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S19 Ep5

A Samurai in the Vatican

Premiere: 11/17/2021 | 00:00:32 | Closed Captioning Icon

In 1613, feudal lord Date Masamune sent a Japanese diplomatic mission to Europe to negotiate with the Pope and the King of Spain in hopes opening a new trade route. Led by samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga and Franciscan monk Luis Sotelo, the expedition spent seven years traveling one-third of the globe.

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About the Episode

In 1613, feudal lord Date Masamune sent a Japanese diplomatic mission to Europe to negotiate with the Pope and the King of Spain in hopes opening a new trade route. Led by samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga and Franciscan monk Luis Sotelo, the expedition spent seven years traveling one-third of the globe. Discover the fate and legacy of these men caught up in the first stages of globalization and facing religious and political tensions.

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TRANSCRIPT

♪♪♪ [ Bell tolling, birds chirping ] -Coria del Río, an hour's drive outside the city of Seville in Spain.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -In this city of just 20,000 people, nearly 700 of its citizens share the last name Japón, Spanish for 'Japan.'

Why do they all have such an unusual surname, that of a country 13,000 miles to the west?

[ Suspenseful music plays ] To track down the answer to this question, one Spanish scholar traveled around the world and discovered a long forgotten, 17th-century chapter in global history... ♪♪♪ ...a Japanese diplomatic mission to Europe led by two starkly different men... ♪♪♪ ...a Spanish missionary and a samurai.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -'Secrets of the Dead' was made possible in part by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you.

Thank you.

♪♪♪ -September 15, 1613.

A ship leaves the eastern coast of Japan, sailing toward New Spain -- present-day Mexico.

♪♪♪ It's the start of an incredible journey.

The samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga and the Franciscan monk Luis Sotelo would travel half the globe, in hopes of establishing a diplomatic and commercial relationship between Spain and Japan.

It's an unlikely mission, made all the more so by how different the two men seemed to be, but they both had personal hopes that brought them to this point.

[ Bell clanging ] ♪♪♪ Four hundred years later, there are only a few traces of Hasekura's trip to the other side of the world, some in Europe, others in Japan.

♪♪♪ Jesús San Bernardino Coronil, a professor of Asian studies at the University of Seville, was a student when he first learned about the legend of the samurai who visited Western Europe.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] I had Juan Manuel Suárez Japón as professor of geography and he told us the story of the samurai who traveled up the Guadalquivir River.

I was completely surprised and stupefied.

I thought it was a fascinating story.

There are still a lot of unclear elements, lots of questions that researchers haven't answered.

There are documents that haven't been published, studied, translated.

There's a whole world left to discover.

-San Bernardino's first stop on his search to find out more about the Keicho mission, as it was known, was Seville's City Hall.

♪♪♪ -[Interpreter] I wanted to know who he was, this samurai Hasekura.

Why would a Franciscan monk accompany a samurai?

Who was this Lord Date Masamune?

What was their importance?

♪♪♪ -There, he found a letter in Japanese announcing the arrival of a group of Japanese diplomats led by the samurai Hasekura.

♪♪♪ -With the help of Professor Rafael Abad de los Santos, who reads 17th-century Japanese, San Bernardino deciphered the letter.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] The letter was sent to the city of Seville from Date Masamune, a very important Japanese lord.

What are the letter's goals?

There are two of them.

The first is that he wishes to have missionaries sent to Japan to help Christianity grow.

♪♪♪ The second goal is that he wishes to establish a direct route from Japan to Seville.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -Date Masamune came from a long line of feudal lords who ruled over the Tohoku region in Northern Japan.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -A legendary warrior and leader, he was a skilled power broker, following the family tradition of creating strategic partnerships and relationships.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] [ Gong crashes ] -Europeans first arrived in Japan in 1543 and established profitable trading ports in Hirado Funai, and Nagasaki on the southern island of Kyushu.

♪♪♪ The leaders of these districts grew rich, buying and selling silk the Spanish and Portuguese brought from China, along with Asian spices and goods made in the colony of New Spain.

And, for the Spanish, the Japanese had one particularly valuable resource -- silver.

Date Masamune was eager for his northern province, including the city of Sendai, to take part in this commercial activity, and his ambitions stretched beyond welcoming the Europeans to Japan.

In 1600, Date relocated to the Northeastern Coast, transforming what had been a small fishing village into the thriving and prosperous city which he would name Sendai.

