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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Nanban Dera Kyoto

Nanban Dera南蛮寺京都

On a narrow crowded Kyoto downtown street is a concrete pole that commemorates a long-gone church.

During the Warring States Period (15th - early 17th century), there was a brief time during which Christian missionaries were allowed into Japan.

In 1561, a small chapel was built by said missionaries in Kyoto. The missionaries were from Spain or Portugal, and referred to in Japanese as "Nanban" - southern barbarians.

The chapel was referred to locally as "Nanban Dera," or Barbarian Temple. The missionaries themselves called it St. Mary's.

Churches were also constructed in Yamaguchi, Hirado, Nagasaki, Sakai, Osaka, Edo, and other locations.

In 1576, the Kyoto church was in need of repair, and the missionaries carried them out.

In 1587, however, Toyotomi Hideyoshi promulgated the Purge Directive Order to the Jesuits, which banned the missionaries.

The church was torn down and never rebuilt.

Today, the Wako Corporation has a building on the site, and employees park their bikes all around the historical marker.

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