Japan closed its doors to foreigners for over two hundred years because of religious and political instability caused by Christianity. By 1859, foreign residents were once again living in treaty ports in Japan, but edicts banning Christianity remained enforced until 1873.
Ion investigates the impact of American Protestant missionaries and Christian laymen, or oyatoi, from their arrival in 1859 to 1873, when Christianity was propagated openly. Drawing on an impressive array of English and Japanese sources, he grounds the hopes and aspirations of these early missionaries – along with their efforts in private, mission, and government schools – in the realities of Japanese opposition to Christianity. The transmission of values and beliefs in this context was not a simple matter of acceptance or rejection: missionaries saw promise even in the face of open hostility. As informal agents of the United States and as integral members of the American community in Japan, they also served as important cultural mediators between the East and the West.
American Missionaries, Christian Oyatoi, and Japan, 1859–73 brings to light a crucial but neglected aspect of the Japanese-American relationship. It will appeal to students and scholars of modern Japan, international relations, and Christian missions.
Indispensable read for any scholar of the Meiji era or Christianity in Japan.
Hamish Ion has availed himself of an impressive array of sources in this original and nuanced study of the interaction between American Protestants and their Japanese contacts. His depiction of the complexity of their engagement makes this book invaluable reading for scholars of foreign missions and international relations, while the light he sheds on the impact of foreigners and Western ideas during the late Tokugawa and early Meiji periods contributes significantly to understanding of Japan at one of its most formative stages.
This important work depicts in persuasive detail the lives of the first Protestant missionaries to Japan as they waited fourteen years in segregated settlements for government permission to extend their faith throughout the land. They acted, in Hamish Ion’s colourful phrase, as 'walking encyclopaedias' of Western life. Based on in-depth references to Japanese and Western sources, American Missionaries, Christian Oyatoi, and Japan, 1859–73 is highly recommended.
Hamish Ion may well be the greatest living authority on the history of Protestant missions to Japan.
1 Beginnings in Bakumatsu Japan
2 Hoping for Change
3 In the Midst of a Restoration
5 Overseas Students
6 Teaching in the Provinces and in Tokyo
7 Reinforcements and New Beginnings
8 The Yokohama Band
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