- vol.30, 2007-07
What was the beginning of the education of Western music in Japan? As numerous results of studies which many scholars have gained show, we may say that, the answer would be that the missionaries from the Society of Jesus came to Japan in the middle of 16^<th> century in order to preach Christianity and taught the Japanese converts how to sing great number of Gregorian chants and how to play various kinds of musical instruments, such as the previous-type of the viola and the organ. In fact, when we read historical materials written by those padres, it is not difficult to find the facts that 400 distant years ago, the Japanese at the time adored Western music quite, whether they loved the Christian ideas/doctrines or not, and also the high quality of musical education was provided in the educational, religious institutions (especially, the schools called seminario and collegio) which those Jesuit missionaries established, although people today tend to think that the flourish of the education of Western music emerged after the Meiji restoration. The first contact between the Japanese and the Westerners stretches back to 1543, when the Japanese old-type firearms was first brought to Japan by shipwrecked Portuguese merchants. Soon after that, their commercial contacts were developed into the Nan-ban trade, and this was soon followed by the missionary work towards the Japanese, since at that time, the Iberian countries enjoyed the great age of exploration with their economic and political ambitions. On the other hand, Japanese feudal lords, who were in pursuit of their own economic motives, were fairly attracted by the trade income as well. Thus, the Nan-ban trade and the expansion of the churches in Japan were inseparable for their financial reasons. However, the religious music appealed to inhabitants' hearts as a cultural aspect of Christianity. An Italian Padre, A. Valignano, who endeavoured to spread the Christian faith and religious education in Japan, attached a huge importance to this effective, spiritual exchange, in teaching at church-related schools. I shall examine his efforts and the outcome of such education of religious music in Japan, taking the following examples of seminario timetable and the despatch of Tensho boy-missions to Rome, 'Manvale ad Sacramenta' and 'uta-oratio', one of crypto-Christian's heritage, from various points of view ; political, social and cultural backgrounds in Japan in this essay.