The Protestant Missions — June 17, 2011 at 12:43 am

Persecution in Nagoya! Hired Soshi on a rampage against Christian Meetings.

Takie Okumura

Takie Okumura, was born in 1865 in Kōchi-prefecture, Japan. In his early 20s, he converted to Christianity and was baptized in 1888. Okumura attended Dōshisha University’s Theological Seminary in Kyoto as a special scholarship student. He met Rev. John T. Gulick, who was born on Kauaʻi, graduated from Punahou, and was a Darwinian evolutionist. Gulick supported Okumura spiritually and financially during his college years. After graduating from the Seminary, Okumura came to Honolulu in 1894. He started his missionary work under the Rev. Jiro Okabe at the Japanese Christian Church of Honolulu (currently the Nu’uanu Congregational Church on the Pali Highway). A year later, Okumura took over as pastor of the Nu’uanu Church.

Mention has been made of Nagoya as a city where Buddhism possessed much strength, and where its followers exerted themselves to oppose Christianity. Several incidents occurring in 1893 showed the bitterness of their hatred. In May the meeting of the Japanese Evangelical Alliance was held in that city. It was at that time the custom among politicians to hire a class of men called soshi, who not only protected their employers from assault, but also did their best to break up the meetings of the other party. The Buddhists of Nagoya now resorted to similar methods. To a large public meeting of the Alliance held in the evening they sent a company of about forty soshi, who divided into two bands, one remaining outside of the Methodist Church where the meeting was held, and the other entering the building. Soon they began an antiphonal chorus of yells, one group answering to the other. Ere long, stones and other missiles were thrown. In anticipation of trouble several policemen, some of them in citizen’s clothing, were in attendance, but found it difficult to restore order. Some of those that were without uniforms had their clothes torn and they themselves were wounded. The Alliance had planned to invite the officials, teachers, and prominent citizens of the city to a social gathering; but the Buddhists went to the proprietor of the building that had been engaged for the purpose and threatened to tear it down if he permitted it to be used. The same course was pursued with the proprietor of another building where the Christian ladies of Nagoya had arranged a reception for the delegates. In both cases the owners withdrew their consent for the meetings.

In October a new chapel was dedicated by the Methodists of Nagoya. At an evangelical service that followed, the Buddhists, who had come in large numbers, rose at a given signal, smashed all the lamps, scattering the oil over the worshipers, tore the clock from the wall, and broke the windows. The Methodists had also rented a house for a chapel in another part of the city. The Buddhists went to the owner and protested against his letting the building for such a purpose. As he insisted that the clause of the Constitution insuring religious liberty gave him the right to let his house to Christians, a meeting was held in a temple to which he was called in order that he might be assailed with arguments and threats. Next, a building opposite the one in question was secured for an indignation meeting.

Soshi were sent with clubs to invade the man’s house, and he was forced to flee for refuge to some friends in the country. The Buddhists then induced the wife’s family to say that they would compel her to leave him unless he repented. They at last accomplished what they desired; for when the man came with tears to the missionaries, threw down the money already paid, and begged to be released from the contract, it did not seem best to insist on holding him to his former promise.

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