Neither Apostates nor Martyrs
"Neither Apostates nor Martyrs. Japanese Catholics Facing the Repression (1612-Mid-Seventeenth Century)", p. 361-392 de Curvelo, Alexandra y Cattaneo, Angelo (eds.): Interactions Between Rivals: The Christian Mission and Buddhist Sects in Japan (c.1549-c.1647), PeterLang, Hamburgo, volumen 17 de Passagem. ESTUDOS EM CIÊNCIAS CULTURAIS - STUDIES IN CULTURAL SCIENCES - KULTURWISSENSCHAFTLICHE STUDIEN, Berlín 2021, 518 páginas. Disponible en internet: https://www.peterlang.com/document/1190560 [consultado el 13 de junio de 2022].
p. 361 Foreword: What about the 99 Percent Left?
Los relatos publicados por misioneros a partir de 1614, año que marca el comienzo de la prohibición del cristianismo, están "fairly censored".
Omata Rappo, Des Indes lointaines aux scènes des collèges: les reflets des martyrs de la mission japonaise en Europe (xvie – xviiie siècle). Münster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2020.
los mártires fueron una tiny minority de los estimados 300.000 japoneses que pertenecían a la Iglesia en vísperas de la prohibición (algunas evidencias estadísticas en Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan, 1549– 1650.Manchester: Carcanet, 1993, p.448).
Un gran número de creyentes siguió practicando la (362) religión de los misioneros después de haber apostatado formalmente. Al principio estos falsos apóstatas pudieron ser más que los verdaderos apóstatas y desde luego que los mártires. ¿Cómo percibían la obligación formal de renunciar al cristianismo?
Estudios pioneros que rectificaron la idea de que la comunidad católica difería radicalmente del sustrato religioso: Okada Akio 岡田章雄 (nota 5 Okada Akio chosakushū 岡 田章雄著作集. Kyōto: Shibunkaku Shuppan 思文閣出版, 1983– 1984.)
Higashibaba Ikuo 東馬場郁夫 nota 6 (Christianity in Early Modern Japan: Kirishitan Belief and Practice. Leiden, Boston & Köln: Brill, 2001.) se centra en la segunda mitad del siglo XVI (solo un capítulo entra en la época de represión) y considera que la apostasía "falsa" era la "más razonable y práctica conclusión si la gente quería continuar con su fe", pero pocas de sus fuentes son relatos directos de los commoners (activistas, laicos)
Kawamura Shinzō 川村信三 nota 7 (Kirishitanshintososhikinotanjōtohenyō キリシタン信徒組織の誕生と変容. Tōkyō: Kyōbunkan 教文館, 2003; Kawamura, Sengoku shūkyō shakai shisōshi: Kirishitan jirei kara no kōsatsu 戦国宗教社会思想史－キリシタン事例からの考察. Tōkyō: Chisen Shokan 知泉書館, 2011.) estudia las razones del éxito de la Iglesia al final del periodo Sengoku: 1) la capacidad de los misioneros para introducir rápidamente en el campo y las ciudades cofradías adaptadas a (363) las costumbres japonesas y sus estructuras sociales y 2) el atractivo del monoteísmo entre los japoneses en una época de guerras, inestabilidad política y calamidades naturales.
Mi estudio se centra en documentos de la península de Shimabara 島原 de 1612 a 1638. Arima Yoshisada 有馬義貞 (1521– 1576) fue uno de los primeros daimios conversos. Arima Harunobu 有馬晴信 (1567– 1612), known in the Portuguese sources as Dom Protásio la extendió en el sur de la península, hasta 20.000 los primeros en sufrir dura persecución de 1612 a 1615 cuando su nuevo jefe renegó: Arima Naozumi 有馬直純 (1586– 1641). Junto con campesinos de la isla sureña de Amakusa 天草 fueron los iniciadores de la revuelta a gran escala de inspiración cristiana en 1637-38.
364 De 1615 a 1625 la región fue relativamente segura para el clero y ocultó a muchos jesuitas, franciscanos y dominicos. Los oficiales del Bakufu 幕府 produjeron informes.
The Antichristian Measures: Between Relentlessness and Permissiveness
Estudios centrados en los mártires: 5 volúmenes de Kataoka Yakichi 片岡弥吉 on the regional history of Catholicism in Japan: Kirishitan fudoki 切支丹風土記, Tōkyō: Hōbunkan 宝文館, 1960.
Estudios sobre las causas de la persecución, último cap. de Boxer y también Elison, Deus Destroyed. The Image of Christianity in Early Modern Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973.