In his palace at the top of a cliff, he could see the value of his new home's strategic location.

His region had a natural asset -- Sendai stood on the Pacific Ocean, at the edge of a current that traveled straight to the West Coast of New Spain.

Date began to consider whether he could send his own trading ships from Sendai to New Spain, without relying on the Europeans as intermediaries.

But Spain had exclusive control of trade across the Pacific.

To avoid conflict, he needed Spain's permission to make direct commercial contact with its colony.

At the end of the 16th century, Spain and Portugal were united under the banner of the king of Spain, Philip III.

The Iberian Empire was immense, covering portions of Italy, colonial territories in the Americas... ♪♪♪ ...as well as Western Africa... ♪♪♪ ...and parts of India.

♪♪♪ 'You can circle the world without ever leaving Philip's lands,' wrote the poet Lope de Vega, at the time.

♪♪♪ But, for Date, trade with New Spain was just one piece of a larger plan.

His ultimate goal was to unite the provinces of Japan and become its shogun.

♪♪♪ Date hoped that Hasekura and Sotelo would serve as useful tools in establishing a partnership with Spain.

♪♪♪ Wanting to find out more about the mission, San Bernardino traveled to Sendai.

♪♪♪ [ Horn blaring ] ♪♪♪ Unlike the united Spanish empire, Japan was deeply divided until the start of the 17th century.

The country's dozens of regional lords spent their time making war and vying for power.

One of these lords, Tokugawa Ieyasu, rose above his enemies and became the country's first shogun.

And he supported efforts to make Sendai an international port.

The pieces of Date's plan were falling into place.

♪♪♪ Today, a large statue of Date sits between the remains of his Aoba Castle and the Sendai City Museum.

♪♪♪ The museum has a number of items related to both Date and Hasekura -- armor, portraits, and accounts of Hasekura's life.

♪♪♪ Toru Sasaki is the museum's curator.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -He, too, has studied Hasekura Tsunenaga's story.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -[Interpreter] As for Hasekura Tsunenaga, before the departure of the Keicho mission to Europe, what we currently know is that Date Masamune was dispatched to the Korean Peninsula... ...and Hasekura accompanied Date for a war.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -[Interpreter] The functions he had were, for example, collecting information or, on behalf of Date, acting as a messenger.

That was his role.

♪♪♪ Hasekura Tsunenaga was born in 1571, to a family of samurais that had fought on behalf of the Date clan for several generations.

♪♪♪ But in 1612, his father was charged with corruption and sentenced to death.

It was his duty to commit -- ritual suicide -- according to the honor code of the samurai.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Squelch ] ♪♪♪ The family's property was confiscated and Hasekura was stripped of his responsibilities as a samurai.

♪♪♪ It was a shameful incident for the family, bringing great dishonor.

♪♪♪ As was custom, Hasekura should have ended his own life as well, but Date offered him an alternative.

♪♪♪ -[ Conversing in Japanese ] -If Hasekura would sail halfway around the world and secure trade rights from the Spanish, Date would restore honor to the Hasekura clan, return its property, and allow him to serve as a samurai again.

♪♪♪ It was a chance for Hasekura to redeem his family name and Date likely knew the former samurai would do whatever was asked.

♪♪♪ As eager as Hasekura may have been, Date understood that, if the mission had any hope of success, the samurai would need help with the language and navigating an extremely foreign culture.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Father Luis Sotelo arrived in Japan in 1603, speaking Japanese fluently.

[ Creaking ] A Franciscan monk, he came from an important Spanish family and was highly ambitious.

-[ Conversing in Japanese ] ♪♪♪ Having barely arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun, he established a church in the shogun's capital -- Edo, present-day Tokyo.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Japanese ] ♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] For Luis Sotelo, it's a chance to accomplish one of his greatest dreams -- to convert Japan to Christianity.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] He believes that the efforts, so far, have not been sufficient, that the Jesuits could do more, and he thinks that Franciscans could do better and that he could succeed where others have failed.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -Christianity in Japan was viewed with suspicion.

It was a potential threat to the ruling class, but it also offered unknown opportunities.

-I think, with the arrival of the Christian missionaries, they brought a whole set of new possibilities for the Japanese.

And, remember, we're in warring-states Japan, so you've got lots of different feudal lords, all vying against one another, all trying to get ahead.

And the Christian missionaries, together with the traders, bring the possibility of trade.

