Sendai’s Samurai

14207665_1080728728648066_2452439199672952245_oAbove are two of Sendai’s most famous samurai – Date Masamune and Hasekura Tsunenaga.

The capital city of Tohoku – Sendai – was founded in the 16th century by Date Masamune (in black). He is considered to be one of the most feared samurai in Japanese history. Legend has it that when he lost his eyesight in one of his eyes due to smallpox, he plucked it out himself. Dubbed the “one eyed dragon”, his keen sense of military strategy made him unbeatable in battle.

14372105_1080729231981349_2358663485633015015_o14352426_1080729891981283_7049993494252253837_oBut he was more than just a great military strategist – under his leadership, Sendai grew from being a tiny backwater fishing village to a flourishing city.

14361443_1080728618648077_9144454227080831218_oIn the interests in securing foreign trade with European nations, Date was quite sympathetic to the work of the first Christian missionaries to Japan, the Jesuit Priests, where he allowed them to preach throughout his domain. Furthermore he established Japan’s first ever envoy to Rome to see the Pope, under the leadership of Hasekura Tsunenaga (above, holding the poster). Reportedly Hasekura became a Christian during this journey, and was baptised in Madrid.

14324675_10153752510891360_2632176236316236722_oUnfortunately when Hasekure returned to Japan, things had changed dramatically politically. Christianity was now illegal, and Christians were facing torture and execution if they did not recant.

14305485_1080729085314697_2804300324447715904_oNot far from where the above photo is taken are statues commemorating three Christians who were drowned in the river for refusing to recant their faith. Some of Hasekure’s descendants and servants were also later executed for refusing to recant Christianity – a sign perhaps that Hasekure had truly believed and had passed on his faith to his household.

Pray for a revival in this land where Christians were once persecuted for their faith.

 

Written by Andrew.

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