La prohibición no se aplicó uniformemente: Ōhashi, Kirishitan minshūshi no kenkyū キリシタン民衆史の研究. Tōkyō: Tōkyōdō Shuppan 東京堂出版, 2001, and Murai, Kirishitan kinsei no chiiki teki tenkai キリシタン禁制の地域的展開. Tōkyō: Iwata Shoin 岩田書院, 2007.
Ōhashi Yukihiro 大橋泰幸 (p. 100-131) establece 3 etapas en 44 dominios entre Tōhoku 東北 y el sur de Kyūshū 九州:
1620-30 De forma irregular se inspeccionó la religión de los súbditos, a cargo de oficiales.
Tras la rebelión de Shimabara-Amakusa, en 1640-50 la mayoría de territorios examinó usando el clero budista.
En los 1660, tras descubrirse cristianos ocultos en Omura 大村 (1657), Bungo 豊後 (1660) y Owari 尾張 (1661) se aplicó en todo Japón el sistema de inspección religiosa. Ōhashi, “Seitō itan kirishitan: Kinsei Nihon no chitsujo to kirishitan kinsei 正統・異端・切支丹－近世日本の秩序とキリシタン禁制”. Waseda Daigaku Kyōiku Gakubu gakujutsu kenkyū chiri- gaku rekishigaku shakai kagaku- hen 早稲田大学教育学部 学術研究 地理学･歴史学･社会科学編, no. 54, 2005, pp.11– 26; for Ōmura and Murai, Kirishitan kinsei no chiiki teki tenkai, pp.52– 58, for Bungo and Owari.
En Shimabara, la aplicación de la prohibición fue muy irregular hasta Arima Naozumi, a quien se permitió suceder a su padre a pesar de la conducta de este (nota 15, condenado a muerte por corrupción por el Bakufu, su señor era cristiano: Gonoi (Ed.), Kirishitan daimyō: Fukyō, seisaku, shinkō no jissō キリシタン大名－布教・政策・信仰の実相. Kyōto: Miyaobi Shuppansha 宮帯出版社, 2017, pp.193– 211.), inició una lucha a gran escala contra el catolicismo, exigiendo abjurar, pero muchos se negaron, por lo que entre julio de 1612 y enero de 1615, 63 fueron muertos o dejados morir por las autoridades (en su mayoría eran samurais del sur de Shimabara, nota 16: Juan Ruiz- de- Medina (El Martirologio del Japón 1558– 1873. Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1999).), los devotos les apoyaron organizando procesiones u oraciones públicas, hubo tanta agitación en los pueblos que el Bakufu decidió trasladar a Naozumi de Shimabara a Hyūga 日向 en la costa este de Kyushu.
Shimabara’s anti- Christian policy in the 1610s, see Ebisawa, Kirishitan no dan’atsu to teikō キリシタンの弾圧と抵抗. Tōkyō: Yuzankaku Shuppan 雄山閣出版, 1981, pp.179– 189.
(366) en 1616 Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 (1543– 1616) entregó ese dominio a uno de sus vasallos más fieles, Matsukura Shigemasa 松倉重正 (1574– 1630), con quien la situación de los cristianos mejoró: virtualmente ninguno murió ni fue perseguido antes de diciembre de 1625 (salvo noviembre 1622: un jesuita y 3 laicos, y entonces, según una carta de 3 de marzo de 1622 del jesuita Baltasar de Torres 1563-1626 estuvo ante un fait accompli.
(367) en marzo de 1621 el jesuita portugués Mateus de Couros (1568-1632?) dijo que la comunidad gozaba de gran quietud, porque Shigemasa sabía que los católicos vivían en paz y pagaban los tributos sin quejarse, pero su actitud pudo cambiar a causa de medidas represivas (nota 19). En marzo de 1623 había 6 jesuitas: el provincial, cuatro padres y un hermano, además había mendicantes, el daimio los toleraba mientras actuaran con cuidado y en secreto, porque necesitaba ingresos estables y de 1618 a 1625 se estaba haciendo un castillo (jōkamachi 城下町) donde pudieran vivir sus ayudantes. Por las largas estancias en Edo, muchos señores tenían que afrontar gastos y mantener siervos militares (gun’yaku 軍役) por eso no querían aplicar violencia a los cristianos. Pero en esa primera mitad del XVII muchos campesinos emigraban en busca de fortuna, los llamaban campesinos errantes (hashiri byakushō 走百姓), como en Shimabara había muchos católicos, podía perder mucha población si los perseguían. En diciembre de 1625 arrestaron al provincial y 3 jesuitas.
