The Protestant Missions — June 9, 2011 at 1:03 am

Dr. Joseph Neesima, the very head of Christianity in Japan dies!


Joseph Hardy Neesima The Christian Church in Japan, and especially the Kumi-ai body, met with a great loss in the death, January 23, 1890, of Dr. Joseph Neesima. He had been in Tokyo and vicinity trying to interest influential men in his plans for a Christian university, when severe illness led him to seek rest at the seaside resort of Oiso. There he died at the age of forty-seven. His death made a profound impression, not only on those that had been closely associated with him, but also upon many who, though having no sympathy with his religion, recognized that he had been a man of the noblest principles, who had in many ways brought great good to his country.

When his body reached Kyoto, the students of the Doshisha insisted that they alone should bear it to his former home and afterwards to the grave which they had dug with their own hands. This meant much in Japan, where such offices for the dead are left to the very lowest classes. Among the banners that according to Japanese custom were carried in the funeral procession, was one inscribed “From the Buddhists of Osaka,” thus testifying to the respect in which Dr. Neesima was held by those that disagreed with him. This courteous act offset to a great extent the refusal of the priests of a temple in Kyoto to allow him to be buried beside his father in their cemetery, because he was “the very head of Christianity in Japan.”

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