They bring the possibility of intellectual and artistic exchange.

They bring the possibility of guns and of weapons.

-Almost as soon as they arrived in 1549, Christian missionaries in Japan faced difficult and often dangerous circumstances.

-It was an immense challenge to the early missionaries -- 'How do we preach the Christian faith in a way that's intelligible and understandable and convincing to a culture which is so different from our own, from European culture?'

-Some Christians went so far as to destroy Japanese temples.

In return, the country's highest leader decided to make an example of those involved.

On February 5, 1597, 26 Christians were tortured and paraded through the city before being crucified on the Tateyama hilltop near Nagasaki.

-Japan was suddenly seen as an incredibly dangerous place to go as a missionary and, if you step foot in Japan, as a missionary, you're facing almost certain death.

♪♪♪ -The church Sotelo established in Edo was destroyed in 1612.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -He was arrested and imprisoned, along with other missionaries.

♪♪♪ [indistinct]? -And, like he did with Hasekura, Date offered Sotelo an alternative to prison -- would he consider accompanying a samurai on a voyage halfway around the world, in hopes of signing a trade treaty?

♪♪♪ As an incentive, Date told Sotelo he would support Catholicism in his territory.

♪♪♪ Date likely believed that, in addition to financial prosperity, if he had the support of Japan's growing Catholic population, he might then also have a large enough base to become the country's leader.

♪♪♪ And it was a chance for Sotelo to further his own ambitious plans to become bishop of Japan.

♪♪♪ Date Masamune, the lord who dreamt of being shogun.

Luis Sotelo, the Franciscan missionary who wanted to become bishop of Japan.

Hasekura Tsunenaga, the samurai who longed to restore his family's honor.

These three characters' fates and ambitions were bound.

But they faced an immediate challenge.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] At that time, the Japanese didn't have great enough maritime and naval knowledge.

♪♪♪ That's why they needed foreigners -- mostly Dutch or Spanish -- to guide them and help them for building and navigating... ♪♪♪ ...and that was the case in the building of the ship that would be called the ♪♪♪ -Modeled on the Spanish galleon, the Construction took 45 days and required 800 shipwrights, 700 smiths, and laborers.

In 1993, a group of Japanese citizens built a full-size replica of the ship to mark Hasekura's incredible journey.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -[Interpreter] Here it is -- this is the ♪♪♪ It is an old style of galleon ship.

♪♪♪ That is Hasekura's flag on the mast.

The other, with the Rising Sun on it, is Date's.

There's a portrait of Hasekura Tsunenaga in Rome and it has a little ship on his right side.

That is all we had, so we referred to this picture to make the ship.

♪♪♪ -The sailed away from the Japanese coast with 180 passengers onboard -- Japanese merchants, Franciscans, crew members, and warriors.

The captain set the course east.

As Hasekura and his countrymen looked out at the immense ocean, could they comprehend the distance they would travel?

After three long months at sea, the set sights on the coast of Mexico.

[ Chorale plays ] ♪♪♪ Docking in the Bay of Acapulco on January 28, 1614, the group immediately set off for Mexico City, the seat of the viceroy appointed by King Philip III.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ [ Bell tolling ] ♪♪♪ The delegation's members found a growing city, very different from those of Japan.

At the time, Spain's colonial cities followed a plaza and grid system of organization decreed by the crown.

Beatriz Palazuelos Mazars has sought out traces of the delegation at the sites it visited.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] This is the old convent of San Francisco, which was the colony's biggest at the time.

-[Interpreter] It was the biggest in Mexico.

-[Interpreter] In the city of Mexico.

-[Interpreter] I think that it's the ideal place to welcome people, like those in Hasekura's delegation.

That was a very practical solution for the viceroy because he could perfectly control the delegation, if all the Japanese were locked up here in San Francisco's monastery.

It was very safe for him.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -In the center of Mexico City, the Franz Mayer Museum has some objects that were brought over from Asia on the galleons of the period.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] It's marvelous.

-[Interpreter] Though made of bamboo, it's still very heavy.

-[Interpreter] Can you imagine how much it weighed with all the clothes inside?

♪♪♪ -While some silver items were produced exclusively for the empire's Catholic citizens, Spain exported most of the valuable silver to China.

♪♪♪ In exchange for the silver, China offered the Europeans cloth -- satin, velvet, fine embroidery; and, especially, silk, flowery or plain, decorated with golden and silver flowers.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] It represents the first globalization, with things coming from China and then going to Manila.