(368) junto con sus catequistas (dōjuku 同宿), ayudantes (komono 小者) y familias que los acogían. Shigemasa estaba en Edo y no podía fingir que ignoraba la presencia de los misioneros, que no habían tenido cuidado. Según Torres, actuó "por no poner en riesgo su estado". Entre 1625 y 1633 fueron ejecutados unos 100. Cristóvão Ferreira (c.1580– 1650) wrote a document of 148 pages about the situation of Shimabara in 1627, año en que mataron a 50.
For the first time, the village headmen (shōya 庄屋) and elders (otona 乙名) had to establish lists of Christians (f. 125). According to Ferreira, the village elite and the retainers (criados) were the main targets of the Matsukura clan: it was believed their apostasy would show the path to the rest of the population (f. 126). Besides these two groups, only people with a certain social status were examined and sometimes tortured when they hesitated. Women and children were generally, but not always, spared. The officers of the lord organized the persecutions. Seemingly, in 1627, the Buddhist clergy had a minor role (or no role at all) in the anti- Christian policy. This situation evolved swiftly. In a report about Kyūshū mission in 1629 and 1630 also written by Cristóvão Ferreira, the role of the Buddhist clergy is emphasized. 27 As is known for other ancient Christian domains like Ōmura28 or the city of Nagasaki 長崎,29 after 1614, numerous temples and shrines were built to replace the churches. In the meantime, monks of different schools sat themselves in these promising lands. To all appearances, Shimabara knew the same phenomenon: the commoners were forced to give lands and houses to the monks, to entrust them... Ferreira wrote that Catholics, especially the householders, had to “idolize” (idolatrar) Buddhas (fotoque) in front of the monks and the officers. From the low number of martyrs during these two years and what is said by Ferreira, we can infer that abjuration was the priority of the lord. Those who refused to deny their faith would be tortured until they had given up Christianity.
Presumably, during the first decades following the ban, the Christians and the authorities gradually built up a modus vivendi. The warriors, in most cases, pretended that the threat of Christianity had faded away, while the practice of the remaining Christians would become increasingly discreet: the latter could believe whatever they wanted as long as they complied formally with the laws. From 1638 until 1658, in the aftermath of the Shimabara-Amakusa revolt, Inoue Masashige 井上政重 (1585– 1661), a “great inspector” (ōmetsuke 大目付) of the Bakufu and a trustworthy vassal of the Tokugawa family, was given the responsibility to supervise the fight against Catholicism on a national scale; thus his prerogatives went beyond the boundaries of the territories directly governed by the shogunate.30 A compilation of texts written by him was elaborated by his successor Hōjō Ujinaga 北条氏長(1609– 1670): the Kirisuto- ki 契利斯督記 (Notes on Christianity).31 Its reading allows us to get a good grasp of the reality of the anti-Christian measures and the progressive adaptation of the Christians to them. One of its items reveals that control of the forbidden religion was irregular in some domains: Quote 1 Among the lords, some carefully control Christianity; others do not. In the domains where religious measures are not carefully planned, it is easy to hide. In these domains, there are certainly Catholics. It is necessary to watch over, with meticulous care, how temple parishes inspect [their parishioners]. […] There are some domains where, after ordering farmers, merchants and craftsmen to sign Japanese or Southern barbarian oaths and to affiliate to a temple parish, religious inspection is abandoned for one or two years. It is obvious that a lot of Catholics are hiding in places where there is such carelessness.32
