Chijiwa Miguel (千々石ミゲル)

Miguel CHIJIWA (1569 - January 23, 1633?) was a Christian who was one of the senior envoy of Tensho Keno Shonen Shisetsu (the Tensho Boy Mission to Europe) who lived during the Azuchi Momoyama period to the early Edo period. Miguel was his Christian name. He was the son of Naokazu CHIJIWA, a feudal lord of Hizen Province. He was cousins with Harunobu ARIMA, and a niece of Sumitada OMURA. He later left Christianity.


Miguel CHIJIWA who was born to Naokazu CHIJIWA, was baptized in 1580, and entered Seminario (Seminary) and had been studying to become a priest. Alessandro Valignano (Valignano) who came to Japan as a Jesuit visitor, met with Sumitada OMURA, a Christian daimyo (Christian feudal lord), and in order to restore missionary work that was in financial difficulties, and to nurture Japanese priests which would take charge of the coming generation, he sought to dispatch an envoy representing Christian daimyo to Rome.

Therefore, Valignano marked out four boys who were studying at the Seminario (Seminary). Criteria for selecting the representatives were good looks, health that can withstand a long trip, and outstanding aptitude for foreign languages and studies. The two senior envoy were selected merely as substitutes for Christian daimyo (Christian feudal lord) who were related to them.
(Refer to the section on Tensho Keno Shonen Shisetsu for their trip to Europe.)

A year after their return to Japan in 1590, they had an audience with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in Jurakudai residence. Hideyoshi took a liking to them, and recommended that they become officers, but they all had declined. Later, he went to Noviciado in Amakusa in order to continue studying to become a priest, and went to collegio (college established by the Jesuits) to continue with his studies. On July 25, 1593, he joined the Society of Jesus with the other three members of the envoy.

He withdrew from the Society of Jesus by 1601, and referred to himself as Seizaemon. He later married, renounced his religion, and lived in Nagasaki, but faced many ordeals; Yoshiaki OTOMO and Harunobu ARIMA who were his cousins hated him, a retainer of Harunobu assaulted him, and he died broken-hearted. It is not known why Miguel renounced religion, but Martinho went to Nagasaki as a ward mayor of Japanese district of the Society of Jesus owing to his talent in Latin, and Mancio and Julian went to Macao to study Theology thoroughly. However, Miguel who was physically weak and not as industrious, was not given permission to study abroad, and it is conjectured that he renounced himself from the Society of Jesus as a result of his anger or jealousy toward this.

A graveyard which is thought to be of Seizaemon and his wife built by his son Genba, was found in 2003 (Kazuhisa OISHI announced it on February 28 of the same year) at Tarami-cho, Nishisonogi-gun, Nagasaki Prefecture (the present Isahaya City). Kaimyo (posthumous Buddhist name) is written as 'Honjuin Joan' and the date and year of his death as 'January 23, 1633' but it is not known whether if these are accurate.