Researchers have discovered that hundreds of Japanese Samurai may have been secret Christians who expressed their faith with codes hidden in their sword hilts, Daily Mail UK reports.

History suggests that not all Catholics left Japan and instead, created an underground religious network.

The Sawada Miki Kinenkan museum in Kanagawa Prefecture owns 367 sword guards, which were examined by Yuhiko Nakanishi, chairman of nonprofit group Nihon Token Hozon Kai (Japan Sword Preservation Association), and other researchers. The research took six months and the result showed that at least 48 sword guards were identified as belonging to Christians.

“A characteristic of sword guards made after anti-Christian measures were taken is that Christians carefully hid crosses in their designs,” he said. “We concluded the designs show the faith of hidden Christians.”

“It is extremely rare to find sword guards with hidden Christian symbols used after the adoption of anti-Christian policies,” a museum spokesman said. “The findings indicate that they kept their deep faith despite persecution.”

Catholic missionaries introduced the faith to Japan in the mid-1500s. Unfortunately, after 40 years, military ruler Hideyoshi Toyotomi implemented strict anti-Christian measures. He banned the religion, exiled European missionaries, and tortured and killed many Japanese Christians in 1596.

History suggests that not all Catholics left Japan and instead, created an underground religious network.

The symbols discovered by the researchers include carefully hidden Christian crosses, crucifixes, and other religious symbols in the samurai’s designs. They disguised these images to look like Buddhas, and changed their prayers to sound like Buddha chants.

“A characteristic of sword guards made after anti-Christian measures were taken is that Christians carefully hid crosses in their designs,” he said. “We concluded the designs show the faith of hidden Christians.”

Sources:
Dailymailcouk. (2017). Mail Online. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4083952/Hundreds-killer-Japanese-Samurai-secret-Christians-hid-religious-codes-sword-hilts.html

Ancient-originsnet. (2017). Ancient Origins. http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/sword-guards-confirm-samurai-warriors-secretly-followed-christianity-005952?nopaging=1

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Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest in reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@1cvm.com.
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