(370 sobre secretismo; conceal = ocultar) According to the above- mentioned theses of Ōhashi Yukihiro, we can say he was quite successful. However, the task of the authorities was considerably hardened by the behaviour of the Christians who tended to increasingly conceal their religion. This attitude was, to a certain degree, admitted and encouraged by the Jesuits who distributed booklets, which indicated how Catholics should behave during the ban and how to prepare for martyrdom. One of these texts, which bears no title and was probably written around 1620, was confiscated from the hidden Christian community of Urakami 浦上 at the end of the eighteenth century by the magistrate of Nagasaki (Nagasaki bugyō 長崎奉行).33 A passage in the document detailed six acceptable behaviours from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church: (1) Christians did not need to declare their faith if they were not asked to do so; (2) they could flee if they believed they could not stand firm in the faith (Jp. hītesu ヒイテス/ L. fides); (3) they could hide themselves or (4) dissimulate religious objects; (5) to behave like a gentile (Jp. zenchiyo 前知与/ P. gentio) was strictly forbidden but Christians were allowed to act “neutrally”, “as if they did not seem to have any particular religion” (izure no shūshi tomo miezaru yōni 何の宗旨とも見へざる様に); (6) lastly, with their masters, they could show restraint about religious matters. The Kirisuto- ki clearly shows Christians did not follow the limits established by the missionaries: “Originally, when they were asked if they were Catholics, they absolutely did not try to conceal [the truth]. Currently, they conceal it as much as possible.”34 Many interesting examples of concealment are described: Catholics hid pious images (imase イマセ from the Portuguese imagem) in the hilt of their short swords (wakizashi 脇差) or ashes of priests who had died at the stake inside their pillows or incense boxes;35 they also took advantage of the negligence of the Buddhist clergy in order to “christianize” the coffin of the deceased.36 After their formal apostasy, many Christians continued to secretly possess devotional objects. In 1645, a woman in Hasami 波佐見 (Ōmura) was accused of... Twenty years ago [c. 1625], I went to Nagasaki [from Hasami]. During the ten years I stayed in this city, I joined Zen Buddhism. Afterwards, I came back to Hasami. The religious inspections against Christianity were so harsh I trod upon a Christian object and joined Shingon Buddhism. However my heart was still Christian. I am hiding many Christian objects, statues made of wood and other things. […] This is true, I showed the statue made of wood to Otaku [another woman in the village]. She is the only person to whom I showed it. I do not know anybody else who has a Christian heart [in the village]. Even if you tortured or killed me I would have nothing else to say.37 This behaviour was not the prerogative of the hidden Christians. In the domains of Hitoyoshi 人吉 and Satsuma 薩摩 on the island of Kyūshū, Shin Buddhism (Jōdo Shinshū 浄土真宗) was forbidden from the sixteenth century until the Meiji era; the believers used subterfuge to conceal their faith and religious objects.38 Despite the efforts of Inoue Masashige and the generalization of religious inspection across the whole country from the 1660s, hidden Christians were in many domains tolerated by the authorities who turned a blind eye to their secret practices. The Ōmura kenbunshū 大村見聞集 (Record of things heard and seen in Ōmura), a compilation of historical documents from the past centuries elaborated in the 1830s by the domain of Ōmura, shows that deep inquiries were generally avoided.39 In this fief, after the arrest of more than five hundred hidden Christians in 1657–1658 in Kōri 郡 and around this village,40 religious inspection was greatly reinforced: villagers were expected, for example, to organize in groups of five families (goningumi 五人組), to show before cremation – which also had become mandatory – the corpse of all the deceased to the Buddhist clergy, and to receive religious certificates (tera’uke tegata 寺請手形) from their parish temple.
Ōmura. Around 1640, 80 percent of the temples could not survive on only their land holdings; they needed the pecuniary support of their parishioners.44 Also, “purity of faith” was perhaps of no importance for most of the Buddhist clergy. This attitude explains why only a few hidden Christian communities were denounced until the end of the ban in 1873.45
(373) Se ha dicho que los jesuitas toleraban la apostasía nominal y que el martirio solo se exigía al clero: 46 Asami, Kirishitan jidai no gūzō sūhai キリシタン時代の偶像崇拝. Tōkyō: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai 東京大学出版会, 2009, pp.284– 286.
