“We Are Now Learning the [Japanese] Language like Little Children” – St. Francis Xavier

“We are now learning the [Japanese] language like little children” – Childlikeness and learning within the context of the early modern Jesuit mission to Japan

 Dr. Pia Maria Jolliffe
The Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford

Learning, education and inculturation were very important to the early modern Jesuit mission to Japan. From the beginning, the Jesuits admired the high level of education in Japan. The missionaries knew that they had to learn from Japan if they wanted the Japanese people to develop a real desire to learn from them.

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier
A Japanese depiction of Saint Francis Xavier, dated to the 17th century, held in the Kobe City Museum.  St. Francis was the greatest Roman Catholic missionary of modern times who was instrumental in the establishment of Christianity in India, the Malay Archipelago, and Japan.

After Francis Xavier [1506-1552] arrived with his companions on 15 August 1549 in Kagoshima, he lived for a while with a Japanese family and studied Japanese customs. Five letters sent by Xavier from Kagoshima to Rome have survived and have been confirmed as authentic. They are all dated 5 November 1549. Learning emerges as an important theme in all these letters. Xavier admired the Japanese people for their highly developed culture. So, he urged his Jesuit companions to adapt a humble approach to their missionary work:

“May it please God our Lord to grant us a knowledge of the language so that we can speak to them of the things of God, for we shall then, with his grace, favour, and assistance, produce much fruit. We are now like so many statues among them, since they speak and talk much about us, while we, not understanding their language, are mute. We are now learning the language like little children, and may it please God that we may imitate them in their simplicity and purity of mind. We are forced to employ the means and to dispose ourselves to be like them, both in learning the language and in imitating the simplicity of small and innocent children.” (Xavier 1992: 306)

This comparison between the learning Jesuit and little children is very interesting. Probably, Xavier thought of the evangelical simplicity and childlikeness: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18: 3-4)

The first elementary school for young children was opened in 1561 in Ōita. Another elementary school was opened in 1562 in Yokoseura. (Schilling 1931: 30)

Fr. Luis Frois, SJ

Fr. Luis Frois, SJ
Statue of Fr. Luís Fróis, SJ,  in Yokoseura Park ©Nishimura Yuka

In the same year, 1562, Fr. Luís Fróis [1532-1597] arrived in Japan. It is quite likely that he had read Xavier’s letters during his novitiate in Goa.

After 23 years as a missionary in Japan, the mature Froís drafted in 1585 his Tratado, which is today considered the earliest systematic comparison of Japanese and European cultures. There is a whole chapter “Concerning children and their customs” which includes several observations concerning learning.

For example, distich 6 says:

“Among us, a four-year old child still does not know how to eat with his own hands; in Japan a three-year old already eats by himself using chopsticks.” (Fróis 2015: 84)

Or distich 8 says:

“Among us, one learns to read and write from secular teachers; in Japan, they all learn at the temple-schools of the Buddhist monks.” (Fróis 2015: 85)

Distich 9: “Our children learn first to read and then to write; in Japan they commence with writing and then learn to read.” (Fróis 2015: 86)

Distich 13: “Our children have little command and excellence in their manners; children in Japan are exceedingly thorough in their manners, so much that they are amazing.” (Fróis 2015: 87)

It is noteworthy how positively Fróis evaluates Japanese children. Compared to their European counterparts – the Portuguese children Fróis may have been familiar with – Japanese children seemed to the missionary well mannered, dexterous and relaxed when performing in the presence of others. This positive interpretation of Japanese customs and behaviour can be found throughout the Tratado.

Fr. Alessandro Valignano, Jesuit Superior General

Fr. Alessandro Valiugnano, SJ
Fr. Alessandro Valignano helped introduce Christianity to the Far East, especially to Japan

Alessandro Valignano [1539-1606], the famous Visitador, also had a high opinion of the quality of learning in Japan. Like Fróis he noted how quickly Japanese children were learning:

“People are very able and of good understanding; and the children are very able to learn all our sciences and disciplines (…) and they learn to read and write in our language much easier and in less time than our children in Europe.” (Valignano 1899: 92)

St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Far East

Moreover, like Xavier, Valignano suggested that Jesuits need to develop a childlike approach towards their new life in Japan:

“However prudent and wise they may be, people find themselves in Japan like children and ignorant, in the kind of way that it is necessary for them to learn how to talk, how to sit down, how to walk, how to eat and to do a thousand other new things. These things seem at the beginning very strange and foolish, however, later they seem good.” (Valignano 1899: 110)

In this way, Valignano challenged generational power relations by acknowledging that mature Jesuits will find themselves “like children and ignorant” when learning to adapt themselves to Japanese culture.#

References

Fróis, Luís. 2015. The First European Description of Japan, 1585. A Critical English-language Edition of Striking Contrasts in the Customs of Europe and Japan by Luís Fróis, S.J. London & New York: Routledge.

