Christian Daimyo(feudal lord)Takayama Ukon

Takayama Ukon was so devoted to the Christian faith that he renounced his status as a daimyo. Here we introduce various places dotted around Takatsuki that are associated with him.

建物イメージ 高山右近イメージ
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    "Taiheiki Eiyuden Takayama Ukon" Shiroato History Museum in Takatsuki.

    The load of Takatsuki Castle, Takayama Ukon has Many Talents.

    Ukon was received into Christianity in 1564 at the age of twelve. Under his father’s guidance, he was baptized in Sawa Castle in what is now Nara prefecture. He was given the Christian name Justo. In 1573, at around the age of 21, he became the lord of Takatsuki Castle. He carried out building works in the area around his castle and built more than twenty churches. The population in the town then was about 25,000. It is said that more than 70% were Christians. Ukon served feudal rulers including Nobunaga Oda and Hideyoshi Toyotomi. He converted other samurai such as Kanbei Kuroda and Ujisato Gamo.
    Ukon was a highly skilled samurai warrior. In 1582, in the battle of Yamazaki, he fought successfully against Mitsuhide Akechi, taking the vanguard in Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s army. In 1590, he fought for Toshiie Maeda in the attack against the Hojo clan in Odawara. Ukon is also renowned for his excellence in castle-building, being involved in the design of Takaoka and Kanazawa castles. He was an accomplished man of culture. In Japanese tea ceremony, he is listed as one of the seven disciples of Sen no Rikyu, the celebrated grandmaster of tea ceremony.

  • >Stone monument of Takayama Ukon Takatsuki <i>Tenshu</i> Church. Wooden rosary was excavated at christian cemetery near this place.

    Stone monument of Takayama Ukon Takatsuki Tenshu Church. Wooden rosary was excavated at christian cemetery near this place.

    Due to the ban of Christianity, Ukon was expelled overseas.

    In 1587, Hideyoshi Toyotomi , the then de facto ruler of Japan, decreed that Christian missionaries should be expelled. In 1613, The Tokugawa Shogunate outlawed Christianity. However, Ukon Takayama did not abandon his faith or succumb to such religious oppression. He relinquished his wealth and position as daimyo (feudal lord) and stayed steadfast to his belief. His devotion strongly moved and impressed people far and wide. Pope Sixtus V sent a letter in his praise. After Hideyoshi’s decree, Ukon went to Kanazawa, the capital of Kaga province, whose ruler Toshiie Maeda took Ukon under his protection. Ukon built himself a house there but when Christianity was banned, he was forced into exile overseas. He sailed from Nagasaki to Manila in the Philippines, where he arrived safely but shortly died of disease in 1615.

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    Beatification 400 years after his death

    Despite persecution, Ukon remained true to his faith throughout his life. In 2016, the year after the four hundredth anniversary of his death, he was beatified by the Vatican as a Catholic martyr.

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    Takatsuki city twinned with Manila through the Ukon Connection

    In 1979, Takatsuki city and Manila became sister cities thanks to the ties forged through Ukon. A statue of Ukon stands in Plaza Dilao, a square near the area associated with Ukon in Manila.

Places associated with Takayama Ukon
in Takatsuki city

  • ①Site of Higashi Otemon Gate, Takatsuki Castle

    Location of the most important outermost main entrance to Takatsuki Castle as it was in the Edo Era. The daimyo paraded through this gate to get to the old Saigoku Kaido (main western route) when he had to go to Edo (Tokyo) or Kyoto on official business.

  • ②Shiroato Park

    Park built on the ruins of the castle, where Ukon’s bronze statue stands. The stone walls and moat conjure up the image of the old castle.

  • ③Shiroato History Museum

    This museum of history stands in a corner of the what was the outer rim of the old castle. On display are documents, models and other exhibits relating to Takatsuki in the Edo Era as well as the rosary and reference materials about Ukon.

    Opening Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (Last entry 16:30)
    Closed: Mondays except for public holidays; the museum closes on days following a public holiday as well as the end of year/New Year period (Dec 28 to Jan 3)
    Admission fee: Free (Charges may apply for some special exhibitions)

  • ④Site of Takayama Ukon Takatsuki Tenshu Church

    Site of the Catholic Church and theological school Ukon and his father Tomoteru Takayama built in 1574. This was the first center of Christian evangelism. A Christian cemetery has also been found here.

  • ⑤Takatsuki Catholic Church

    The present Takatsuki Catholic Church was built in 1962, modeled on the cathedral outside Manila, where Ukon spent his last days. Set in its forecourt is a statue of Ukon made of Italian marble, presented to the church by the Claretians (congregation of missionary priests).

The other places associated with Takayama Ukon

Takayama Ukon lived a dramatic life as a Christian daimyo in a country that was beset by war. There are many places throughout Japan that are associated with him, not just in Takatsuki city: Toyono in Osaka Prefecture, the town known as his birthplace; Uda City in Nara Prefecture, where he was baptized as a Christian; Shodoshima and Kanazawa where he moved after renouncing his status as a daimyo; and Manila in the Philippines, where he went after his exile from Japan. Imagine yourself following in his footsteps through these places - you can vividly picture the path of trial and tribulation that Ukon trod.

  • 1.Toyono town, Osaka

    In 1552, Ukon was born in Takayama (Toyono-cho) in Settsu> province.

  • 2.Uda city, Nara

    In 1564, at the age of 12, he was baptized in Sawa Castle, where his father resided as lord. His baptismal name was Justo.

  • 3.Takatsuki city, Osaka

    In 1573, after his victory over Korenaga Wada, Ukon became the lord of Takatsuki Castle at the age of 21. As feudal lord, he ruled his land successfully for the next 12 years.

  • 4.Akashi city, Hyogo

    In 1585, his fief was transferred to Akashi in Harima province and he went to reside in Funage Castle.

  • 5.Shodo-shima island, Kagawa

    In 1587, Hideyoshi Toyotomi ordered the expulsion of Christian missionaries. Ukon was stripped of his daimyo (feudal lord) status. With the help of another Christian daimyo, Yukinaga Konishi, he went to hide on the island of Shodo-shima.

  • 6.Kanazawa city, Ishikawa

    In 1588, he became a protege of Toshiie Maeda and moved to Kanazawa, Kaga province.

  • 7.Takaoka city, Toyama

    In 1609, Takaoka Castle was built by Toshinaga Maeda. It is said to have been designed by Ukon.

  • 8.Manila City, Philippines

    In 1613, the Tokugawa Government banned Christianity. Ukon and his family left Japan from Nagasaki to go to Manila in the Philippines. The following year, he died of a tropical fever.

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