The Protestant Missions — October 9, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Visit of general William Booth, founder of the salvation Army in 1907 to Japan



General Booth’s name was already well know to the reading public. Placards bearing his portrait and advertising his meetings were posted in all cities to be visited by him, so that his name was in everybody’s mouth. The Japanese who are hero worshipers, were eager to see a person so famous. As one Christian paper said: “No other person in private life ever visited this country who was so enthusiastically received by the Japanese people as general Booth. His public meetings everywhere were crowded to overflowing. Official receptions were tendered to him in most of the cities. I n Tokyo he was granted an audience with the Emperor and allowed to wear his salvation uniform. He remained for a month in Japan. For a while the newspapers abounded with reports and comments that as a rule were commendatory. One daily said that Christianity was the thing about which people were most desirous to be told, and in order to meet this popular demand it gave considerable space in its columns to passages from the Bible!

A Writer in the Taiyo, the most popular of Japanese monthly magazines said the following concerning the visit of general Booth and the International conference of the World’s Student Christian federation: “From all we can see how earnest the believers are in the spread of Christianity, and how strong they desire to make Japan a Christian nation in the near future. Their efforts have been heartily welcomed by the people and its not unnatural that they think that no such opportunity for evangelism will again present itself. Supposing that these movements should be successful, our Empire will be changed into a Christian country, our unique history extending over a period of over 2500 years will be trampled upon, and the spirit of Japan will be destroyed. Not only is the Christian spirit not sufficient to lead the new generation, but it will make the people weak and hypocritical, and will destroy their character. Pay no attention to the hypocritical words of the Christians and listen not to their hymns. Long live the non-Christian spirit! Long live the spirit of the world, of the flesh, of self-confidence, of determination, and of patriotism!”

Taiyo: A Japanese magazine published from 1895 to 1928 and especially known for its literary criticism, Japanese literature, and translations of Western authors.

Although Taiyō treated various practical, intellectual, and aesthetic subjects, its literary editors Takayama Chogyū (1871–1902) and Hasegawa Tenkei (1876–1940) were especially instrumental in popularizing the literature of late Romanticism and naturalism, both from abroad (in translations of such writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Gustave Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, Mark Twain, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Leo Tolstoy) and at home (in such fiction writers as the naturalists Tokuda Shūsei, Tayama Katai, and Shimazaki Tōson). When naturalism faded, the magazine also faded in importance.

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