Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 16
March 15, 2011 (Tue) - April 24, 2011 (Sun)
Following the arrival of Jesuit missionary Francisco de Xavier in 1549, Christianity spread widely throughout Japan over a forty-year period, as did hymns and other forms of Christian music.
At academies established by the Jesuits in Azuchi (present-day Azuchi-cho in Omi-Hachiman city, Shiga prefecture) and Arima (present-day Minami-Shimabara city, Nagasaki prefecture), music was taught together with Western thought, religion, philosophy, literature and art. These facilities, along with the churches of the time, would have echoed with the sound of local people playing organ music and singing in chorus. Powerful warrior Oda Nobunaga is said to have taken a deep interest in European instruments such as the clavichord and viola, savoring their exotic tone.
In 1582, four youths who studied at the academy in Arima travelled to Europe as envoys, impressing locals at their destinations with recitals performed on European instruments. After their return to Japan, they also performed for the potentate Toyotomi Hideyoshi, reportedly playing three encores.
After the strict suppression of Christianity began, however, people were no longer able to sing hymns in chorus. Worship came to be practiced in secret, through a distinctive style of oration stripped of musical rhythm and tone.
This exhibition showcases objects used in the practice of Christianity in Japan, as well as materials related to the music of Christian worship, illustrating how Christianity was embraced during in the Azuchi-Momoyama period.