Pero en el s. XVII esto no era tan sencillo. Kirisuto- ki, it is written that “when [the officers] ask old women, [and more generally speaking] women, to tread an image of Deus (Deusu no fumie デウスの踏絵), their faces turn red; they throw out their headdresses, breathe heavily and sweat.” Inoue Masashige added that some of the women revered these images far from prying eyes.47 Missionaries also described the anxiety of their flock when they had to renounce Christianity publicly. In the aforementioned annual report of the Kyūshū mission for the years 1629 and 1630, Ferreira depicted the reaction of the Christians of Shimabara to the obligation they had to venerate the Buddha in front of monks as follows: Quote 4 The poor Christians were in great despair and anxiety because, on one hand, even if it was feigned, they knew the great offense they made to God by venerating the Buddha and, on the other hand, they deeply feared the pain of the torture usually used by the cruel tyrant on those who refused to obey; they felt that they did not have the spirit to endure the suffering and could not succeed in hiding. There was no means or road to escape. Finally, the majority was defeated by fear and weakness. They got together in the house of the Buddhist priest as they were told to. Some of them, a minority, [openly] venerated [the Buddha]. Most people, since they did not venerate, remained silent. 48
(374) se perdonaba, pero cada vez era más difícil encontrar un sacerdote para confesarse. CITAS de NSK: In 1617, Couros collected the accounts of seventy-five communities scattered all over the archipelago, from the north of Honshū 本州 to the south of Kyūshū.50 Each account, which was presented as an oath made on the Gospel (Ewanseriyo ゑわんせりよ), bore the signatures of important laymen from the community: village headmen, brotherhood leaders and samurai. The Japanese Catholics used similar words to those of Torres’ letter to describe the work of the fathers. For instance, the representatives of Urakami wrote: Quote 6 We do not mention the facts before [the ban]. After Lord Daifu [Tokugawa Ieyasu] started the repression against the Christian community, a father of the Company stayed for a long time in Urakami. [The Jesuits] hear the confessions of the Christians, give the sacraments, pick up those who had gone against the faith and convert gentiles. They spare no effort when they help the Christians. Nota 50 This document was published and described by Matsuda Kiichi 松田毅一: Kinsei shoki Nihon kankei nanban shiryō no kenkyū 近世初期日本関係南蛮史料の研究 [abb. NSK]. Tōkyō: Kazama Shobō 風間書房, 1967, pp.1022– 1145. Esta sin fecha determinada: [The Provincial] sends the fathers to accomplish different missions in all the kingdoms [of Japan]. We have accomplished more missions during the suppression than during peace. Since we have no houses or determined places to settle, we are forced to travel all over these regions and to face great dangers. But, [this situation] bears many fruits and is beneficial for the Christians. We hear the confession of many people and there are always new baptisms. Others, who had fallen because of the fury of the suppression, got up again.
(375) In 1622, the Dominican Diego Collado (1589– 1641) imitated Couros
In the testimonies gathered by Collado, we can read the following words from the leaders of a Dominican brotherhood in the villages of Chijiwa 千々石 and Ōtsuru 大津留 in the peninsula of Shimabara: Quote 7 Any priest, whatever his branch, is a representative of the only God. He spreads the real teaching of the Holy Church which is unique. This fact is absolutely certain. Thus, whatever the branch of the priests who will be wandering around our villages, we are determined to give them hospitality and to ask them to sustain our souls.53 This lack of priests, which was already obvious before the ban, worsened after 1614. In November of that year, about a hundred fathers and brothers left Japan for Macao or Manila. There were around thirty Jesuits in the country between 1615 and 1622, but their number declined steadily until 1632. In 1633, eleven of the seventeen survivors were caught by the authorities, and in the 1640s, the presence of missionaries in the archipelago was completely over.54 Before 1614, the sacrament of penance and reconciliation, commonly called confession, had great success among the Japanese Christians.55 The missionaries, who tried to follow the instructions of the Council of Trent (1545– 1563), exhorted their flock to confess once a year. However, they were not enough
(376) 1603 the Jesuits published a short opus titled Konchirisan no riyaku こんちりさん のりやく (The merits of contrition).56 Contrition is the sincere pain the Christian endures after having offended God; it is also the first of the three steps (contrition, confession, and satisfaction) in the sacrament of confession. The author of the text explains that anyone who sincerely regrets his sins, promising to confess to a priest as soon as possible, receives absolution. It seems the Christians considered it a great help, especially after 1614. Indeed, along with books of prayers and calendars, this is one of the few documents produced by the missionaries that was copied during the two hundred and fifty years of the ban. Many hidden Christian villages, which “reconverted” to Catholicism during the Meiji era, had copies of the text.57 Some leaders, for whom its content was mostly incomprehensible because of the many Portuguese and Latin words, were able to recite it completely. In 1869, the priests of the Paris Foreign Mission Society published a corrected version and distributed it among their new flock.58
before 1614, Japanese Christians considered scourging as an efficient way to obtain the forgiveness of God.60 This kind of behaviour was not peculiar to the Catholic community. In Japan, sins, or better- said, impurities (tsumi 罪), are often seen as a burden that needs to be lightened by one’s efforts or those of someone else.61 In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, many
(377) lay followers (monto 門徒) of Shin Buddhism, in contradiction with the teaching of their school, thought the sole reliance on the mercy of the Buddha Amida 阿弥陀 was not enough to guarantee their rebirth in the Pure Land (Gokuraku 極楽). As a matter of fact, seclusion from the world (tonsei 遁世) or asceticism (kugyō 苦行) were widely practiced.62
Cofradías: It is important to note that these villages all played a central role in the Revolt of Shimabara- Amakusa. It was even argued that confraternities facilitated the mobilization of the peasants.65 Nakamura, “Shimabara no ran to sakoku” 島原の乱と鎖国. Asao Naohiro 朝尾直弘 (Ed.), Iwanami kōza Nihon rekishi 9 – Kinsei 1 岩波講座日本歴史9 近世1. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書店, 1975, pp.227–262
(378) These texts are known because they are part of the documents sent by Collado to Spain in 1622. Indeed, in the regulations, the Jesuits forbade their flock to have contact with missionaries of the mendicant orders... regulations of the Confraternity of Jesus, we can read as follows: Quote 8 The ban [on the clergy] is now so strict, you understand you cannot go to the church, attend mass, listen to sermons or meet with the fathers and brothers [of the Company] anymore. It is thus extremely important that, at intervals, Christians get together here and there, and exhort one another to work for their salvation and fortify their faith. Therefore, you need to constantly encourage each other and meet on determined dates. It goes without saying that such behaviour will truly make you earn, for each of you, many merits [from God]. You have to understand that supporting your neighbour is an extraordinarily meritorious deed.69 NSK, p.1148.
