. Paul, 1979).
► ● The official portrait of Ukon Takayama used at the 2017 Beatification Rites at Osaka-jo Hall.
► ● Sustaita
►Manga (Japanese comics) fans may prefer this new painting by Shinrin Sam Bros (2019).#
►When a parish / chapel / shrine needs an altar-statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, this 36” statue (shown being blessed by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle) is what we supply.
For those wanting to have the 36” altar-statue — (the only model currently in production) – please indicate the name of the requesting parish or shrine — and email this to [email@example.com]
►The town of Toyono-cho spent months preparing for this historic celebration that honors their most illustrious townmate who has earned a worldwide reputation as a Christian of heroic virtue — worthy for other people to emulate.
►Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda — who was entrusted by Pope Francis to the patronage and protection of Blessed Justo Takayama when he served as Papal Legate to Manila during the 60th Jubilee Celebration of the Postwar Reconstruction of the Manila Cathedral (Dec. 8, 2018) – is celebrating the historic Mass.
Could the Shinto-Buddhist townmates of Ukon really appreciate the Catholic ceremony?
Fortunately for them — for two years running — Toyono-cho representatives (all Shinto / Buddhists) have visited Manila to touch base with Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada, and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle – as they trace the footsteps of their illustrious son, Ukon Takayama – ● once in July 2017 to attend the Philippine Conference of New Evangelization (PCNE-4) and ● another Takayama Pilgrimage led by then-Archbishop Maeda in April 2018.
Whenever they attended Masses – at the Manila Cathedral and at the Santísimo Rosario Parish (UST Chapel) – they prayed with profound reverence. They watched the wafting of incense — that’s a universal symbol of worship in every religion.
When Catholics pray during Mass: “Lord, from the rising of the sun to its setting, your name is worthy of all praise. Let our prayer come like incense before you. May the lifting up of our hands be as an evening sacrifice acceptable to you, Lord our God” – that prayer expresses a universal sentiment across all religions.
Preserving Ukon’s Memory
►Toyono-cho has erected two giant granite statues of Justo Ukon Takayama and his wife, Dona Justa Kuroda Takayama.
►They keep Ukon’s memory alive by establishing a town-hall — “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center) in Takayama Village, Toyono-cho.
Two active promoters of Ukon’s memory are: ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” and ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”
The town-hall — “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama Community Center) in Takayama Village — treasures ● a statue of Lord Takayama sourced from the “Prayer Warriors of Blessed Takayama” in Manila, and ● a copy of the Vatican Parchment sent by Pope Sixtus V to “Justo Ucondono” in 1590.
►Yearly, they reenact Ukon’s wedding — giving everyone a chance to strut off their finest medieval wardrobe.
Grave of Maria Takayama is Part of Toyono-cho Heritage
►The grave of Ukon’s mother — Maria Takayama — wife of Tomoteru Takayama (高山友照), later known as Darius Zusho Takayama (1531–1596), is located in Toyono-cho, where it is a tourist attraction to this day.
Maria Takayama was the mother of three Takayama sons, the eldest being Justus (and thus heir), and three daughters. When Ukon was stripped of his feudal domain in Akashi (1587), Maria joined Ukon during his 27-year domestic exile in Kanazawa — but when she died in 1596, the Takayama family chose to bury her in the ancestral village of Takayama in Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture. (That’s an acknowledgement by the Takayama family themselves that Toyono-cho, Osaka Prefecture was their hometown.)
Cardinal Maeda Visits Toyono-cho Feb. 16, 2019
►An unprecedented Eucharistic Mass commemorating Ukon’s birthplace and the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama on Feb. 7, 2017 will be officiated by Osaka Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda. There is no mention in Jesuit archives that a Mass was ever celebrated in Toyono-cho although it is mentioned that the Japanese Jesuit Brother Lorenzo — a wandering minstrel who himself was converted by Saint Francis Xavier — had spent some 40 days preaching in the Takayama village and the adjoining Yono village. Ukon’s father was a fervent Buddhist who was won over to Christianity by the eloquent preaching of Brother Lorenzo.
But Brother Lorenzo could only preach; he was not an ordained minister — so Cardinal Maeda may be the first priest to celebrate the Mass in Ukon’a birthplace.
Date: February 16, 2019, Saturday
◘ Venue: Ukon-no-Sato (Takayama community center in Takayama Village), Toyono Town, Osaka Prefecture.
