Christianity in Japan presents us with a number of paradoxes. For example, although the majority of Japanese today choose Christian-style weddings, the actual number of Christians amounts to less than one per cent of the total population (as opposed to 25 per cent in its close cultural neighbour, South Korea). This ‘failure’ contrasts with the relatively greater growth of Christianity in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, even though the total number of missionaries was much smaller and the linguistic and logistical barriers greater. Perhaps the greatest paradox occurred after Christianity was virtually eliminated through an increasingly severe campaign of persecution from 1614 onwards. Small groups in isolated communities succeeded in preserving recognisably Christian beliefs and practices. However, many of these groups refused to accept the authority of Roman Catholic missionaries when they returned to Japan in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the course we will consider these and other issues, using a combination of primary and secondary materials. By studying the activities and ideas of missionaries, Japanese Christians, and Japanese who did not become Christian, student will gain general understanding of the dynamics of cross-cultural contact. They will also learn about the nature of history through interpreting primary materials and studying different approaches to the history of Christianity in Japan.
Message to those taking this Course:
I hope to attract students from a variety of backgrounds. This is because the course will gain from the combined viewpoints of people from
areas which have sent Christianity missionaries to Japan, such as Portugal and the United States, and of people from areas which have played
host to Christian missionaries, both in Asia (including Japan itself) and elsewhere.
I will expect students to attend all classes, on time, to do the assigned readings, and to participate in class presentations and discussions.
Sessions will be organised into a combination of formal lectures and interactive seminars.
- Oral presentations (30%)
- Reports (At least one short and one long)(50%)
- Attendance and Participation (20%)