Christian Organizations

Image:A representative of the New York Bible Society distributing bibles and religious literature to the emigrants at Ellis Island, New York City 
Source: Work is Public Domain, image is from Library of Congress  

While in New York City, the Iwakura Mission visited the American Bible Society and the YMCA. The Bible Society was an organization that advocated the translation and distribution of the Christian Bible, and presented the delegation with Bibles written in Chinese. Kunitake Kume made note of the popularity of Christianty in America, especially as a tool for people to evaluate the moral character of themselves and others. For Kume and his fellow delegates, this aspect of Christiany, among others, was difficult for them to fully accept. Nevertheless, Kume could tell that Christianity was a positive influence on American civilization, acting as a unifying religion and compass for moral standards. In his writing, he compared the sincerity of the Christian practice to Confucianism and Buddhism, concluding that Christianity was perhaps more accessible to the everyday man. In 1873, the Meiji government lifted a ban on Christianity that had been in place since the sixteenth century, setting in motion Japan’s openness to other Western religions and practices.

Image:The YMCA New Building, Fourth Avenue and Twenty-Third Street, New York City  
Date:October 1869 
Source:Work is Public Domain, image is from Harper’s Weekly, October 1869

Kume, Kunitake. “A Record of New York City.” Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 97-101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

久米邦武. “第十九巻 新約克府ノ記” [Chapter. 19 A Record of New York City]. In “特命全権大使米欧回覧実記 第1編” [The Records of Iwakura Mission’s trip in Europe and America], 355-375.

Breen, John. “’Earnest desires’ The Iwakura embassy and Meiji religious policy”. Japan Forum, vol. 10, 1998.