(379) 70 P. 1150 Quote 9 Recently, the Devil is leading the Christians to the path of evil; he makes them lose their faith, and he tries hard to make them fight the laws of God. This fact is without any doubt. Christians, who are the servants of God, must unite their heart, strengthen their faith and exhort piety. You need to do your best for the laws [of God] to become more and more prosperous. Constantly remind those who are under your direction that behaving in this way confers many merits in front of God.70
Prayers were depicted as an efficient practice to redeem sins: in the Confraternity of Jesus, every time one of the brothers died, all the members had to recite the rosary once and seek indulgences so that to transfer their merits to the deceased (ekō 廻向); during each reunion, they recited five Ave Maria and Pater Noster for the souls in Purgatory. In addition, the majority of the indulgences granted concerned mutual help. For example, a brother received a partial indulgence each time he said fifteen Pater Noster or Ave Maria for the redemption of a Christian who had committed a mortal sin, or when he helped a dying person to prepare his soul in his last moments. Jesuits often complained to Rome that, instead of opening new missions, Dominicans and Franciscans were expanding their brotherhoods in the strongholds of the Company like Shimabara or Nagasaki.72 (1623 Protesta de 11 jesuitas) This success can be explained by the fact that Christians perceived these organizations as collective insurance for the afterlife. In one of the testimonies gathered by Collado, Christians wrote they were attracted by the indulgences given by the Pope to the Dominican confraternities.73 Some may even have tried to be members of more than one brotherhood to accumulate more merits. In the rules of the Confraternity of Mary, it is written that a brother should not belong to another kumi 組, i.e., a brotherhood controlled by the Dominicans.
(380) la revuelta.
The revolt of Shimabara- Amakusa, on which there are numerous historical documents,74 [A local historian, Tsuruta Kurazō 鶴田倉造, published, in 1994, the most comprehensive collection of documents related to the revolt: Tsuruta (Ed.), Genshiryō de tsuzuru Amakusa Shimabara no ran 原史料で綴る天草島原の乱 [abb. ASR]. Hondo 本渡 [Amakusa]: Hondo Municipality, 1994. The 1592 documents of this collection are classified in chronological order. In- text, I give the number of the document quoted.] allows us to analyse how religious mentalities had evolved at the end of the 1630s. I argue that the remorse of apostasy was an essential feature of the revolt, and even one of its principal triggers: the aim of the insurgents was to find new means to make peace with God and, therefore, to guarantee salvation. Before starting the examination of the sources, some facts about the revolt have to be shared.75 In November 1637, peasants who, for the majority, used to be Christians, started to gather around a young charismatic leader Masuda Tokisada 益田時貞 (1621?– 1638), better known under the name of Amakusa Shirō 天草四郎. Swiftly, the rebels attacked the domanial armies. At its peak, it is said that 37,000 men and women, led by former samurai (rōnin 浪人), village headmen and probably brotherhood leaders, participated in the revolt. They came from villages in the southern part of Shimabara Peninsula and the east islands of Amakusa archipelago. The revolt was a failure. It ended on the 12th of April 1638 with the massacre of the insurgents in the castle of Hara 原. The causes of the revolt are still discussed today by Japanese historians. If, in the past, socioeconomic elements were privileged, 76 since the 1980s, many have pointed out the religious motivations of the movement.77
It was written on the 29th of November 1637 and bore the name of Kazusa Juwan (João) か づさじゅわん. Kazusa 加津佐 is a village situated on the west coast of the peninsula: Quote 10 We declare as follows: a celestial being came down from heaven. God will judge the gentiles with fire. Anyone who chooses Christianity has to join us rapidly. Village headmen and elders must do the same. You need to spread this message in the islands. The monks of the gentiles will also be forgiven if they become Christians. Lord Amakusa
(382) Shirō is a celestial being. He is summoning us. Those who in Japan will not become Christians, God will throw them by their left foot in hell. You need to be conscious of this. 10th month, 13th day, Kazusa Juwan.78
