Chapter 1: Introduction
Although Europeans colonised many Asian countries between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, Japan miraculously avoided European colonisation, so to speak, and maintained its traditional culture. The first contact with the Europeans occurred when Portuguese missionaries arrived in Chipangu (Japan) in 1543. Europeans at that time were interested in this island particularly because merchant travellers such as Marco Polo depicted Japan as a symbol of richness. The European missionaries also imagined, in the wake of the Reformation, that as first movers they could seek to develop Catholicism in Japan because it was not known as a territory targeted by other religions such as Islam or Judaism. In 1549, the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier arrived in Kagoshima, a southern part of Japan, and was authorised by the Daimyo (feudal lord) to be engaged in missionary work and to communicate European culture to the local people. The missionaries stayed in Japan not only to propagate religion; they also became advisors to the Daimyo and his subordinate for military and commercial issues. The trade between Spain/Portugal and Japan during this period was called nanban boeki. The Europeans imported Western medicine, founded a hospital where the first surgery in Japan was undertaken, and established the first orphanage in the country. One of the characteristics of nanban boeki was that it was closely related to the spread of Christianity. Through the missionaries, Japan added European and Christian cultures to its own, which had already incorporated Confucian and Buddhist cultures.