19 June 2006

Catholicism in Japan

I can't remember when I first read Shogun (by James Clavell). It was at some point in high school; I can remember visiting my grandmother in Huntington Beach, California, and not caring at all about the beautiful location I was in. I was forever sitting on the floor of her entryway, devouring the book. Before I knew it, I was over seven hundred pages in, and had no intentions of stopping.

Well, I'm rereading it as part of my summer reading list. I haven't been this deep into a book since I read The DaVinci Code over two years ago. This is different, though. Part of me is in this book. I am learning new things at this point, because I consume the book more voraciously now. I am definitely more educated, and have a larger appreciation for my Japanese heritage now than I did when I was sixteen or seventeen.

I am slightly into book two, and just read that by 1600 most of Nagasaki was Catholic. This was due to the growing Portuguese population (of Japan and Macao) and their bringing of their Jesuit priests with them.

It all makes sense now. I always wondered why I wasn't a Buddhist. How my mother became Catholic. How my grandparents were married. Here is a very brief background (all on my mother's side) -

great grandmother - Japanese (from Nagasaki(I guess she was one of the Catholics of Nagasaki then!)), married a Portuguese (from Macao). I assume they were married under the Catholic Church, then.

grandmother - half Japanese and half Portuguese, married an Italian (was in the navy stationed in Japanese waters). I assume they were married under the Catholic Church.

At some point, there was a move to Shanghai. I have to ask my mother about the time line. The British quarter. That's where my mother was born in 1946.

Three years later, communism started sweeping China. My mother and her parents jumped on a boat. It ended up in Venezuela (Hudibana to be exact - oil camps).

I will finish the story of how I now live in South Florida and have a 100% German father some other time, if anybody is interested. ANYWAY, my grandmother moved to California maybe in the 1970s, and converted to Buddhism. Japanese Buddhism. So, one would think that since she's half Japanese (and from Japan), she's always been a Buddhist. But then HOW would my mother be a Catholic, since a child takes on it's mother's religion (most of the time)? This explains it! Eureeka!

I need to get my hands on an encyclopedia and a family tree. I need to know more and figure out if my hunch is right.
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