Japan was originally a country of Shintoism and Animism.
In 538 A.D.,
Buddhism came through China and Korea, and also Confucianism. Since
then all of the religions have been mixed and coexisted in Japanese
In 1549, Catholic
priest came to Japan to evangelize. The Japanese feudal government of
that time really was afraid of Christianity. Therefore, they not only
prohibited the evangelism but also made Japan to be a closed country.
So from the beginning of the 17th century, to the middle of the 19th
century, Japan was a closed country without having any connection
with the other countries only except for few countries.
During that time,
the government established a parishioner system, which means every
Japanese home should be registered with the local Buddist temple, and
they had to offer a donation regularly to the temple, and all the
funeral services should be done in Buddhist way. This closed
condition continued almost 300 years. That custom is still
deep-rooted today in the society, and the Christians have had a hard
time to break from this old custom.
In 1853, American
general, Mr. Perry, came to Japan and asked to start the trade with
the US. And in 1859, the first protestant missionaries, Mr. Hebon and
Mr. Brown, came to Japan and opened the way for evangelism through
the protestant faith. So the history of the protestantism is only
150 years in Japan. The first missionaries established the good
mission-schools. (Unfortunately, however, those schools gradually
fell into liberal theology.)
In 1872, the first protestant church was established in Yokohama. But at first, they evangelized to the people who had a background of Samurai family, that is, they were rather intellectuals. Therefore, it is said that Japanese Christians are mostly white-colours, or middle and upper-middle class people even today. The evangelism of that time was done mostly in big cities, and evangelism did not penetrate into the rural areas.