By | 10 janvier 2022

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Aiko Okamoto-MacPhail [1]
Indiana University

Abstract: The Tenshō Mission organized by Alessandro Valignano S. J. brought one or several books written by Luis de Granada translated into Japanese to Granada when they visited this Dominican friar in Lisbon. The purpose of my article is to examine, by comparing Latin, Spanish, Japanese, and some English and French editions, if the book of devotion most popularly called the Imitatio Christi, attributed to Thomas à Kempis and published in Japanese translation by the Jesuit Mission Press (1596) is not based on Luis de Granada’s Spanish translation of this book.
Keywords: The Tenshō Mission, Imitatio Christi, Contemptus mundi, Luis de Granada, Jean Gerson, Japan, Iberian Peninsula, 16th century

Titre : Réflexion sur les sources. Le Contemptus mundi au Japon, 1596
Résumé : La mission Tenshō organisée par Alessandro Valignano S. J. apporta un ou plusieurs livres écrits par Luis de Granada et traduits en japonais à Granada lui-même lors de leur visite à ce frère dominicain à Lisbonne. Cet article examine si le livre de dévotion Imitatio Christi, attribué à Thomas à Kempis et traduit en japonais par les Presses de la Mission jésuite (1596), n’est pas basé sur la traduction espagnole de ce livre par Luis de Granada, et ce en comparant les éditions latine, espagnole, japonaise et certaines éditions anglaises et françaises.
Mots-clés: Ambassade Tenshō, Imitatio Christi, Contemptus mundi, Luis de Granada, Jean Gerson, Japon, Péninsule ibérique, XVIe siècle

Título: Reflexiones sobre las fuentes. El Contemptus mundi en Japón en 1596
Resumen: La misión Tenshō organizada por Alessandro Valignano S. J. llevó uno o más libros escritos por Luis de Granada al propio autor Granada cuando visitaron a este fraile dominico en Lisboa. Este artículo examina si el libro devocional Imitatio Christi, atribuido a Thomas Kempis y cuya traducción al japonés fue publicada por la Imprenta de la Misión Jesuita en 1596, no está basado en la traducción al español de Luis de Granada, comparando las ediciones en latín, español, japonés y algunas ediciones en inglés y francés.
Palabras claves: Embajada Tenshō, Imitatio Christi, Contemptus mundi, Luis de Granada, Juan Gerson, Japón, Península ibérica, siglo XVI

To cite this article – Pour citer cet article : Okamoto-MacPhail, Aiko, 2022, «Musing on the sources Contemptus mundi in Japan 1596», Thematic issue L’ambassade Tenshō, entre croisements interculturels et entreprise médiatique, coord. by Michel Boeglin, Marie-P. Noël & Gérard Siary, CECIL – Cahiers d’études des cultures ibériques et latino-américaines, no 8 (2022),, posted on 2/01/2022, accessed on dd/mm yyyy, DOI:

Received – Reçu: 05/10/2019
Accepted – Accepté : 08/11/2021


  1. On the twentieth of February 1582 when the Tenshō Mission left Japan, Europe was no more than a story for many Japanese if they ever heard of it. For Europeans, too, Japan was a country of hearsay in Marco Polo’s travelogue if they ever read it. While bridging this wide space separating two regions ignorant of each other, the Tenshō Mission accomplished the more focused, precise task of bringing the Japanese translation of Luis de Granada’s work to the author himself. In the summer of 1584, four young Japanese arrived in Portugal. It had been two years and a half since they left Nagasaki on February 20, 1582. In the travelogue De missione legatorum japonensium ad Romanam curiam, one of the four Japanese engaged in the conversation tells us that they landed at Cascaes on the tenth of August 1584, and next day they entered Lisbon[2]. During their stay in Lisbon from August 11 to September 5, they went to pay homage to Luis de Granada with some of his work translated into Japanese[3]. Which book or books did they bring to this prolific Dominican writer? We will examine the possibility of the first edition of the Contemptus mundi published in 1596 by the Jesuit Mission Press as one of the candidate books. We divide our demonstration in two parts: first about the circumstantial evidence, and second the analysis of the text.
  2. We start with the marginalia in Charles Ralph Boxer’s personal copy of the now classic The Jesuit Mission Press in Japan 1591-1610, which reads as follows:

Fray Luis de Granada, Obras, Madrid 1788, tome VI, p. 481 begins: «Comienza el libro primero del Contemptus Mundi ó Menospriecio del Mundo, y Imitation de Christo». The quotation in chap. 1 from St John. Chap. VIII is «El que me sigue no anda en tinieblas, mas tendrá lumbre de vida», and the other is «No se harta el ojo de ver, ni la oreja de oir». This seems conclusive as to the use of his version in preparing the Japanese[4].

