*Kyushu (kyew-shew). Southernmost island of the Japanese chain, where the Portuguese missionaries land. Their entry at the foot of the nation suggests an interesting geographic resonance with the importance of feet and faces in this text. The island’s coastal villages are places where Christianity survived, but the faith of the local people is not one that many Europeans would recognize as Christian. Only such an isolated area could support this life. Far removed from the seat of governmental and indigenous religious power, the villagers use their landscape to hide their religious activities.
Their faith is at once simple and complex—a mixture of native folk beliefs and Western Christianity that is the cause of death (and perhaps eternal life) for many villagers and their missionaries. This duality is also manifested in the landscape, as the bounty of the seacoast itself becomes the setting for their hand-to-mouth existence, and the presence of such an immensity of water gives way to many instances of dire thirst throughout the text.
The villages are also places of trust and betrayal. While the missionaries trust the peasants and are trusted by them, Kichijiro, one of the peasants closest to the missionaries, eventually betrays them. When the lone surviving Portuguese missionary is led to Nagasaki, Kichijiro remains with him throughout his captivity, attempting to explain and justify his actions as he begs for...
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