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Christianity in Ancient Japan long before the Europeans

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posted on Nov, 18 2018 @ 07:48 PM
I was curious about the history of Christianity in Japan and almost all sources claim that it arrived there only with the arrival of the Portuguese traders.

This may be true for Western Christianity but it was a global religion long before European's spread there own particular brand of it often supposedly civilizing the heathen's and so this assumption just never sat right with me.

I thought to myself the Japanese are an island nation, they have traded far and wide for many thousands of years though they were always more of a nation of fishermen and farmers than traders and they have many lost chapters to there history which made me very curious and I had to ask the question could there ever have been an indigenous Christianity or a faith derived from it potentially brought by trade and contact with other nation's as well as eastern missionary and my gut tell's me there must have been at least some contact between early eastern christian's and ancient Japan.

Now often the terrain and dominant religion's and cultures of the world are used to explain why an early form of Christianity has not left a mark upon some cultures but Judaism and Christianity have been present in india (And the pre-Islamic Hindu kush) since perhaps the third century or even earlier in India and India at least through trade would have had at least an indirect contact with Japan.

Now there are people far more versed on the history mysteries of this world than me right here on ATS and some very knowledgeable Japanese members as well as US citizen's whom live in Japan.

It is interesting to consider though (and a break from politics and doom gloom stuff) so I hope this spark's a lively debate.

Once again while I found that I loved Japan and the Japanese people (most of them anyway) I have only visited the country once and am far from an expert, the dominant religion's of Japan though may have erased or absorbed evidence of early Christianity and with Japan's turbulent history of the past thousand years and internal war's even more may have been lost over that time in that respect.
While similar in some way's Buddhism would have clashed on point's were it was very different so any early christian Japanese would probably have been absorbed into that while the native religion of Japan is more a nature spirit belief system which was a common system throughout almost the entire world at one time.
It is possible that if such an early Japanese Christianity existed it would have been very different to the European version.

I remember also seeing a video on the old You Tube were a guy was told by a Chinese guy in a town in western China that there ancient Buddhist temple had christian images inside but the local's would not let him gain entry, there ancestors may have been Chinese christian's whom became Buddhist and converted there church into a Buddhist site but they would not allow him to enter the structure and were angry about his wish to take a camera inside, now that is China and still thousands' of miles from Japan but if he was correct then it would suggest that ancient Christianity was practiced in some form or other there over a thousand years ago once again demonstrating it is not only a western religion as the world see's it today but that there were once indigenous eastern branches which were every bit as important to the overall tapestry of the history of the religion and the nations it was once found within as is the modern western variation.

Anyway I know my post is short on fact's, short on evidence - in fact has non but I am hoping some of you will bring good argument's for and against this being an actual historical fact rather than mere supposition and with that I leave this debate to you - I shall hide behind the bullet proof glass over here somewhere.

To Re-post the two articles indicated in the link provided, they are very intriguing not least with respect to the thought that a temple in Kyoto may actually have been a Christian site and that Nestorian Christianity may have reached japan very early indeed.
Sorry the second url is a bit long for ATS just scroll back to the bottom of the first link page here.
edit on 18-11-2018 by LABTECH767 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 18 2018 @ 08:21 PM
I believe you, having seen that real history has been nearly erased almost everywhere. Did you know that the Assyrian Orthodox Church was once the biggest branch of Christianity? Japan would probably have been reached from there.

posted on Nov, 18 2018 @ 08:26 PM
a reply to: Lazarus Short

They split in two when part joined the Catholic church but they still hold there mass in Aramaic and are probably the oldest continuous christian church alive in the world today descended not only from convert's but from Jewish Christian's and probably dating to the first century so that is far more than likely.
They were NOT part of Constantine's empire and were independent of the state church of Rome and Constantinople so it is arguable that there version is the most pure version of Christianity alive today it's tradition's unbroken over time.

posted on Nov, 18 2018 @ 08:26 PM
Interesting to not about China and their language and how it is relevant to much of the bible
Take it or leave it

Kinda makes me wonder what else is "hidden"
I havnt researched this Japanese Hebrew link but could be interesting

posted on Nov, 18 2018 @ 09:27 PM
a reply to: LABTECH767

That's correct - Christians did travel by the Silk Road and there were enclaves all up and down the Silk Road long before the 1600's. Their influence in the east was not as great as the influence of the Buddhists, Hindus, or later Muslims.

