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Essays on the Modern Japanese Church
Christianity in Meiji Japan
by Yamaji Aizan, translated by Graham Squires, University of Newcastle, Australia, with an introductory essay by A. Hamish Ion, Royal Military College of Canada

Essays represents much more than a history of Meiji Protestantism . . . it takes on the status of an intellectual history of the Meiji period per se. Squires and Ion are to be congratulated on providing more ready access to some fascinating source material.”
Mark Williams in The Journal of Asisn Studies  

“A provocative, delightfully fresh look at the Meiji years from the perspective of that small, brilliant, wholly engaged group of intellectuals who called themselves Christian. It is a must read for those who want to understand the vicissitudes of the Christian church in that tumultuous time.”
James L. Huffman in Japanese Religions

Essays on the Modern Japanese Church (Gendai Nihon kyo€kai shiron), by Yamaji Aizan, published in 1906, was the first Japanese-language history of Christianity in the Meiji period. A firsthand account of the role Christianity played in the social, political, and intellectual life of Meiji Japan, Essays describes the reintroduction of Christianity to Japan—its development, rapid expansion, and decline. Yamaji’s overall argument is that Christianity played a crucial role in shaping the growth of modern Japan.

Yamaji was a strong opponent of the government-sponsored “emperor-system ideology,” and through his historical writing he tried to show how Japan had a tradition of tolerance and openness at a time when government-sponsored intellectuals were arguing for greater conformity and submissiveness to the state on the basis of Japanese “national character.”

Essays is important not only in terms of religious history but also because it highlights broad trends in the history of Meiji Japan. Introductory chapters explore the significance of the work in terms of the life and thought of its author and its influence on subsequent interpretations of Meiji Christianity.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 27
Published 1999, 204 pp.
ISBN 0 939512 93 9, hardback, £22.00