Early Christian Church in Kyoto

Kanō SōshūLate 16th century

Kobe City Museum

Kobe City Museum
24 Kyo-machi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Japan

So-called "Namban-dera" is a Christian churches with the Japanese-style building which Society of Jesus built as a base of the Kyoto propagation with understanding of Oda Nobunaga. Its formal name is “the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary”.  The consecrating mass was held on August 15, 1576 (the day of the Assumption) before the completion of the church. It was located at Shijo Bomon Ubayanagi-cho, the western part of Kyoto. According to this fan painting, this church was a wooden three-story building topped by a roof covered with fired clay tiles just like other Buddhist temples in Kyoto. It also depicts a shop selling Western-like hats and tell us how prosperous the streets around the church was. Unfortunately, Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued “Edict expelling Christian missionaries” and demolish this church in 1587. This fan is the only visual artifact shows the image of the one of the first Christian churches in Japan in the late 16th century.


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