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Posted by : Fuyuki Takagi Apr 9, 2016

The Latin Dictionary and History of Christianity in Amakusa that Inspired The Investigation of Kindaichi about Amakusa
(Update 9 April 2016)

Hello, everyone ^_^
This time, i will be posting about Manga & Anime Kindaichi, The Amakusa Treasure and its references to the history of the Christians of this region of Japan, this page is contributed by Theseus1.
He has investigated about the history of Christianity in Amakusa, the main theme of Amakusa Treasure Legend Murder Case.

Honestly, I'm very curious with this investigation and I'm glad that someone has investigated this one case.

Previously, Theseus has posting this investigation in KFR Forum.
Well, let's read Theseus's investigation about Amakusa. And thank you very much, Theseus. ^_^

In the investigation of Kindaichi, about the legend of the treasure of Amakusa, are numerous references to the history of the Christians of this region of Japan.

I - The Dictionary Latin-Portuguese-Japanese

In the episode 97, we can see some images of a book written by Portuguese Christian missionaries.

The front cover of this book is visible 9mn35 after the beginning of the episode 97.
Cf. Attachments :  file 1.

The title and the subtitles are written at the top of this page.
Latin text :
Dictionarium latino lusitanicum ac iaponicum, ex Ambrosii Calepini volumine depromptum : in quo omissis nominibus propriis tam locorum quam hominum, ac quibusdam aliis minus usitatis, omnes vocabulantur significationes, elegantioresque dicendi modi apponuntur : in usum et gratiam iaponicae iuuentutis, quae latino idiomati operam nauat, nec non europeorum, qui iaponicum sermonem addiscunt.
English translation :
Dictionary Latin-Portuguese-Japanese, based on Ambrogio Calepino's book, in which there are no proper nouns of places or of men nor little usual terms, the meanings of all the words and the suitable manners to speak are presented to the use and the enjoyment of the japanese youth which studies carefully the Latin language and for the european, which learn to express themselves in japanese.

The bottom of the page presents the place of edition, the authors and the year of publication of this book:

Latin text : in Amacusa in collegio iaponico societatis iesu. cum facultate superiorum.

English translation :

to Amakusa in the Japanese college of the society of Jesus with the eminent faculty 

Year 1595

Between these 2 texts, other Latin words are written on an ellipse :
Latin text :
IESU NRA (the abbreviation of NOSTRA) REDE [ M ] PTIO
English translation : JESUS OUR REDEMPTION

This ellipse frames the blazon of the Jesuits. It is about a sun, with its beams, inside which are visible from top to bottom : a cross, the monogram IHS and 3 nails of the crucifixion. The monogram IHS is an abbreviation of the name of "Jesus" in greek: I (iota) =J, a H ( eta ) = È and S (sigma) = S. JES. = JESUS and IHS. = IHΣOYΣ (in greek).

We can conclude that from it this dictionary Latin-Portuguese-Japanese was used by Jesuits of Portuguese origin. They learnt the Latin to Japanese of Amakusa who wanted to become a priest to allow them to say masses in latin.

An other extract of this dictionary is shown, 9mn44 after the beginning of the episode 97. It is about the definition of the Latin word santerna, ae (a word of the 1st declension) which is upper right of the page 715 : cf. the attached file of the page 715 (file 2).

On this page, we notice in every definition the presence of 2 abbreviations. The 1st : Lus. (lusitanicum) announces a definition in portuguese and the 2nd : Iap. (iaponicum ) announces a definition in japanese.
To arrive at a translation, I then resorted to the dictionary which inspired that of Amakusa, It is the dictionary of Ambrogio Calepino the 1st edition of which dates 1502 (Ambrosii Calepini dictionarium, maximum quanta fide ac diligentia fieri potuit accurate emendatum multisque partibus cumulatum. Adjectae sunt latinis dictionibus, hebraea graecae, gallicae, italicae, germanicae and hispanicae. Accesserunt badges loquendi modi lectiores etymologiae, opposita, translationes, adagia ex optimis quibusque auctoribus decerpta). This dictionary was republished by numerous times and it inspired several dictionaries among which that was writen in Amakusa.

I found on the page 1122 of the edition dating 1578 of the dictionary of Calepino (file 3 and 4), on whom appears the definition of santerna (in the right column, the 7th definition from the bottom).

In this book the defintion of Santerna, santernae, is (in Latin) : chrysocollae genus is, quo aurifices utuntur ad auri ferruminationem.
English translation : A kind of borax as goldsmiths used to weld gold.

II - Summary of theHistory of Christians in and Around Amakusa

1. Geography of Amakusa and Its Surroundings

The Amakusa archipelago is located south of Japan near the island of Kyushu, south of Shimabara Peninsula and southeast of the city called Nagasaki.
Cf. 2 Attachments : (file 5 and file 6).

2. The Arrival of Christianity

From 1549, the first Jesuit missionary arrived in Japan, Francois Xavier is one of the founders of this order ; some years later, the jesuits of portuguese origin follow. In the 1580s the jesuits founded seminars and college in Amakusa. The franciscan order is also present at that time in Japan. This period coincides with the Tensho era (1573-1592) (the time is mentioned several times in the investigation of Kindaichi about Amakusa). Due to the influence of the jesuits, christianity begins to develop in the region of Kyushu and some Japanese feudal lords are among the converts. A few years later in the early seventeenth century, there are nearly 500 000 christians in Japan.