Schilling, Konrad. 1931. Das Schulwesen der Jesuiten in Japan (1551-1614). Münster: Druck der Regensbergschen Buchdruckerei.

Valignano, Alessandro. 1899. Monumenta Xaveriana. Ex autographis vel ex antiquioribus exemplis collecta. Matriti: Typis Augustini Avrial.

Xavier, Francis. 1992. The letters and instructions of Francis Xavier. Translated and introduced by M. Joseph Costelloe. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources.#

A ‘New’ Takayama Bronze, 1966 – To Add to Our Gallery

►The most celebrated bronze of Dom Justo Ukon Takayama (高山右近), 1552-1615; beatified 2017), is the “Samurai of Christ” that stands as the centerpiece of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. This was the work of the Japanese Catholic convert, Johannes Masaaki Nishimori, who trained in Italy and made his first sculpture there. Returning to Japan, he established the “Atelier Pisano.”

The Takayama statue at Plaza Dilao, inaugurated on Nov. 17, 1977,  was actually the FOURTH bronze made by Nishimori.

The original was erected ● at the Shiroato Historical Park in Takatsuki City (Osaka Prefecture) in 1972.

Other Takayama “twins” are ● at Kojyo Park in Takaoka (Toyama Prefecture) – whose castle had been repaired by Lord 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.

►Then there’s the famous mounted Samurai-General.

►But a “new” one – not yet seen at Google/Images — is that sculpted by Yasutake Funakoshi (舟越 保武, 1912–2002), the Japanese artist who created the sculptures of the “Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan “ from 1958 to 1962, and later the “Hara-no-Jo “(原の城, Christian samurai).

For the landmark sculpture, he was awarded the “Takamura Kōtarō Prize “ (高村光太郎賞受賞). The Pope bestowed on the 1950 Catholic convert the Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1964.

For the latter sculpture he received the Nakahara-Teijirō-Prize (中原悌二郎賞) in 1972.

Bronze by Yasutake Funakoshi

►In 1966 — four years after his work at the the “26 Martyrs’ Shrine” at Nagasaki was completed — Funakoshi made a bronze of Dom Justo Ucondono measuring 80 cm (31.5 inches). Funakoshi shows a pensive Takayama wearing, not a katana, but a crucifix. He seems to be past all worldly worries, with an eye cast — not on the current persecutions that befell him or the forthcoming exile to Manila that was his fate — but on the great beyond.#

Takayama Ukon
Bronze statue of Dom Justo Ucondono by Yasutake Funakoshi
Ukon Takayama by Y. Funakoshi
Ukon Takayama by Yasutake Funakoshi

’26 Martyrs’ Shrine’ at Nagasaki

►The bronze sculptures at the “26 Martyrs’ Shrine” in Nagasaki were created by Yasutake Funakoshi from 1958 to 1962.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Jesuit Music Ministry Composes New Tagalog Hymn for Blessed Takayama

►🎼🎵🎶 •♫**• With lyrics by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ, and music by Dom Joseph Bulan, SJ, it is the FIRST Takayama Tagalog hymn to reach us this year. •♫**• 🎶🎵🎶

"Tinig Barangka" Choir, Manila
“Tinig Barangka,” which recorded “Mabunying Samurai” under JMM Director Lester Mendiola

“Mabunying Samurai” (Awit kay Justo Ukon Takayama)
By Tim Ofrasio, SJ – Dom Bulan, SJ

►1. Sumikat na araw sa bukang liwayway
Nagsabog ng liwanag sa kalupaan
Justo Ukon Takayama, maginoong banal
Daimyo’t samurai na kahanga-hanga.
►2. Di nag-atubiling lahat ay talikdan
Mawala pati yaman, dangal ng ngalan,
Kanya mang iwanan bayang niliyag
Pagka-Kristiano niya’y tunay na ipahayag.
KORO: Nawa’y buong tapang din naming harapin
Lahat ng pagsubok sa buhay namin
Tulad ng halimbawang lingkod ng Ama
O dakilang Justo Ukon Takayama.
►3. Mistulang martir na nagbuwis ng buhay
Alang-alang kay Kristong tagapag-akay
Huwarang Samurai na matapang at tapat
Kay Kristong Hari gantimpala’y ganap.
KORO: Naway buong tapang din namin harapin
Lahat ng pagsubok sa buhay namin
Tulad ng halimbawang lingkod ng Ama.
O dakilang Justo Ukon Takayama. #

►The Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM) – an arm of Jesuit Communications Philippines (JesCom) directed by Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso, SJ — is a producer and publisher of music for use in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church. It was established in response to Vatican II’s “Sacrosanctum Concilium” which urged the entire congregation to actively participate in the liturgy that includes singing. JMM songs are now sung in churches not only in the Philippines but throughout the world.

