Logo Logo
Switch Language to German
Völker, Christoph Marc ORCID: 0000-0003-0642-5010 (2020): Mission ins Ungewisse. Die frühe jesuitische Mission in Japan. Bachelor, UNSPECIFIED


In 1549 the first group of Jesuit missionaries, led by Francisco de Xavier, landed in Japan and started the first Christian mission in early modern Japan. Previously, after meeting some Japanese in Malacca, an impressed Xavier decided to set sail for Japan, a country the Jesuits had yet to explore and proselytize. Therefore the Jesuit mission to Japan was a mission into the uncertain. This thesis examines the following questions: How did the first Jesuit missionaries in Japan manage to carry out their mission? What were the reactions and problems they encountered? And how did they deal with them? To answer these questions, a systematic analysis of Jesuit sources is employed. As the main focus is on the actions of the Jesuits and their perceptions of Japan, their letters and reports as well as Luís Fróis’s historical work on the Jesuit mission in Japan will be thoroughly examined. Also, as the analysis deals with the first years of the Jesuit mission in Japan, it will focus on the period from their arrival in 1549 to 1556 when the destruction of Yamaguchi ended Japan’s first Christian community. Thereby this study aims to provide a comprehensive view on the early Jesuit mission in Japan. This study is divided into three parts. Chapter one explores the Jesuit missionaries’ approach to dealing with the Japanese language and communication problems. This chapter discusses their language study, the translations of their Christian catechism and their use of interpreters. The second chapter examines the relationship between the Jesuit missionaries and the Buddhist monks, focusing on the Jesuits’ perception of Buddhism in Japan, the religious disputations between missionaries and monks, and the persecutions of Jesuits by Buddhist monks. The third chapter explores the relationship between the Jesuit missionaries and the Japanese rulers. It discusses the missionaries’ adaption to Japan’s political situation and explores, by examining case studies, the Jesuits’ approach to establishing and keeping fruitful relationships with the daimyō.