The History of Christian Persecution in Japan: The 26 Martyrs of Nagasaki

Photo from original article at
Photo from original article at

It might surprise you to learn that in the late 16th century, Japan nearly became a Christian nation.

We don’t normally do this, but my friend Cody discovered an excellent article on the history of Christian persecution in Japan that I felt I just needed to re-post. The article is a short read, considering that it spans from the first arrival of Jesuit missionaries in Japan until the ultimate crackdown and martyrdom of thousands in the early 17th century. Check it:

By Michael Lee

In January 1597, a small group of people were led to a hill in Nagasaki. It had been a long journey for them, for they’d been paraded as prisoners all the way from Kyoto, and their ears and noses had been mutilated. Ethnically, they were an interesting mix: four Spaniards, one Mexican, one Indo-Portuguese, and twenty Japanese, including three boys, the youngest aged only twelve. What they had in common was their faith: they were all Christians, a crime for which they would die.

According to tradition, they had numerous chances to recant their faith, but they refused. What followed was bloody: they were crucified, their sides were pierced with spears, and they were left to die on the crosses, becoming the first, but not last Christian martyrs in Japan.

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By Erich Boileau

Erich is a disciple of Jesus, writer and designer with over 10 years experience in web development. Currently he lives and works in Osaka with his beautiful bride Emi, where he also studies Japanese language and culture.

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