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In 1549 missionaries arrived in Japan, and so began an uneasy relationship between East and West. In the next 60 years, more than 300,000 Japanese converted to Christianity. But in 1614, a nationwide ban forced Christians underground as wave upon wave of persecution followed. These Hidden Christians, as they came to be called, were cut off from the church and from Bibles for the next 250 years.

During that time their faith became a blend of Catholicism, Shintoism, Buddhism, and animism, which, the author concludes, “is not as Christian as their name suggests.” Though not written from a Christian perspective, this fascinating historical study and travelogue of religious sites compels readers to ponder why Christianity hasn’t flourished in Japan. (Tuttle)

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