By 1965, JMM began composing songs in the Filipino idiom. Many well-remembered compositions followed throughout the 70’s, resulting in what could be called “classics” of Filipino Liturgical Music: “Ama Namin (Our Father),” “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri (Magnificat)” and “Pananagutan.” 1981 saw the release of “Himig Heswita,” an album celebrating 400 years since the arrival of the Jesuits in the Philippines.
JMM has built on this splendid track record since then.#

Lyrics by Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ

►The lyricist, Fr. Tim Ofrasio. SJ, writes: “I was requested by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, the renowned Jesuit composer — for lyrics for a proposed song for Blessed Takayama.

“I had no inspiration whatsoever, but still tried to research his life history. I prayed to him to help me write verses on his life and sacrifice. The inspiration I received was about the Jesus Christ as the true rising Sun, and the fidelity of this noble samurai to his Lord, the true rising Sun. I was also touched by Takayama’s willingness to turn his back from his lofty position and earthly honors in order to stand for his faith in Jesus Christ, to the point of leaving his homeland in order to remain faithful to his Lord.

“In this sense, he faced martyrdom, albeit unbloody, but nonetheless painful. Thus the lyrics of the hymn.”

Music by Dom Bulan, SJ

►The composer, Dom Joseph Bulan, SJ [Dom Bulan], writes: “It was really a fruit of collaboration since we received the request to come up with the hymn from Lester Mendiola of Jesuit Music Ministry. (It was actually one of your [Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro’s] emails where you attached some prayers and information about his life).

“I asked Fr. Tim if he could come up with the lyrics for the hymn, and he gladly came up with it.

“I was the one who wrote the music for the piece, and in the process solicited some suggestions from Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ (of the Jesuit Music Ministry, who has composed over 150 songs that are sung all over the world) and Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ., Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, who has written 18 songs for the JMM, among them, “Pagsibol” and “Ito Ang Araw.”

‘Tinig Barangka’

►Among the Jesuit Music Ministry’s many choirs, it was “Tinig Barangka,” which recorded “Mabunying Samurai” under JMM Director Lester Mendiola. “Tinig Barangka” started singing during the 70’s under Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, as the “Barangka Choir” and later changed into “Tinig Barangka.” Composed by professionals and students whose mission is to spread God’s love through the songs, the choir started singing in concerts of the 70’s like “Purihi’t Pasalamatan,” “Hesus na Aking Kapatid,” “Talinghaga” — which promoted Filipino liturgical music. “Tinig Barangka” has worked with numerous conductors and composers, including ● Fr. Eduardo Hontiveros, SJ, ● Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, ●  Fr. Nemie Que, SJ, ● Fr. Fruto Ramirez, SJ, ● Fr. Tim Ofrasio, SJ, ● Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, and ● Fr. Arnel Aquino, SJ. Today “Tinig Barangka” continues to usher out the quality standards of liturgical music with the passion of serving God and His people.

Entrance of PLM University Chapel (Intramuros, Manila)
Japanese pilgrims visit the PLM University Chapel which stands in the PLM/Jesuit Compound where Lord Justo Ukon Takayama lived for 44 days — before passing away on Feb. 3, 1615. Ukon was entombed in this compound — until their transfer to the new Jesuit church — San Ignacio Church-II — on Arzobispo St. in Intramuros.

First Church Rendition

►On Saturday, June 29 – feast day of St. Peter & St. Paul — “Mabunying Samurai” will be sung for the first time at two related events — in Manila and in Wilmington, California: ◘ The installation of Blessed Takayama at the PLM University Chapel by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, and ◘ The installation of Blessed Takayama at the St. Peter & Sr. Paul Catholic Church in Wilmington, California at 5 PM (California time) – by Rev. Fr. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

As Manila Jesuits Remember Blessed Takayama

►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.#

https://www.phjesuits.org/portal/blessed-justo-takayama-and-the-jesuits-in-the-philippines/

Sch. Amado T. Tumbali, SJ
Asst. Archivist, Philippine Province

University of Santo Tomas (UST) – and the ‘Cause of Takayama’ It Nurtured

Lord Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) became Daimyo (feudal governor) of Takatsuki at 21.