In the first month of the revolt, many testimonies lead us to think the insurgents believed God was sending them messages through miracles or natural phenomena. Two weeks after the call of Juwan, a relative of Amakusa Shirō, Watanabe Kosaemon 渡辺小左衛門 (1610– 1638), also the district headman (ōjōya 大庄屋) of Ōyano 大矢野, an island located in the east of Amakusa archipelago, was arrested by samurai of the Kumamoto domain. We have the text of his first deposition: Quote 11 – [Here is what I can say] about the Christian uprising which broke out recently in Shimabara. In Hinoe, a locality of Shimabara Peninsula, there was an old image of a divinity whose edges were torn up. We secretly wished to restore it but that was impossible. However, around twenty days before the events, the image was like new. Nobody knew how such a thing had happened. We were astounded. People from the surroundings heard about this fact and many came to venerate [the image]. At the moment of this extraordinary event, the one who is called “Gaspar the Blessed” preached and said marvellous things. The deputy learnt of this and arrested Gaspar. This is the reason why everything started. – Around the 27th or 28th of the 10th month, the Christians of Amakusa started their uprising. They had heard about the Christian miracles, which had happened in Shimabara and thought they should venerate the image [or God?] […].79
(383) the Bakufu wanted to understand what the deep motivations of this army of peasants were. The first message of the insurgents was transmitted on the 26th of February: Quote 13 Do you think we entrenched ourselves in this castle in order to take control of the domain or to stir up a revolt against our lords? [Our aims] are completely different. As you have known for a long time, Christianity strictly forbids [its followers] to join another religion. But the Shogun reiterated many times the ban on [our religion]. This confused us. Those who thought it was impossible to consider the afterlife with disdain did not change their religion; this is why they had to endure harsh examinations. [The authorities] used inhuman means by covering them with shame and driving them into a state of utter destitution. Then, they were killed for the Lord of Heaven. The others [i.e., us], even those who continued to be faithful [to God], complied with the law on several occasions; while holding tears of blood, they changed their religion. They behaved this way because they were attached to the flesh or because they feared punishment. Recently, thanks to the miraculous action of God, [the faith] of the inhabitants [of the region] has revived [another possibility: everything went up in flames]. We do not wish to seize the domain. We do not act out of lust. If we behave like before and if there is no change in the ban, it will be difficult for us to endure the examinations and, by mental or physical weakness, we will [again] neglect the Almighty God. Behaving this way would mean we assign too much importance to our ephemeral life in this world. We would have been pathetic if we had not collaborated with the great work [of God]. This is why we are acting like this now. What we are doing is not wicked. […]81 ASR- 1053.
(384) An internal rule of the rebels, allegedly written by Amakusa Shirō, gives us other details about their beliefs and practices; it was found and copied by the troops of the Kumamoto domain. The document was distributed three weeks before the end of the siege, on the 16th of March, when the defeat seemed ineluctable. Military duties were compared to religious obligations (prayer, fasting or mortification) and as the only means for the repentant Christians to save their souls. Half of the eight articles of the document concern that question: Quote 14 1– You who have joined this castle, by committing many sins, you had disobeyed [God?]. Therefore, your salvation in the afterlife was uncertain. But, thanks to a particular blessing, you have been called to serve in this castle. Do you understand the greatness of this benefit? It is not necessary to say it but accomplish your duty keeping this in mind. 2– Do not limit yourself to prayers, fasting and mortification of the flesh. Here and there, you must help repair the castle and defend it against the heretics. Prepare the weapons. All of this is part of your duties. 3– Your stay in this world is temporary. You, the people of this castle, know that your time [in this world] is about to end. Day and night, constantly repent for your past, do your daily duties and focus on prayers. […] 5– The sin of idleness might spread [among you]. We are experiencing a crucial event, especially now because it is Lent. Keep your post rigorously and serve day and night. Some of the occupants of the castle shut themselves away in their hut and lounge carelessly. This is intolerable. Remind all the people [of the castle]. […]82 ASR-1236