And not just China, since there are goods from Japan and we have spices from the Maluku Islands.

Soon, the slaves will arrive as the Portuguese bring them from Manila and they reach Acapulco and New Spain.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] It's really globalization.

♪♪♪ -Because of its strategic location halfway between Asia and Europe, New Spain served as a commercial hub, growing rich as a link for the Atlantic and the Pacific.

♪♪♪ The Japanese delegation settled into its temporary home in Mexico City, as they prepared for their first important meeting.

They requested an audience with the viceroy, Diego Fernández de Córdoba, hoping he might grant them the right to trade directly with New Spain.

♪♪♪ De Córdoba did allow the merchants who accompanied Hasekura to sell the goods they'd brought with them on the voyage.

-[ Speaking Japanese ] -But he avoided the question of Japan having an independent trade relationship with New Spain.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] One of the concerns he may have had, as the viceroy of New Spain and at the court of Spain, in general, and throughout the Iberian empire, is that, if they had agreed to the Japanese request, the Japanese would have then learned how to sail the course.

But, until then, only Spanish navigators knew how to do this and, if the Japanese spoke of the route, the Dutch and English could also learn the secret.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] If the secret is lost, not only would the economy be endangered, but Spanish territory itself would be at risk because the British might attack California or New Spain and conquer those lands.

♪♪♪ -But meeting with New Spain's viceroy was just a formality.

Only King Philip III could permit Japan to trade directly with New Spain.

♪♪♪ While Hasekura and Sotelo sailed for Europe, a number of the Japanese merchants remained in Mexico.

♪♪♪ Hasekura, Sotelo, and about 30 other Japanese began the long march across the volcanic and desert terrain to Veracruz, where another ship was waiting to take them to Spain.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ As they were crossing the sea, Hasekura and Sotelo were doubtless unaware that, in Japan, the shogun had issued a decree forbidding Christianity.

-- -Date Masamune declared he would continue to protect missionaries in his territory up north, but it was unclear how long that would last.

♪♪♪ At the same time, the viceroy secretly sent a letter to King Philip in Spain, hoping to maintain the colony's monopoly on Pacific trade in Asia.

♪♪♪ [ Horse neighs ] Correspondence between New Spain's viceroy and his distant king can be found in the Archives of the Indies in Seville.

♪♪♪ That's where, amid hundreds of other documents, San Bernardino was able to read Diego Fernández de Córdoba's warning to the Spanish court.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] 'For Father Luis Sotelo to continue his mission, not much happened at this time.'

-[Interpreter] 'May his energy and daring carry him, for he travels to Castillo and Rome with a chimerical delegation and requests monks for Japan.'

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] The viceroy sees Sotelo as a man on a small seat, which means that he considers his reasoning poorly founded or defended.

That's why the king sees him as a sort of...utopian.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] In truth, it's very interesting what was happening.

While Sotelo and Hasekura were working so hard towards their goal, there were people working to make the delegation fail.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -October 5, 1614.

After two months crossing the Atlantic, the galleon laid anchor at the mouth of the Guadalquivir.

♪♪♪ Hasekura, Sotelo, and the rest of the delegation sailed up the river toward Seville, aboard two ships.

♪♪♪ Led by the Moors from 711 to 1492, and then reconquered by Christians, at the time of Hasekura's visit, Seville was one of the most important and powerful cities in Europe, its prosperity a direct result of trade with the Americas and Asia.

♪♪♪ The Japanese ambassador was received with pomp, as a state guest.

Noblemen and merchants showed him the city's monuments and he stayed in the king's own room at Real Alcázar, the royal palace.

♪♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] ♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] It was six days of dinners, comedies, dances, parties.

♪♪♪ We know, from accounts, that Hasekura was very moved and grateful in every way.

♪♪♪ He didn't know how to show his thanks for the reception, which was such an honor.

Something like that would never have happened for him in Japan... ♪♪♪ ...because he wasn't daimyo.

He was just a simple samurai.

[ Bells tolling ] [ Birds chirping ] [ Chorale plays ] -One can only imagine the sense of culture shock Hasekura likely experienced upon arriving in Seville.

♪♪♪ The city's cathedral was elaborately decorated with gold and silver symbols of Christianity, which must have seemed very strange to the samurai.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] The missionaries working in Japan since the 16th century had understood that the image of Christ suffering was not welcomed by the Japanese... ...because it seemed inconceivable and horrible to them to show an image of a god suffering like this... ...a fate reserved only for criminals... -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] ...a form of punishment for bad people.