►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.

Official portrait shows Servant of God Justo Takayama, offering sword-crucifix in the service of Christ.

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.

Samurai-General Ukon Takayama fought his battles under the banner of the Cross.

►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).

New market for Takayama statue in University of Santo Tomas
A Takayama statue stands at the entrance of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC), UST Graduate School.

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.

Ultimate Test

►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.”

“Takayama’s life was a happy union of the valor of a Japanese warrior and the fidelity of an ardent Catholic.” ~ Anesaki Masaharu, Japanese historian

►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.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Who Was Dom Justo Ukon Takayama? A Brief Write-Up

Official portrait of Blessed Takayama — chosen by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ)

►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.

Cover of a new DVD on Blessed Takayama. No English version is available yet.

‘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.#

Dr. Ernesto de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

 

Photo Album on ‘First Mass’ in Birthplace of Ukon Takayama – in Toyono-cho, Osaka

►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.

The Opening Remarks were followed by the presentation of a Plaque of Appreciation & gifts
Handbell performance by students of the Assumption School.

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

A celebrated ‘Haiku’ poet, Cardinal Maeda composed four ‘Haiku’ to mark  the Special Event.

► Cardinal Maeda’s message after the awarding of plaque of appreciation:

豊能町

高山右近

致命祭

Toyono-chou
Takayama Ukon
Chimeisai

In Toyono Town
Oh Ukon Takayama
Feast of the martyrs

高山の

右近夫婦や

冬の虹

Takayama no
Ukon fuufu ya
Fuyu no niji

Ukon and his wife
Both hailed from Takayama
Rainbow of winter

► During Cardinal Maeda’s homily:

右近忌の

主君はイエス

平和かな

Ukon-ki no
Shukun wa Iesu
Heiwa ka na

With Ukon’s passing
Jesus was his Master
This is peace indeed

剣に変え

十字架を手に

右近忌や

Tsurugi ni kae
Juujika wo te ni
Ukon-ki ya

Instead of a sword
Held a crucifix at hand
Passing of Ukon #

First Eucharistic Mass in Toyono-cho was celebrated on Feb. 16

Cardinal Maeda enters the “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama community center)
The “Ukon-no-Sato” (Takayama community center) is a multi-purpose venue for events

►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…”

A large number of the congregation lined up to receive Holy Communion — from three priests. For a community hearing Mass for the first time, how could that be? It turns out that parishioners (including nuns) of Shukugawa Catholic Church and six other parishes attended the Toyono-cho “First Mass.”

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.

The granite statues serve as backdrop for many Special Events, particularly the yearly reenactment of the wedding of Ukon to Justa Kuroda

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.

Toyono-cho marker — with name of Ukon Takayama engraved

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

A look back at a snow-covered hut in vegetable field
Stillness overlooking rice fields
A path with morning dew
Covered with gentle sun light
Village in autumn … Buck wheat flower and cosmos
Candle night — on the night of Ukon’s festival in October

Memento Photo of ‘First Mass in Toyono-cho’ with Cardinal Maeda

This is the first of many groups who wanted to have a memento photograph 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.

By Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Promoting “Canonization of Blessed Takayama” — with Spread of Altar-Statues

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda venerating official image of Blessed Takayama at the Manila Cathedral

►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.

Another Takayama statue being blessed by Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

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.

Takayama altar-statue installed at the Manila Cathedral-Basilica

►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.”

St. Peter and St. Paul Church, in Wilmington, California

►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.

Active parishioners energize their parishes!#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Add Your Mite to the ‘Takayama Altar-Statue Fund’

Osaka Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda viewing the first “new” altar-statue of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama on Dec. 8, 2018, when he represented Pope Francis as Papal Legate to the 60th Jubilee Celebration of the Manila Cathedral

►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 <ernestodepedro@gmail.com>. Acknowledgement will be made by PM or email. An official receipt will be issued — if a street or P.O. address is indicated.

Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle — blessing a Blessed Takayama image to mark the celebration of the 404th anniversary of the arrival of Lord Takayama and 350 Christian exiles from Japan — on Dec. 21, 2018.

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.#

Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Takayama Trustee

Takayama Iconography 101: What Did Ukon Look Like?

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 [ernestodepedro@gmail.com]