posted on Nov, 18 2018 @ 10:25 PM
a reply to: Byrd

I find that Japan Times Article very interesting especially in relation to some legacy christian practice still performed by Buddhist monk's at mount Koya monastery whom still make the sign of the cross and the fact that Japanese Christianity may date back as far as the early seventh century or even earlier.
Also it notes a story that a priest at the Koya San monastery even told one guy that it was originally a Christian monastery, this would of course have been a Japanese christian monastery most like grown out of the early Nestorian christian faith and if proven would show that Christianity was just as indigenous and native to Japan as it is to Europe with a very long and rich history within the country though one that has been hidden and suppressed over the century's since the time when it was originally freely practiced within Japanese society.

The scale of this ancient Japanese Christian worship is best shown perhaps in the final segment of that Japan Times article were a woman whom was born and raised in one of Kyoto's many temples informed one of the Joseph's that as a child her own grandfather had shown her some of the temple's secret treasures including artifacts engraved with cross symbol's which she said many temples in Japan also have, this would surely indicate that at one time BEFORE the Portuguese there was a very sizable Japanese Christian following.

The article even tell's that a Japanese Empress may have become a Christian in the early to mid eight century, this would make them more christian than most European's of that period.
edit on 18-11-2018 by LABTECH767 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 19 2018 @ 12:41 AM
a reply to: LABTECH767

Probably not.

Japans "Official" religion is Shinto, which is more based on tradition, nature and culture.
Buddhism coming in second, with other Chinese style based teaching like Taoists, Confucian etc as well.

Though Japanese traders may have had some contact with Middle Eastern Christians via the silk road, it appears that none of the Arabian religions (Cults) of Judaism, Christian or Muslim have made any great inroads in those times.
All of them (the Arab religions) being derivations and a mishmash of various ancient cultures, myths and legends, from peoples like the Sumerians, Egyptians, and other cultures Cults, of ancient times.

edit on 19-11-2018 by gort51 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 19 2018 @ 01:43 AM
a reply to: LABTECH767

Bear cultist were the first people in there

-The Ainu-

edit on 19-11-2018 by solve because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 19 2018 @ 08:19 AM
The Ainu are believed to have lived in Japan possibly as long as the last ice age, they for a long time and possibly still today suffer a lot of discrimination in Japan and are noted for there almost Caucasoid features such as large noses, being hairy as well as having often curly and also often red hair.
There culture includes nature worship and as Solve point's out bear spirit worship.

As for Shinto it is believed to be the oldest religion in Japan perhaps even derived but certainly influenced by the nature worship of the Ainu, it has little similarity to Tao but that remain's the closest near religion to it.

Some of these people whom have researched Non - European Christianity in Japan include Japanese scholar's and there is a beam left from a temple which was destroyed in a fire which has Nestorian Crosses on it - the Horyu-Ji Temple was destroyed in 670 when it burned down but a beam from the temple survived and is preserved in the Tokyo national museum and there are two Nestorian crosses upon it.
Here are some examples of Confirmed nestorian cross.
As you can see these are unlikely to simply be carpenters mark's and are a little too elaborate to simply be coincidental decoration's especially when coupled with the other evidence that suggests that Nestorianism did indeed reach Japan - OVER a thousand years before the birth of St Francis.

So you ask what was Nestorianism,

edit on 19-11-2018 by LABTECH767 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 19 2018 @ 11:30 AM
I hope you know that there is a tradition that Jesus was buried in a tomb in Shingo Japan.

posted on Nov, 19 2018 @ 12:17 PM
a reply to: crayzeed

I read that, the tomb of Jesus but an investigation came to the assumption it was actually the grave of early Christians or early Christian missionary's, still it's one more proof that Christianity was also a Pre European cultural practice and belief system already native to Japan and the fact that some of the Japanese Buddhist monastery's and temples also have probably links to this early Christianity including artifact's and practices would also suggest that it was actually mostly absorbed into the Buddhist philosophy probably as persecuted christian's went underground.

posted on Nov, 20 2018 @ 03:52 PM
Not only Japan, but Christianity was a global religion? Before the prevalence of the roman catholic church?

Are you just saying the "good news" travelled fast(er than we realize)?