It seemed absolutely incompatible with a god.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -[ Vocalizing ] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -With the promise of conversion and the global spread of Catholicism, Sotelo may have felt that the mission depended on the samurai embracing Christianity, despite the clash of cultures.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ November 1614.

♪♪♪ The party left for Madrid, where they would meet with King Philip and his court, in hopes of securing the king's approval of a trade agreement.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ A month later, the samurai and the Franciscan reached the Spanish capital.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ There, the two men met an Italian writer, Scipione Amati, who would chronicle the delegation's journey.

♪♪♪ 'On January 30th in the year of our Lord 1615, the ambassador and Father Sotelo arrived with their group in the royal room, where the ambassador put on some exquisite clothes that are only used for formal occasions.'

♪♪♪ According to Amati's written account, Hasekura gave King Philip III a letter.

San Bernardino found the letter in the archives of the Spanish monarchy at the Simancas Castle.

And, in it, San Bernardino read about an important decision Hasekura made during his travel -- to become a Catholic.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] This is the letter sent by the ambassador Hasekura to Philip III -- -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] 'The honor of being received by Your Majesty is such that it leaves me as happy as a dark place upon which light has been shed.'

-[Interpreter] 'Light has been shed.'

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] ''Light has been shed.'

It's the light of His Catholic Majesty, the light of faith.

He is shown as a dark man who has been enlightened, through the king and the christening, and who is transformed.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] Hasekura requests the presence of the king at his christening.

-There is speculation about Hasekura's motivations and intentions, with some scholars doubting his sincerity.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] Hasekura wasn't as invested in the christening, most likely, as in the king's presence.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] It's the formal aspect, the solemnity, that really justifies his mission.

-Hasekura's request to be christened likely improved Sotelo's image and demonstrated to the royal court that there Japanese wishing to practice Catholicism, providing additional incentive to have a strong relationship with the country.

[ Chorale plays ] Philip III answered the Japanese ambassador.

-'We are pleased by your request to become Christian and we are most pleased that the holy sacraments be celebrated in our presence.'

[indistinct] ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ -At his baptism, he took on a new name.

Hasekura Tsunenaga would henceforth be called Felipe Francisco Hasekura.

♪♪♪ It symbolized a stark change from all that he had ever known -- his culture and identity.

♪♪♪ Did Hasekura's conversion have any influence on Philip and his decision regarding trade?

A great deal was at stake for Spain.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -An agreement with Japan would increase the amount of silver Spain was able to import and sell.

It was a key resource, becoming more difficult to find in New Spain.

But the additional trade would also benefit New Spain substantially, raising concerns that its prosperity would lead to cries for independence.

[ ] [ ] ♪♪♪ The king of Spain avoided giving the diplomatic mission a definitive answer.

Instead, he passed the responsibility on to someone else.

♪♪♪ If the Pope agreed, Philip would then allow Japan to trade directly with New Spain.

♪♪♪ Hasekura and Sotelo would have to travel on to Rome, to meet the Pope at the Vatican.

♪♪♪ August 22, 1615.

Almost two years after their departure from Japan, Hasekura and Sotelo left Madrid for Barcelona, where three boats were waiting to take them to Italy.

♪♪♪ At the Vatican, the delegation was once again well-received and given a reception reserved for the most important dignitaries.

♪♪♪ Amati, the Italian chronicler, described the scene.

♪♪♪ 'The lords and ladies of Rome were standing by the windows bearing luxurious carpets.

Fifty horsemen arrived with their captains, behind whom were the delegation members on horseback.

Then came the ambassador Don Felipe Francisco Hasekura, with his Swiss guard alongside him.'

♪♪♪ The grand reception may have eased worries Hasekura might have had after the king of Spain left his requests unanswered.

♪♪♪ From now on, the delegation's fate would depend on the sovereign pontiff.

♪♪♪ Today, two places in Rome bear witness to the visit from Hasekura Tsunenaga and Luis Sotelo.

♪♪♪ The first is in the Quirinal Palace, once the home of the pontiff and, now, the residence of the president of the Republic of Italy.

♪♪♪ Pope Paul V received visitors here and painters captured the delegation's image on the palace walls in fresco.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] I like this image, especially because it shows a sort of complicity between the two, with Hasekura listening very carefully to what Sotelo is saying.