  1. Boxer’s argument is evident. According to him, in addition to the Latin edition of this famous book Contemptus mundi whose authorship is attributed to Thomas Kempis, the Japanese translators also used the Spanish translation by Luis de Granada entitled the Contemptus mundi ó Imitacion de Christo[5].

1. Brief history of the Imitatio Christi

  1. First we will briefly summarize the question of the authorship of the Contemptus mundi, better known today by the title of Imitatio Christi. The question of authorship arises in a way typical of the manuscript books copied by hand in the Middle Ages. The point of contention is whether or not the complete manuscript of all four Books of the Imitatio Christi autographed and signed by Thomas à Kempis and dated to 1441 can be a sufficient proof that he wrote it, or was Kempis merely a copyist of someone else’s work. This question arises, to my knowledge, already in Pierre Edouard Puyol’s book of 1898[6], and is still asked today. Jacques Huijben and Pierre Debongnie advance that the Imitatio Christi was not written from the beginning as one book but as four independent works, whose earliest manuscripts go back to the 1420s, and gradually the four books were assembled into one volume, whose final version was copied and signed by Kempis in 1441[7]. From L. M. J. Delaissé in 1956 to B. J. H Biggs in 1997, this historical outline of textual evolution is generally agreed upon[8]. More recently, Maximilian von Habsburg summarizes as follows. Kempis may be the final author who polished the style and assembled four books of the Imitatio in today’s shape, but his work is so deeply embedded in the working style of the devotio moderna, in which book copying was situated in rapiaria (spiritual note-taking) as daily exercises of meditation, that the text thus written kept evolving from the time of Gerard Groot (1340-1384) who inaugurated this movement to Kempis (c. 1380-1471) who laid down his pen with the Latin note at the end that says: finished[9].
  2. This book played an important role in the Renaissance Society of Jesus. Habsburg also informs us that Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises were printed in Latin in 1548 but not subsequently reprinted in large numbers because the book was exclusively reserved for the members of the Society of Jesus and should be in Latin. The first Spanish edition was published only in 1615[10]. On the other hand, the Imitatio, recommended for the second-week exercise for those who take the spiritual exercises with Loyola’s book[11], was open to non-Jesuits and was translated into multiple languages from early on. In other words, while keeping Loyola’s book The Spiritual Exercises exclusively for members who administered these exercises, the Society used the Imitatio for a large public to apply Loyola’s exercises through reading. Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises in Latin, and the Imitatio in Japanese translation were both published by the Jesuit Mission Press in Japan in the same year 1596, which proves that the Society’s policy was consistent in Japan and in Europe.