the fierce defence of the rebel troops until the very last moment of the siege shows this rule certainly mirrored the beliefs of a significant number of the occupants of the castle.83 The archeological excavations organized in Hara Castle testify to the Christians’ fierce resistance until the very last day:
Dutch and Japanese sources point out the destructive behaviour of the Christians. Nicolaes Couckebacker, the director (opperhoofd) of the Dutch East India Company in Japan, who was in Hirado at the end of 1637, wrote in his diary, (386) on the 26th of December, the peasants had burnt “Japanese churches” (Japansche kercken), i.e., temples and shrines, and built new places of worship where they had erected statues of Jesus and Mary. On the 8th of January, he reported the rebels, like penitents, all wore white clothes and bore crosses on their forehead.88 [The diaries of the directors of the Dutch East India Company were partially edited by the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tōkyō (Tōkyō Daigaku Shiryō Hensan- jo 東京大学史料編纂所). The entries related to the revolt of Shimabara- Amakusa can be found in Tōkyō Daigaku Shiryō Hensan- jo 東京大学史料編纂所 (Ed.), Oranda shōkan- chō nikki: Genbun オランダ商館長日記－原文, vol. 3. Tōkyō: Tōkyō Daigaku 東京大学, 1977, pp.84– 142.] At the end of the revolt, Sekido Mokuemon 関戸杢右衛門, an inhabitant of Ōyano Island, who had remained loyal to the lord of Amakusa, declared to the authorities the Christians had burnt the “gods” (kamigami 神々) of his village.89 ASR- 1590.
Three weeks after the beginning of the event, seventy-three inhabitants of Iwaya 岩家, a village located on Ōyano Island, fled to Misumi 三角, a territory controlled by the domain of Kumamoto. They declared to the officers that Christians had threatened to kill them if they refused to convert. However, as followers of Shin Buddhism, they had preferred to escape. The same had happened to the Buddhist clergy of the island.90 ASR- 60.
However, we do not have many documents about the “real” Shirō. One exception is the account of his mother; she was captured in Kumamoto domain at the beginning of the revolt. According to her, Shirō came from Ōyano Island; his real name was Tokisada and he was the son of Masuda Jinbei 益田甚兵衛 (?– 1638), an ancient retainer of the Christian lord Konishi Yukinaga 小西行長 (c.1555– 1600). He learnt to read and write, and studied in Nagasaki. Apparently, nothing distinguished him from the other youngsters from the upper sectors of the peasantry.91 [Ōhashi, Kenshō Shimabara- Amakusa ikki, pp.114– 115.]
(387) The most detailed account was made by Yamada Emosaku 山田右衛門作, a painter from Kuchinotsu 口之津 and one of the generals of the rebel army until his betrayal, who was captured on the 12th of April 1638 by the shogunal army. His life was spared. According to him, five inhabitants of Ōyano were spreading a prophecy before the revolt, which would have been first told by a priest in 1614, when he was expelled from Japan. The prophecy can be summarized as follows: twenty-six years after the ban, people in the region would witness marvellous phenomena and the appearance of a virtuous man (zennin 善人) endowed with extraordinary skills.92 ASR- 1526 Some argued the revolt leaders had used Shirō to “accomplish” the prophecy and therefore to provoke the uprising of the peasants.93 Sukeno, Shimabara no ran, pp.158– 159.
For instance, it was said he was able to walk above water or that he had, in front of witnesses, received a religious text (kyōmon 経文) from a bird!94 According to Yamada Emosaku, some Christians thought he was immortal because he could not be reached by the weapons of the enemies.95 A man who had deserted Hara Castle recounted, during his interrogation with the Tokugawa armies, that Shirō was considered by the insurgents to be superior to the abbot of the Honganji 本願寺, the head temple of Shin Buddhism.96
a non- Christian itinerant merchant, who was doing business in Amakusa, had met him and described him as wearing a white ruff and baggy trousers tight around the ankles.97 Another witness, who had escaped from Hara Castle, even reported he had red hair. He also added that, during the siege, Shirō virtually never left his headquarters.98 The aim was perhaps to convince the insurgents they were led by a foreign priest.
(388) (389) Secrecy, which could be viewed, at first sight, as the most rational choice for those who wished to continue practicing Christianity without putting their lives at risk, was thus extremely painful. It encouraged the Christians to compensate for their sins by increasing individual and collective rituals. However, as the accounts of the insurgents of Shimabara and Amakusa reveal, all these compensatory acts were considered insufficient: only God’s intervention could permit the abolition of anti- Christian measures, allow the believers to properly practice their cult and, therefore, guarantee their salvation.