They're whispering, talking quietly, thinking about their strategy, how best to go about their goal with the embassy.

It's like a snapshot of the moment for the embassy, where things seem to be going very well, clearly.

♪♪♪ -The arrival of the Japanese delegation was well-known throughout Rome and the Vatican.

♪♪♪ The Vatican City archives also hold evidence of the visit -- the two letters Date Masamune gave the samurai, who, in turn, gave them to the Pope.

♪♪♪ There is one letter in Latin, and one in Japanese.

In both, Date Masamune declared his total submission to the Pope.

-[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] This is Date Masamune's sign?

-[Interpreter] Yes, Date's seal.

-[Interpreter] And this, do you think these are gold pieces?

-[Interpreter] Yes, it's paper that has gold particles.

But also, particles of silver.

[ Conversing in Italian ] So, it starts here.

-[Interpreter] Here.

-[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] Date Masamune acknowledges the universal holy spirit across the entire world and, thus, in the first part, he says that he wishes to embrace and welcome Christianity.

-[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] He also asks someone to be named a bishop, so as to establish a diocese on his territory.

-[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] To Sendai?

-[Interpreter] And the trade reason is not explicitly put forth, but we can sense it.

♪♪♪ -Christianity remained very unpopular.

Would Date Masamune really be able to protect members of the faith?

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] The first anti-Christian edict was drafted in 1589... -[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] though the missionaries continued to preach their faith.

-[ Speaking Italian ] -[Interpreter] Then in 1613, a severe persecution began... ♪♪♪ ...of which news from Japan reached both the Spanish kingdom and His Holiness in the Vatican.

♪♪♪ But I think the Pope was determined to maintain a cautious attitude.

♪♪♪ -A few days after the meeting, Paul V named Luis Sotelo Japan's second bishop.

But, much like Philip in Spain, the Pope avoided making a decision on the trade deal, insisting that it was Spain that must approve Sotelo's appointment and any business agreements.

♪♪♪ The Franciscan monk understood he was no closer to accomplishing his mission.

♪♪♪ At the start of 1616, the two men had no choice but to return to Spain, in hopes of seeing Philip again.

♪♪♪ While Sotelo and Hasekura traveled back across Europe, the king of Spain received a letter from the Vatican, recommending the monarch not meet the two foreign diplomats a second time.

♪♪♪ And, in Japan, Spain was now facing stiff competition for the sale of foreign goods.

While Hasekura and Sotelo were away, Spain's enemy, the Dutch, opened their own trading outpost in Hirado, near Nagasaki.

It would later be moved to Dejima Island, where its remains can still be seen today.

♪♪♪ Unlike the Spanish and Portuguese, the Dutch were only interested in commercial trade.

Converting Japanese citizens to Christianity was of no interest.

They agreed to all of the Japanese trade stipulations -- surveillance, inspections, and prohibition of religious worship.

The Dutch were easy partners and won the support of the shogun.

♪♪♪ Hasekura and his Japanese companions stayed at a monastery near Coria del Río, while Sotelo arranged passage for the group on a ship leaving Spain.

♪♪♪ -But, refusing to give up, the two men concocted a scheme that would allow them to stay in Europe for a longer period of time.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] They ended up thinking of a theatrical illness, with Hasekura complaining of fever and Luis Sotelo seemingly breaking a leg.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] Sotelo knew that, in Spain, he still had a chance to influence the king and the court.

But, he knew that, once he'd climbed on that boat, all chances would be lost.

[ Door creaking ] ♪♪♪ -By faking injury and illness, key members of the delegation were able to remain in Spain, and still hoped they might accomplish their goals.

♪♪♪ The galleon that was supposed to carry them back across the Atlantic left without the two men.

♪♪♪ In the spring of 1616, the monk and the samurai received a last letter from Philip III.

It was a final refusal.

There would be no trade agreement, nor a new bishop for Japan.

Hasekura and Sotelo had failed in their mission and would have to make their way back to Asia.

[ Bell clanging ] ♪♪♪ But not all of the delegation's members returned to the Land of the Rising Sun.

♪♪♪ The citizens of Coria del Río have always been curious about why some members of the community have the last name Japón.

♪♪♪ The city's archives may hold the key to understanding more about the origins of the curious surname.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] What exactly is this document we're about to see?

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] This document is the christening register.