Or are you suggesting something supernatural happened? (kind of) Like how some people say/think Jesus travelled to America? Or perhaps these indigenous peoples had their own Jesus?

edit on 11/20/2018 by 3n19m470 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 20 2018 @ 04:07 PM
a reply to: 3n19m470

I Would say it spread exactly as it was meant to, word of mouth and early missionary's going to teach the good news which was far harder in land's that did not even know the story of the Hebrew God but nevertheless managed to do so.
As for the supernatural as a Christian I do of course believe in that as a fact but I am far more than happy to believe that there were many whom crossed the Atlantic - and the pacific - long before the modern age which was so European centred even to the point of rewriting history (something which by all account's may still be going on today) or simply ignoring evidence of previous contact between these cultures.

Viracocha/Quetzalcoatl which may or may not have been the same guy but at least sound's very similar in there description for example was said to wear a white robe with cross symbol's on it (from what I read in the past I may be mistaken but), have golden hair and blue eye's so likely a European missionary BUT not necessarily since there are apparently also blonde blue eyed natives such as the Chachapoya of the Andes and there are story's of blonde north American Indian tribes as well.

Now with our Eurocentric educational conditioning we automatically assume this mean's contact with European's but in fact it does not, there are native blonde people's all around the world even today, some on isolated pacific island's whom are definitely not European, even among the aboriginal's of Australasia it was not unheard of and there are story's and claim's of blonde native new Zealanders alive and well today whom identify as Maori as well as in Africa (there is even a native population of north African's whom look more Caucasian than most European's but are a distinct genetic group whom have RH negative blood like the Basques etc).

So while I DO believe in miracles and definitely do believe in the supernatural I do not need that to explain this though that all depend's on what you call a miracle as even without direct divine intervention many thing's in this world are miracles, you yourself are in a universe that should not exist but does.

edit on 20-11-2018 by LABTECH767 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 20 2018 @ 04:12 PM
a reply to: 3n19m470
We have to distinguish between the early Christian church and the "Roman Catholic church", which is a much later development.
As long as the Latin and Greek-speaking Christians were working together, the bishop of Rome wa only one among several leaders.
To cut a long story short, the barbarian invasions (500-600 A.D) had the effect of isolating the Latin-speaking backwater in the west from the main body of Christians in the east. Once the backwater was isolated, they began to think of themselves as the real church. So the Pope, as the leader of the Latin backwater, began to think of himself as the sole boss of the real church, arguing that the eastern churches had separated from him (instead of the other way round).
There's even a case that the true foundation of the modern Roman Catholic community was the Council of Trent, less than five hundred years ago, defining their differences from the Protestants rejecting the Pope's authority.

posted on Nov, 20 2018 @ 04:27 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
Absolutely, the Catholic church though claiming much longer lineage may be as late as the seventh century and went through a very dark age in which it was barely Christian with the likes of the Borgia's etc, during that time the orthodox church's remained far more Christian, after the sacking of Rome and the almost total destruction of the Church in Rome at that time it was actually missionary's from remote island's off the coast of Britain and Ireland that are said to have taken there most precious treasures in the form of intact copy's of the bible in the form of illuminated manuscript's back to Rome and helped to re-establish the faith leading it out of a semi pagan state, it remained a church with many problem's though and it's schism with the eastern church's never helped it there but over time it returned to become so close to the original path that when the Syriac orthodoxy - perhaps the oldest continuous established church in existence - underwent it's own schism half of them joined the Catholic Church - in part due to an ancient animosity with the Greek Orthodoxy whom tried to impose it's will over them many time's and whom they actually regarded as heretical - since the Catholic belief's are mostly similar to there own.
Other schism's such as the Anglican break away from the Catholic church which was more down to politics have had other strange consequences such as for example the Anglican church is regarded by the Greek orthodoxy as AN orthodox church in the west while they still have barriers against re-joining the catholic church in part due to a very long bloody history of war's between those whom used Cyrillic and those whom used Latin alphabets which in fact were more about political control than religious fact's since the differences in there belief's are mostly minor.
But for better understanding of the Orthodox way investigate the desert father's.
And remember the simple Jesus prayer said to be one of the most effectual prayer's in Christianity.
"Lord Jesus Christ the son of God have mercy on me a sinner", though the Orthodoxy does not have rosary's like the Catholic's they do have prayer beads and often repeat this prayer.

Myself I believe what the Lord said himself, were ever two or more are gathered in his name there he is also and I believe that denomination is no barrier to that.

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