◘ 1:20 PM — Opening Ceremony and Presentation of Appreciation & Opening Remarks by Toyono Town Mayor Hon. Isao Ikeda
◘ 2:20 PM — Mass Commemorating the Birthplace and the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama to be officiated by Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda
◘ 3:20 PM — Handbell performance by students of the Assumption School.
The program is hosted by ● “Honor-Ukon-Takayama-Couples-Gathering” — in collaboration with ● “Ukon Takayama Canonization Promotion Committee.”
Cardinal Maeda himself is descended from a family of “Hidden Christians” (Kakure Kirishitans) who survived underground as they continued to practice Christianity in secret.
They worshipped in secret rooms in private homes. As time went on, the figures of the saints and the Virgin Mary were transformed into figurines that looked like the traditional statues of the Buddha and “bodhisattvas”; depictions of Mary modeled on the Buddhist deity Kannon, goddess of mercy, became common, and were known as “Maria Kannon.” The prayers were adapted to sound like Buddhist chant, yet retained many untranslated words from Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish. The Bible and other parts of the liturgy were passed down orally, because printed works could be confiscated by authorities.
Because of the official expulsion of the Catholic clergy in the 17th century, the Kakure Christian community relied on lay leaders to lead the services. In some cases, the communities drifted away from Christian teachings. They lost the meaning of the prayers and their religion became a version of the cult of ancestors, in which the ancestors happened to be their Christian martyrs.
Recognizing that the places of “hidden” Christianity in Japan are the heritage of humanity, the UNESCO has included 12 sites in Nagasaki and in the Amakusa region on its World Listing. The places are symbols of the persecution perpetrated against Christians during the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868).
A ‘Miracle of the East’
►Pope Pius IX (b. 1792; r. 1846-1878) has considered the discovery of “Hidden Christians” a “miracle of the East”: after the inauguration of the Oura Churdh in Nagasaki, a group of people from the village of Urakami asked Fr. Bernard Petitjean (1829 – 1884) — one of the two missionaries who built it — to be able to enter the church to “greet Mary.” They were “Kakure Kirishitans,” descendants of the first Japanese Christians forced into anonymity, and were followed by tens of thousands of underground Christians who came to the cathedral and resumed Christian practice.
[The remains of the castle of Hara was also included in the UNESCO list. It was one of the scenes of the Catholics revolt “Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion” (1637), as a result of which the persecution became harsher. Another site is the village Sakitsu, in the prefecture of Kumamoto (Amakusa), where Christians continued to practice their faith in secret.]
Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda told the “Japan Times” that the recognition will allow people to discover the history of Christianity in Japan, “summarized” in forgiveness and understanding: “The [UNESCO] registration brings with it something profound and meaningful, in which a true peace for peoples comes when there is respect for each other.”
Cardinal Maeda is working for the beatification of “hidden Christians” who had been exiled to Tsuwano in present-day Shimane prefecture, part of Hiroshima Diocese. In the final outbreak of anti-Christian persecution in Japan 150 years ago, some 3,400 Christians from Nagasaki were exiled to various places throughout the country.
Nagasaki Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami
►The Archbishop of Nagasaki, Msgr. Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, expresses the same satisfaction to “AsiaNews”: “For 250 years, Christianity has been persecuted in Japan. Now, it is recognized in its history, and many more Japanese are beginning to take an interest in Christianity.”
The rediscovery of the Japanese Christian history must also involve the faithful themselves, called to study “the history of their ancestors”: for this, on April 1, 2018, the diocese of Nagasaki inaugurated a museum on the history of Japanese Christianity, within the old residence of the bishop. “We need to remember history because it’s not the buildings that are important — concludes Archbishop Takami — but the story behind them. It is this history of faith that has universal value.”
►Toyono-cho is part of the Osaka Archdiocese – as well as the birthplace of Ukon Takayama, Japan’s most celebrated Christian samurai.
Cardinal Maeda’s visit is less an opportunity to evangelize – but more for Ukon’s townmates to reflect on why the Takayama family, then living at Sawa fortress in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture, a stronghold held by Ukon’s father, Takayama Tomoteru (1531–1596), for the Daimyo Matsunaga Hisahide (松永 久秀), 1508–1577, in Yamato Province (today in Haibara-cho, Nara Prefecture) — was moved to convert from Buddhism (as in Toyono-cho today) en masse in 1564.#