The parish has kept these registers here since 1548 and this is where we see the last name Japón recorded for the first time, specifically, the entry for a baptized girl, Catalina.

Catalina, daughter of Martín, Martín Japón.

-Many of the people in Coria del Río with the family name Japón feel a connection to Hasekura and his delegation.

♪♪♪ -But are the Japón of Coria del Río descendants of Hasekura's companions?

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -- -Angel Luis Schlatter Navarro took on the enormous task of checking the civil files in all the city halls and churches of the region.

-[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] I did various calculations and have seen lots of documents.

For me, an approximate estimate is that there were six Japanese members of the delegation who stayed in Seville.

These Japanese stayed in Spain because they were very young and, when they arrived and saw everything that was happening here -- Remember that Seville wasn't a political capital, but the economic capital of Spain and the New World -- the New York of its time.

It was like a panorama opening before them.

Thinking of their little village, they must've thought, 'Look, my village is here.

I'm going to make my life here.'

-Four hundred years after this delegation, nearly 700 inhabitants of Coria del Río still carry the memory of its visit and the name Japón.

It's one of the legacies of Hasekura's journey.

♪♪♪ 1617.

The return trip seems to meander.

♪♪♪ Having crossed the Atlantic to New Spain, Hasekura and Sotelo cross the Pacific and reach the Philippines in April of 1618.

♪♪♪ After two years there, the samurai finally set foot on Japanese soil and had to face the failure of his mission.

♪♪♪ His journey had lasted seven years.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Did Date Masamune understand, from his samurai's account, that he needed to give up on his plans?

♪♪♪ Did he decide to ally himself with the new shogun?

♪♪♪ Shortly after Hasekura's return, Date outlawed Christianity.

♪♪♪ Missionaries were to leave the region, Christians had to renounce their faith, and he promised a reward for anyone who would tell of hidden Christians.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ Hasekura died roughly 2 years after his return in obscure conditions... ♪♪♪ ...leaving one important question unanswered -- was his conversion to Christianity sincere?

Had the samurai truly embraced the predominant European religion?

♪♪♪ The Sendai City Museum holds several clues, items that were all confiscated from Hasekura's home by Date Masamune's guards -- a simple cross, a crucifix, a rosary, and a few other belongings.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] Had he not been Catholic, the first thing he would've done would've been to hide these documents that could lead him to being hung or lead him to his death.

♪♪♪ -Historians also know that roughly 20 years later, Hasekura's son was accused of being Christian and ultimately excicuted for failing to turn in his Christian servants who were also tortured and killed.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] And the fact that he converted his own family to Christianity, with all the risk that implied for them, shows that Hasekura's transformation was complete and sincere, from the heart, a true interior transformation.

♪♪♪ -1623.

Despite being forbidden from returning to Japan, Luis Sotelo disguised himself as a merchant and boarded a Chinese boat in Manila that was bound for Japan.

♪♪♪ But he was discovered and imprisoned.

♪♪♪ Several months later, the monk was pulled from his captivity and bound to a post, alongside other Franciscan, Jesuit, and Dominican priests.

He would be burned alive.

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ From 1639 on, Japan cut off its relations with the West and would remain isolated from the world for the next 200 years.

♪♪♪ Only the powerful Dutch East India Company maintained trade relations with the country, while also developing trade routes throughout Asia.

♪♪♪ China benefited from this reorganization and grew very rich.

But the Iberian Peninsula's trade in Asia quickly declined and Spain's empire would crumble, ending in 1640.

♪♪♪ -[ Speaking Spanish ] -[Interpreter] I don't think that the Spanish missed the boat on globalization.

On the contrary, I think that they fought for it.

The fact of fighting to prevent the opening of a new front, make it into the Pacific front, to keep the Dutch and British from attacking the Spanish territories on the Pacific, is exactly what allowed Spain to keep its American territories.

They were preserved for three centuries, to such a point that the Spanish language and Spanish civilization thrived there.

And that's why there's now a Hispanic civilization and that Spanish is the second most spoken indigenous language in the world.

♪♪♪ They didn't lose globalization.

They won it.

♪♪♪ -Hasekura stood on the cusp of the modern world, attempting to bridge the East and West.

♪♪♪ His voyage brought together trade, religion, and culture, allowing for a global exchange of people and ideas.

♪♪♪ His fate provides a human face to the beginnings of globalization that would give rise to the interconnected and international world we know today.

♪♪♪

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