BYU Asian Studies Journal


Brayden Lane


BYU Asian Studies, Japan, Christians


In 1659, after enduring three years of torture and refusing to renounce his teachings, a Christian priest was executed in Nagasaki by decapitation under order by local officials. This man, who had taken the name of Bastian at his baptism, had spent the previous several years leading and teaching his fellow Christians in the villages near Nagasaki. He did this in secrecy, for in those days, professing belief as a Christian had been declared illegal by the Japanese government under penalty of death. In the course of his ministry, he saw many of his brethren meet their deaths for their beliefs, yet he continued to lead until his time too had come to be killed. Shortly before his execution, he gave to those Christians under his guidance four prophecies, preaching that of a future day when “confessors would come in great black ships . . . [and] they would be able to walk about openly and sing Christian hymns.” He also declared that “after seven generations . . . [their children] would have their souls saved from distress” for their beliefs. Bastian had been an important leader to these communities of secret Christians, and his last prophecies and teachings would become firmly entrenched in the hearts of many of those he had taught, even until Western missionaries again came to Japan “after seven generations” in the nineteenth century (Turnbull 1998, 117, 120).