KAKURE KIRISHITAN (HIDDEN CHRISTIANS)

   Following the Tokugawa proscription of Christianity in the 17th century, many practicing Japanese Christians took their beliefs underground, and for two centuries secretly practiced a modified form of Catholicism. Their existence became known after Japan opened to the West, when foreign priests discovered and met with them in and around Nagasaki. The proscription had not been lifted, however, and Japanese professing to be Christian were imprisoned, tortured, or exiled until 1873 when the ban was officially lifted after Japan encountered fierce pressure from overseas governments. Hidden Christians play an important role in many modern novels. Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Endo Shusaku, and Shimao Toshio, among others, write of the kakure kirishitan in their stories.

Historical dictionary of modern Japanese literature and theater. . 2009.

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