Below is a presentation I offer for those interested. If interested, please reach out to me for details at wmussell(at)hotmail(dot)com.
The Path to Silence: Japan's Christian Century and Beyond
In 1543, a Chinese junk with Portuguese merchants aboard landed on the Japanese island of Tanegashima. At that moment, Japan went from a legend in Europe to a fact. By 1549, Fr. Francis Xavier reached Japan to begin missionary work there. He referred to the Japanese as the "best people yet discovered."
Over the next 65 years, the mission thrived. Despite sporadic expulsion edicts and persecutions, the Christian population rose to 300,000, making it the envy of the Far East.
But in 1614, the Japanese government issued a new edict aimed at eliminating the religion. Over the next three decades, tens of thousands of Christians were martyred, some in ways that would make being thrown to the lions seem merciful. Christians were hunted down and bounties paid to those who turned them in. The government drove the faithful underground...and these Christians 'disappeared' into history.
In only a century, Japan went from having no Christians, to becoming the jewel of missionary efforts, then became a land as forbidden as the Garden of Eden. I offer a presentation on this history. The title "The Path to Silence" is based off of the novel Silence by author Shusaku Endo, a novel which was made into a movie in December 2016.