Japan As a Country of Crypto-Christianity

Arimasa Kubo
15 min readFeb 23, 2022

Arimasa Kubo

Opening of Japan to the world (1853)

Japan Has Been Christian-like

Many people think that Japan is not a Christian country. Certainly it is not Christian ostensibly. Japan is generally thought to be a country of Shintoism or Buddhism. However, Japan is in fact a country of crypto-Christianity, in which I mean that many people do not realize; however, it has ever had a strong Christian stream in history and culture since ancient times.

After Japan’s national isolation era during 1639–1854, many Westerners came to Japan, when they were surprised to see that there were many Japanese people having Christian-like virtues in spite that Japan was not a Christian country. Edward S. Morse (1838–1925), an American zoologist, wrote so after he visited Japan. So was Francisco Xavier, the first Catholic missionary to Japan who came in 1549. He was surprised to see many Japanese people having Christian-like virtues. He wrote a letter to the Vatican that perhaps Christianity was already preached in Japan.

Christianity was in fact taught in Japan in ancient times. The first Christians to Japan were the Hata tribe, who came to Japan in the 2nd -3rd centuries AD. According to the Japanese old records, Shinsen Shoji Roku (written in 815 AD) and Nihon Shoki (720 AD), King Koman came firstly to Japan as the advance person of the Hata tribe and met Emperor Chuai in the 8th year (199 AD) of his reign. And later, in the 14th year (283 AD) of Emperor Ohjin, King Yuzu of the Hata tribe from Yuzuki immigrated to Japan with a large group of people and became naturalized as Japanese citizens under the patronage of the emperor.

These years, 199 and 283, when the Hata tribe came are of the traditional understanding. But there are theories about the relation between the ancient Imperial years and the Gregorian calendar. Recent scholars think that the years may be actually 100–200 years later. Even if so, the Hata tribe came to Japan far earlier than the first Catholic missionary Francisco Xavier did in the 16th century.

It seems that King Koman came to Japan as the advance person and told about his Hata tribe to the Japanese emperor. The emperor was glad to hear about them and would have told, “Please come to Japan with all of your people.” So, 84 years later…

--

--