The following story is a brief overview of the video presentation of Takayama Ukon, A Warrior of Faith. This story is based on the historic information about a samurai warrior by the same name who lived in Japan during the age of the wars, 1550-1612
Takayama Ukon, as a young boy of 13, was asked by his father to help find a way to meet a Catholic Priest from Portugal in order to discuss religion. Ukons father, Dario Takayama, expected to convert the Christian priest to Buddhism through their discussion.
The priest was glad to come. This was in the year 1563. The Portuguese ships had come to Japan fifteen years earlier for the first time ever. The Portuguese ships brought both Catholic priest and Portuguese guns as well as goods to trade.
The Samurai warriors were more interested in the guns.
The discuss between Dario Takayama and the foreign priest was long and energetic. Both tried hard to convince the other of his faith. But in the end, Dario Takayama was convinced the teaching from the Bible was better than his Buddhist doctrines. The whole family converted to Christianity.
| This was the age of the great feudal wars in Japan. Hundreds of castle lords, called Daimyo, fought each year trying to gain larger control for themselves. The Emperor and the Shogun [ the head of all Samurai warriors] were both kept hidden in the capital of Kyoto, because neither had the power or wealth to force anyone to obey them.
So the Takayamas also went to battle under their uncle and leader Wada Koremasa. They lived in Takatsuki, a small town not far from either Kyoto or Osaka. Though small in size Takatsuki and Wadas armies was in a very key location. Larger armies tried hard to take control of the Capital and Osaka for themselves.
Wadas intention was to join sides with which ever lead Daimyo general was able to reunite all Samurai to bring peace back to Japan. During this time a Daimyo general from the east, Oda Nobunaga did take the lead. Wada and Takayama assisted Oda Nobunaga to become the new Shogun over all of central Japan.
As a result Wada was given freedom and authority right in the heart of Japan. Under Wadas protection, Christians were now free to teach and build churches not only in Takatsuki but also Kyoto and Osaka, the two largest cities in Japan at that time.
Young Takayama Ukon was being trained not only in military skills, but also in Biblical teaching and the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony was a ceremony which allowed political leaders and samurai warriors from all sides to meet together. No weapons were ever allowed in the sacred rooms of the tea ceremony.
As a result of Takayamas skill he became well know and trusted by all Samurai and Daimyo generals. Warriors, Buddhist priests, and common people all began to convert to Christianity by the hundreds, and later thousands.
However, Japan was not peaceful. Wada was killed by his enemies after he had been wounded while defending the Shogun. The Takatsuki castle was given to Dario Takayama, who intern gave it over to his son Takayama Ukon.
Battling armies often switched sides trying to tip the balance and overthrow larger Daimyo generals. One of the armies to the north of Takatsuki turned against the Shogun Oda Nobunaga hoping to get other castle lords to follow in the betrayal. Oda Nobunagas armies surrounded Takatsuki, to force Takayama Ukon to keep the gate way to the Capital of Kyoto open.
Takayamas were caught between the two armies. They wanted to follow Shogun Oda Nobunaga, yet they had previously given Ukons sister to the family in the north as a pledge of loyalty with them as well.
Ukons ability to follow a higher calling and demonstrate his courage and wisdom is shown here. Rather than fighting Nobunaga and losing the lives of all in Takatsuki, or turning against the northern armies of the Araki family and lose the life of his sister, he offered his own life to be the sole sacrifice and peace maker. Takayama Ukon shaved his head and dressed as a Buddhist priest, which was a sign of retirement from both warfare and political activity in his day. He alone went into the Shoguns troops to give himself as a ransom.
Shogun Oda Nobunaga was so impressed, he accepted Ukons request to save Takatsuki and promoted Ukon to a lead position on his own side. Takayamas sister was also saved. Christianity spread rapidly.
Peace however did not last long in this age. Shogun Oda Nobunaga himself was killed and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of his generals became the new Shogun and became many times more powerful than any Shogun before him. He was determined to see all of Japan bow under his lordship. Anyone who did not bow was destroyed.
He allowed the Christians to continue to spread their teachings and he left Takayama Ukon in his place a Daimyo general, but only as long as it was useful to the Shogun himself.
In one day, Shogun Hideyoshi changed his attitude completely. He was denied the right to add a young maid to his list of available wives on the grounds that she was a Christian. Then on the same day a captain of a foreign ship, that had been captured, demanded his ship be returned to him. The foreign sailor threatened the Shogun, if did not return his ship, the nation of Portugal would send their navy to take over Japan. He boldly stated that, Wherever the priests go, the navy will follow.
Hideyoshi became furious and threaten to kill all Christians. Takayama Ukons castle was taken away from him. Some Christians and priest were arrested and crucified. Takayama Ukon was powerless to make peace this time. Ukons father, Dario, came to meet Ukon one last time, but died in Ukons arms. His days were finished and Ukon was alone to face the anger of the Shogun.
All of Takayamas efforts to make peace were useless. The times had changed and Christianity and all foreigners were seen as a threat to the absolute control the Shogun wanted over Japan. Anyone who did not step on a cross or an image of Jesus was tortured and killed. Takayama Ukon, however, was so well respected by both Christians and non-Christians that the Shogun chose to send him away along with any remaining Christian leaders to the Philippines on one of the last foreign ships.
Takayama Ukons fight was over. He gave no resistance, but instead sent a message to the Shogun saying, I will not fight with weapons or swords but with patience and faith according to the teachings of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Takayama became sick on the voyage and died the next year in the Philippines. He had already left his witness and mark in Japanese history. Though his life and message were rejected, the witness continues today, as a testimony on Gods Word available to all men of all nations who are wiling to turn their hearts to the sovereign God and His Son Jesus Christ.