Tensho Ken-o Shonen Shisetsu (天正遣欧少年使節)

Tensho Ken-o Shonen Shisetsu was a mission of four boys and others dispatched to Rome in 1582, acting for Yoshishige OTOMO, Sumitada OMURA, and Harunobu ARIMA, who were the Christian feudal lords in Kyushu. This mission was suggested by the Jesuit, Alessandro Valignano. They returned to Japan in 1590. The mission made the existence of Japan known among the European people and Japanese documents were printed for the first time with a printing press that Johannes Gutenberg brought back (this is called Jesuit printing).


Valignano explained the purpose of the mission in his own letter as follows:

First, to ask the Pope and both kings in Spain and Portugal for financial and spiritual support for missionaries to Japan.

Second, have the Japanese see, hear, and experience the Christian world in Europe so that the boys could tell of its glory and greatness after returning to Japan, which would be useful for propagation.

Members of the mission

The mission boys were selected among students learning at seminario (seminary).

The mission
Mancio ITO (senior commander), acting for Yoshishige OTOMO. A blood relative of Sorin OTOMO. The grandson of Yoshisuke ITO, Governor of Hyuga Province. Ordained to the priesthood in later years. Died in Nagasaki in 1612.

Miguel CHIJIWA (senior commander), acting for Sumitada OMURA. The nephew of Sumitada and cousin of Harunobu. Apostatize later.

Juliao NAKAURA (vice commander), ordained to the priesthood in later years. Martyred by hanging in the hole in Nagasaki in 1633.

Martinho HARA (vice commander), ordained to the priesthood in later years. Died in Macau, to where he was expelled, in 1629.

Accompanying personnel
Monk Jorge De Loyola, tutor of the mission, Japanese
Constantino Dourado, to learn printing technology, Japanese boy
Augustino, to learn printing technology, Japanese boy
Father Alessandro Valignano, intended to follow to Rome, but remained in the State of Goa due to his duties.

Father Nuno Rodrigues, took over Valignano and followed the mission.

Father Diogo Mesquita, interpreter, Jesuit
Father Lorenzo Mesia
Monk Oliviero

Chronological table of related matters

March 2, 1582 - Departed Nagasaki Port.

March 19, 1582 - Reached Macau. Waited for wind.

December 20, 1583 - Reached the State of Goa via Malacca and Cochin.

August 10, 1584 - Reached Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Igreja de Sao Roque was their dormitory. Invited to the palace of Cardinal Albert of Austria (the son of Maria de Habsburgo, a younger sister of Felipe the second [King of Spain] and Maximilian II [Holy Roman Emperor]) in Sintra in the suburbs of Lisbon.

November 25, 1584 - Entertained by Felipe the second, King of Spain, in Madrid, the capital of Spain.

March 7, 1585 - Reached Florence. Participated in a ball held by the Medici family.

March 1, 1585 - Had an audience with Gregorio XIII (Pope) in Rome. Given citizenship of Rome.

May 1, 1585 - Attended the coronation of Sixtus V (Pope) who had taken over from Gregorio XIII.

June 3, 1585 - Departed Rome. Visited cities such as Venice, Verona, Milan, and others after that.

April 13, 1586 - Departed Lisbon. Started his homeward journey.

May 30, 1587 - Reached Goa, India. Met Valignano again. Martinho HARA made a speech at collegio (college established by the Jesuits). Moreover, Sumitada OMURA died in Nagasaki in the same month.

June 1587 - Sorin OTOMO died in Bungo Province.

July 1587 - Edict expelling Jesuit missionaries was issued by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI.

July 21, 1590 - The mission returned to Japan. Returned to Nagasaki Port.

February 1, 1591 - Played Western music (pieces of Josquin des Pres) in the presence of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI at Jurakudai residence.

Western products brought back by the mission

Letterpress printing machine
Western musical instruments
Nautical charts

Monuments and others

The statue of all four people

Omura City, Nagasaki Prefecture: 'Statue of Tensho Ken-o Shonen Shisetsu' (built in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the mission's departure in 1982)

Mancio ITO

Yuho-koen Park, Oita City, Oita Prefecture: 'Statue of Ito Mancio' (the work by Sculptor Seibo KITAMURA)

Martinho HARA