In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians: A Story of Suppression, Secrecy and Survivalby John Dougill
From the time the first Christian missionary arrived in Japan in 1549 to when a nationwide ban was issued in 1614, over 300,000 Japanese were converted to Christianity. A vicious campaign of persecution forced the faithful to go underground. For seven generations, Hidden Christians—or Kirishitan—preserved a faith that was strictly forbidden on pain of
From the time the first Christian missionary arrived in Japan in 1549 to when a nationwide ban was issued in 1614, over 300,000 Japanese were converted to Christianity. A vicious campaign of persecution forced the faithful to go underground. For seven generations, Hidden Christians—or Kirishitan—preserved a faith that was strictly forbidden on pain of death. Illiterate peasants handed down the Catholicism that had been taught to their ancestors despite having no Bible or contact with the outside world.
Just as remarkably, descendants of the Hidden Christians continue to this day to practice their own religion, refusing to rejoin the Catholic Church. Why? And what is it about Christianity that is so antagonistic to Japanese culture? In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians is an attempt to answer these questions. A journey in both space and time, In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians recounts a clash of civilizations—of East and West—that resonates to this day, and offers insights about the tenacity of belief and unchanging aspects of Japanese culture.
"A nonfiction work about devotion, the book is also a lively travelogue. And Dougill is a tireless journeyman and sleuth, going to wherever there is a story or lead. He tracks down descendants of hidden Christians on the island clusters of Amakusa, Goto and Ikitsuki, meets with curators, historians in Shimabara and Nagasaki, engages fisher folk in conversations about history." —Stephen Mansfield, columnist, Japan Times
"John Dougill's In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians is one of the most compelling and important books on Japan in recent years. The story of Japan's Hidden Christians is one of the least known and most interesting aspects of Japanese history, and Dougill brings the story to life brilliantly." —Chris Rowthorn, author of Lonely Planet Japan and Lonely Planet Kyoto
"Eloquently written, with surprises around every corner, Hidden Christians is an engaging read. Dougill's personal touch to the narrative makes the book lively and highly readable." —Amy Chavez, columnist, Japan Times
"In Search of Japan's Hidden Christians: A Story of Suppression, Secrecy and Survival is the best non-fiction work I've read in the past three years." —Bookish.asia
"This book is a moving and personal meditation on the history and present situation of Japan's Kakure Kirishitan. The combination of individual testimonies and reflections based on sound research paints a rounded and up-to-date picture of these remarkable communities." —Stephen Turnbull, author of Samurai Swordsman
"The narrative is engaging, as Dougill's perspective is both instructive and playful. This is one of the best books out there about this subject of east meeting west." —San Francisco Book Review
"Readers are immersed in Dougill's travel adventures as he visits historical sites of the Kirishitan. And even those who stumble over the Japanese terminology will understand the importance of a book detailing a dwindling subculture now fading into history." —Publishers Weekly
- Tuttle Publishing
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Hardcover with Jacket
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
John Dougill studied modern languages at Leeds in the UK and did a postgraduate course in Slavonic Studies at Oxford University. In 1986 he went to Japan as a visiting lecturer at Kanazawa University. He completed a Ph.D. in English Literature, and moved to Ryukoku University in Kyoto, where he now works as professor of British Studies.
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