Circumstantial evidence that supports the use of Spanish Imitatio

  1. Now we come back to Boxer’s marginalia. The Japanese translation of the Imitatio Christi of 1596 announces at the beginning of the book that the Japanese Imitatio is translated from the Latin original. Boxer proposes Luis de Granada’s Spanish translation as another text that the translators consulted when working for their edition. His argument is based on two observations. First, Boxer talks about the reversed title words between the two elements of Contemptus mundi and Imitatio Christi in Japanese and Granada’s titles. The title Imitatio Christi is by far more popular today, but both the Japanese translation and Granada’s Spanish translation use the less familiar Contemptus mundi for the main title. The second point is about two citations from the Bible in chapter one of the Imitatio. Boxer sees that in chapter one the incomplete citation from John 8 is completed as a full citation both in Japanese and Granada’s versions, whereas in today’s Imitatio, this citation remains incomplete. On the other hand in the same chapter the Japanese translation of the citation from Paul’s first epistle to Corinthians 2, 9 is based on Granada’s Spanish version rather than the Latin Bible quoted in the Latin Imitatio. This priviledge granted to Granada’s Spanish translation over the Bible in the Imitatio made Boxer conclude that the translators in Japan used Granada’s Spanish translation of the Contemptus mundi and not the Latin original even though the Japanese text states that it is based on the Latin Imitatio.
  2. Notwithstanding Boxer’s conclusion, the second citation, from 1 Corinthians, poses some problems. There are two existing copies of the Japanese Contemptus mundi of 1596. One is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford University and the other is in Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. These two copies, both published in 1596, carry two different Latin texts for this second citation of the Bible in chapter one. The Bodleian copy quotes Latin from Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians 2, 9 while the Ambrosiana copy quotes Latin from Ecclesiastes 1, 8. This means that there are two different printings of the Japanese translation of the Contemptus mundi both published in 1596. Boxer, who worked with the Bodleian copy of the Contemptus mundi did not notice this quotation switch that occurred in Abrosiana copy of the Imitatio. As Japanese translation matches with the Ambrosiana Latin quotation, and Granada’s Spanish translation closely, Boxer and many Japanese researchers today propose that this second quotation in book one, chapter one is another proof that Japanese translators privileged Granada’s Spanish translation over the original Latin Imitatio[12]. To this second citation of chapter one, we will come back later.
  3. Boxer is not the only one who noticed the Spanish influence in the Japanese title of the Contemptus mundi published in 1596. Anesaki Masaharu, who transcribed the Japanese translation of Contemptus mundi of 1596 written in Roman alphabet, into Japanese characters, indicates that, even if the translation is made from Latin, at least the title follows the custom at the middle of the sixteenth century in Spain where this text was most often called the Contemptus mundi[13]. Shin’mura Izuru and Hīragi Gen’ichi also make a remark in their book of criticism published in 1957 that two sixteenth-century Spanish translations, one published in Toledo in 1523 and another translated by Luis de Granada and published in Seville in 1536, carry the title Contemptus mundi [14]. These Japanese critics think that the Spanish publications of Contemptus mundi in the sixteenth-century are possible sources of inspiration for the translators in Japan. In the most recent modern edition of the Contemptus mundi published in 2002, the editor Obara Satoru concurs with his predecessors[15].
  4. Jesuit writings offer circumstantial support for this hypothesis. When Melchior (Belchoir) Nunez Barreto, the vice-provincial of India of the Society of Jesus, left Goa for Japan with Luis Frois and Gaspar Vilela in April 1554, they carried the following books: Contemptus mundi, and «As obras de Tomás de Kempis» for Barreto; «Jersão» for Gaspar Vilela; and a certain «Deseoso grande» by Jerção for Luis Frois[16]. Matsuda Ki’ichi and Kawasaki Momota, who translated Frois’ History of Japan, annotate the letter written by Barreto from Goa that carries the date of the tenth of January 1558, and they explain that among the books that Barreto brought to Japan there are Gregorian chant, books by Plato and Aristotle, and three different versions of Contemptus mundi: «Contemptus Mundi», «As obras de Tomás de kempis», and «Jersão»[17]. The same note also tells us that Barreto brought about one hundred books to start the first Jesuit library in Japan[18]. These passages name three types of Contemptus mundi. The book entitled Contemptus mundi must refer to the Spanish translation from its title as explained above; the name Thomas à Kempis refers to the Latin edition of Contemptus mundi attributed to Kempis; and Jersão is Jean Gerson the Chancellor of the University of Paris, who was once thought to have written another Latin edition, though this claim of Gerson’s authorship is denied today[19].
  5. One strong proof against Gerson’s authorship is that Gerson’s brother did not list the Imitatio Christi among Gerson’s complete list of works. As this list was established during Gerson’s lifetime, it is thought to have been approved by Gerson himself[20]. Of the three Jesuits who sailed from Goa to Japan, Frois had some delays in his travel, but the other two, Barreto and Vilela, arrived in Japan in 1556[21]. This fact shows that in 1556, two Latin versions, one attributed to Thomas à Kempis and another to Jean Gerson, and also a Spanish translation entitled Contemptus mundi came to Japan.
  6. By far Luis de Granada was the single most translated author by the Jesuit Mission Press in Japan. The following titles of Granada’s books were published in Japanese: in 1591, volume two of the Introducción del símbolo de la fe with the Japanese title Sanctos no gosagueô no vchi nuqigaqi[22]; in 1592, volume five of the same Introducción del símbolo de la fe with the Japanese title Fides no dŏxi[23]; and in 1599, Granada’s Guia de pecadores[24]. As late as 1611, volume 1 of the Introducción del símbolo de la fe was translated and printed in Japanese characters with the title of Hidesu no kyō[25]. Besides these books by Granada of which printed copies exist today, a Christian text written by hand discovered in Japan in 1917 is identified as Granada’s Tratado de la oración y meditación, a book mentioned as published in Japan in the missionary report[26]. Boxer’s marginalia suggesting Granada’s influence on the Japanese translation of the Contemptus mundi is also based on his knowledge about this heavy usage of Granada’s works by the Society in Japan. Because of the dual use of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and the Imitatio practiced by the Society of Jesus in the Renaissance, it is plausible to assume that all members of the Society carried one copy of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises in Latin as well as copies of the Imitatio both in Latin and in various vernacular translations. This makes us speculate that they worked from multiple versions of the Imitatio in Latin and in Spanish.

