In a small park in down town Manila, there is an unfamiliar statue of a man dressed in a seemingly Asian costume. It is the statue of Justo Ukon Takayama, who was baptized at the age of 12 and managed to survive under several samurai masters, but was finally exiled by the Tokugawa Shogunate to the Philippines in 1614 at the time of Christian persecution in Japan. He kept his Christian faith and died there soon afterwards at the age of 64.
When I first went to the park to see the statue in 2004 under the scorching afternoon sun, I was drawn by the inscription nearby, “Leader of the first group of Japanese Christian nobles who were exiled to the Philippines in 1614 when Japan prohibited Christianity. More than 100 members of Japan’s noble families ……. were warmly received in Manila by friendly Filipinos with whom they lived under a common bond of Christian brotherhood. The Japanese Christians remained in the Philippines until they were in time absorbed into the Filipino populace. “
Incidentally, the place where the Takayama statue is located happened to be the first Japanese district in Manila.
The statue of Takayama,
an abandon railway station
stands in the background.