3. Repression of Christianity by The Japanese Authorities

The main japanese leaders are followers of Buddhism and Shintoism. However some of them are afraid of the success of christianity. From 1587 the expulsion of the missionaries was proclaimed.
The Jesuits nevertheless manage to maintain their presence through 1613, and Christianity is still growing.
The anti-Christian persecutions resumed. One of the most famous examples of this repression is crucifying 26 Christians in 1597, around Nagasaki.
In 1600, after the victory of his troops at the Battle of Sekigahara (mentioned in the investigation of Kindaichi, the cursed samurai), the Tokugawa shogun takes power over all the Japan. The time during which successive Tokugawa ruled the Japanese archipelago, is called the era Edo (the old name of the city of Tokyo) which lasts from 1600 to 1868 (the time is mentioned several times in the investigation of Kindaichi in Amakusa). It is a time of deep isolationism for Japan, which then refuses European influence. For christians, the situation becomes difficult in 1614, with the proclamation of the edict of persecution of christians. In the following years the christians are forced to renounce their faith, some are killed, churches are destroyed.

It is in this context that Shimabara revolt occurs in 1637 and 1638 (this insurrection is mentioned in the investigation of Kindaichi in Amakusa). Amakusa and Shimabara are then directed by the Tokugawa partisans, which attract the hostility of the local population by anti-Christian repression and tax increases. The young Amakusa Shiro, who is the son of a former vassal of the christian daimyo clan, Konishi, then became head of the rebellion. The insurgents seized the town of Arima, then gather in the castle of Hara (in the Shimabara peninsula). They manage to repel first two offensive troops of the shogun. But in 1638, following an assault, the 37 000 insurgents are exterminated for 3 days. Amakusa Shiro is part of those killed, he was only 17 years old.
(Cf. the statue visible in episode 95 at 11mn14 to the beginning of the épiode, cf. file 6)

In the following years the isolation of Japan and anti-Christian repression reinforce including the banishment of the Portuguese in 1639 and the establishment of a policy aimed at tracking down Christians.

Despite all these difficulties, Christianity survives in Amakusa and its surroundings thanks to the hidden Christians.
We saw they worshiped statues of the Virgin Mary disguised as goddess Kannon (in episode 95 of Kindaichi). (For japanese buddhist kannon has the appearance of a woman and personifies the compassion). (cf. file 7).

4. The Reopening of Japan to Outside Influences Particularly in The Field of Religion 

In 1853, a fleet of war from the United States and led by Commodore Perry arrives at Tokyo. Perry requires the opening of Japan to trade, and he threat the shogun to bomb the city. The Shogun was therefore forced to give in to US demands. A few years later in 1867, the 15th shogun Tokugawa cedes power to the emperor, the young Mutsohito. The era of the reign of this king is called the Meiji era (1868-1912) (it is mentioned in the episode 95 of Kindaichi). From there, the European influence of the European countries is back in Japan especially in the religious field. However, the latest persecution of Christians in Japan took place between 1868 and 1873, after the return of Christian missionaries (the foreign missions of Paris). In 1865 the father Petitjean just made build the church Oura in Nagasaki, a French concession and the first parishioners are European. Hidden Christians from Urakami come to this church. But in 1868, they were deported and sentenced to forced labor. This provoked the indignation of european public opinion and foreign powers present in Japan for that country to abolish the edict of persecution. The deportees Urakami could return home in 1873. It was only in 1889 that the law on religious freedom was proclaimed in Japan. Since then Christianity is well developed in Japan, especially in formerly Christian areas. Indeed, most of the hidden Christians returned to the bosom of the church. There are still on the islands of Amakusa, Goto and Ikitsuki, a minority of hidden Christians who have preserved their ancient rituals transmitted from generation to generation, including prayers in latin that the missionaries taught to their ancestors. 


File 1 - Front cover of the dictionarium latino lusitanicum ac iaponicum.
(cf. Kindaichi episode 97).

File 2 - The page of the definition of santerna.
(cf. Kindaichi episode 97).

File 3 - The page of the definition of santerna in the latin dictionnary of Calepino

File 4 - The definition of santerna in the latin dictionnary of Calepino.

File 5 - Amakusa's location on the map of Japan.

File 6 - Map of the archipelago of Amakusa and Shimabara peninsula.

File 7 - The Virgin Mary disguised as Kanon.

Yui Shousetsu and Sassa Narimasa

The same investigation of Kindaichi in Amakusa also refers to two men supposed to have each left a treasure , which are famous in the history of Japan ( which have nothing to do with the history of Christians ) : Yui Shōsetsu (cf. file A) and Sassa Narimasa (cf. file B). 

Yui Shōsetsu (1605- 1651) was a samurai. He led a samurai school, then he missed his attempted coup against the Tokugawa shogun ( at the time) in 1645 (which caused his suicide).    

Sassa Narimasa (1536-1588) was a samurai who played an important political role in Japan and who led some provinces of the country ( that of Etchu and that of Higo ) . ( Yui as he also committed suicide : on the order of his head , because he failed to suppress a local rebellion .)

File A - Yui Shousetsu

File B - Sassa Narimasa

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