2. Which book or books of Granada?

  1. Which book then did the Tenshō Mission show to Granada? From the point of view of publication dates, the Japanese translation brought to Europe can be either the Guia de Pecadores or the Contemptus mundi, while the Símbolo de la Fe is too late. The round trip between Europe and Japan took habitually two to three years. The Introducción del símbolo de la fe is Granada’s major work finished in 1582, published in 1583, and abridged in 1588. The Tenshō Mission that left Japan in 1582 could not offer a Japanese translation of a book that did not exist yet[27]. On the other hand, Granada’s first version of the Guia de Pecadores was published in Lisbon in 1556, and the completed version in Salamanca in 1567; and his Spanish translation of the Imitatio entitled Contemptus mundi first came out in 1536. Both the Guia de Pecadores and the Contemptus mundi could have been translated into Japanese by 1582. The Japanese Contemptus mundi was published first in 1596, then the abridged version in 1610, and the Guia de pecadore in 1599. From the point of view of the years and the number of editions, the Contemptus mundi is a likely candidate.
  2. There is also another strong circumstantial evidence that they carried the Japanese translation of the Contemptus mundi to Europe. In May 1585, during his audience with the Tenshō Mission, Pope Sixtus V granted an Indulgentia to the Japanese readers of the Contemptus mundi; for each chapter they read, the Pope accorded ten years of indulgence[28]. It is not known whether the Mission brought the Japanese translation to the Pope and received the Indulgentia, but it is more natural to think that they did. For, its translation seems to be complete by the beginning of the 1580s, presumably before the departure of the Tenshō Mission to Europe. Gonoi cites the Jesuit report for the year 1581, written by Gaspar Coelho in February 15, 1582, that the Japanese translation of the Contemptus mundi was used as a textbook at the Noviciado, Casa de Provação, of Usuki in Bungo inaugurated on December 24, 1580, along with the tratados written by Luis de Granada[29]. The Society used textbooks in manuscript copies at this stage and the aforementioned manuscript done by Barreto of Granada’s Tratados may have been one of the textbooks mentioned here. Based on these proofs, Gonoi thinks it possible that the Tenshō Mission that departed from Japan in February 1582 was carrying the Japanese translation of the Contemptus mundi to Europe[30]. Before Gonoi, Toyoshima Masayuki also suggested the possibility that Granada’s Spanish Contemptus mundi was used for the foundation text of Japanese translation[31].
  3. To prove the multiple speculations of researchers stated above, while the Tenshō Mission was still out of country, the Contemptus mundi was spreading beyond the Jesuit seminaries to a general readership. The European printing press that was brought to Japan with the return of the Tenshō Mission in 1590 was shipped out of the country under the proscription in 1614. So, in 1582, at the departure of the Mission, as mentioned before, the Japanese translations of the Contemptus mundi were circulating in manuscript. Frois reports in his History of Japan that Hosokawa Tamako (1563-1600), better known by her name of baptism Gratia, was reading Gerson in preparation for her conversion to Christianity[32]. The Contemptus mundi was the favorite book of this daughter of the ill-famed Akechi Mitsuhide who ambushed and killed Oda Nobunaga at Hon’nōji, and subsequently her husband Hosokawa Tadaoki (1563-1645) battled in Hideyoshi’s camp to avenge Nobunaga and kill her father.
  4. Gratia’s high level of education may have even allowed her to help the translation of Christian spiritual books from Latin into Japanese[33]. If she did, it is another contribution to Japanese canonical classics in which women writers composed the majority of masterpieces from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. By quoting Joseph Wicki, Obara proposes the names of two Japanese Jesuits, Yōhōken Paulo and Pedro Ramon known for their high quality of Japanese, as the translators of the Contemptus mundi of 1596 while ruling out the collaboration of Hara Martinho for chronological reasons[34]. In the Jesuit Church in Osaka, the region of the castle where Gratia lived, Toin Vicente was the Japanese preacher who, along with his father Yōhōken Paulo, translated many books into literate Japanese[35]. One of the books on which Gratia worked for the translation was a catechism[36]. There were two books of catechism published by the Society of Jesus for Japanese readers: the Catechismus christianae fidei written by Alessandro Valignano and published in Lisbon in 1586, and the Doctrina Christião written by Jorge Marcos and translated into Japanese in two editions in Japanese script in 1591 and 1600, and in Roman script in 1592 and 1600[37]. Gratia was baptized in 1587. Gratia could not attend every Sunday mass in a local church. So she had the habit of gathering her household ladies-in-waiting on Christian holidays and reading out loud some chapters from the Gerson or explaining catechisms that she translated[38]. It is an excellent way to polish the written style of the Japanese translations to recite them. Since Frois alternates the title more common in Spain, the Contemptus mundi, with the name of Gerson to designate this book she thus read[39], it also indicates the presence of both Gerson’s and the Spanish Imitatio in Gratia’s circle.
