Above 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.
But 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.
In 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.
Unfortunately 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.
Not 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.