  5. This mixture of multiple copies of the Imitatio in Japan reflects the Society’s library in Europe. Already, in his book on the Imitatio Christi, Pierre-Edouard Puyol remarks that for Saint Ignatius and his circle, this book was known as the Gerson[40]. That the Society used Gerson’s Latin version of Imitatio Christi is proven by another account. In a note to Valignano’s Adiciones del Sumario de Japón, José Luis Alvarez-Taladriz writes that the Gerson was Loyola’s favorite book and he affectionately called it my small Gerson or Gerçonzito, and this book of Gerson was a classic in the refectory of the Society[41]. This predominance of Gerson’s Imitatio for Loyola and the Society corresponds to the situation in Italy and Spain before the middle of the sixteenth century, the period that concerns us in Japan. In the list of printed versions of the Imitatio Christi from the earliest extant publication to the mid-sixteenth century published by Habsburg, the overwhelming majority of presses in Italian and Spanish translations attributed the Imitatio to Gerson[42], whereas Latin editions show a mixed authorship of Gerson and Kempis[43]. Thus Barreto’s list of the Contemptus mundi in Japan reflects the two most frequent Latin attributions to Gerson and to Kempis along with Granada’s Spanish translation of the Imitatio indicated by the title of Contemptus mundi[44]. As the Japan mission of the Society of Jesus was largely staffed by Iberian Jesuits, the Spanish Imitatio with the Latin original that Barreto brought to Japan in 1556 reflects the reading experience of the Imitatio for the Jesuits in Europe that was carried over in Japan during this time period.
  6. The Society in Europe also used Granada’s Spanish translation. The holdings of the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, shows one Spanish translation of the Contemptus mundi done by Luis de Granada and published in 1555, whose sub-title reads «vn breue tractado de tres principales exercicios» indicating that this particular edition of Granada’s Contemptus mundi contained only the first three books[45]. The same bibliography also records that the previous owner of this book « possuidor(es)» was the «Companhia de Jesus». Besides the edition of 1555, the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal also catalogues Granada’s Contemptus mundi published in 1557 whose contributors list “Companhia de Jesus, Colégio de Campolide” in Lisbon[46]. In the Bibliothèque nationale de France, there is one copy of Granada’s Contemptus mundi published in Seville in 1609, with the Society’s mark of IHS stamped on the title page to show its previous ownership[47]. This Spanish translation contains the Christian calendar. The National Library of Portugal also indicates many copies of Guia de Pecadores whose previous owner was the Society, published around the time when Nunez Barreto and his company came to Japan. Again we come to the same conclusion that the names of Kempis, Gerson, and the title Contemptus mundi among one hundred books brought by Barreto reflect correctly the holdings in the Jesuit libraries and, more generally, the publication situation of the Contemptus mundi in Spain and especially in Portugal where Luis de Granada went to live in 1551, upon the invitation of Cardinal Henrique, in order to avoid the Spanish Inquisition[48]. These circumstantial evidences stongly support the use of Spanish translation of the Imitatio for its Japanese translation.

3. Analysis of the text

  1. In the following part, we will test Boxer’s idea with the textual analysis of the Imitatio Christi. Before starting, a precaution should be made. Due to the sheer number of printed editions of the Imitatio Christi, to pinpoint one source edition of the Japanese Contemptus mundi of 1596 is like looking for a needle in a haystack, especially if, as we speculated with the circumstantial evidence, many different Latin and vernacular editions of the Imitatio reached Japan and were cross-checked in the process of translation. Our goal is first to narrow the range of texts, and second to question the meaning of the Japanese translation invested in the rich, ongoing tradition of the Imitatio.
  2. We choose eight editions. For the Japanese translation, we use the Contemptus mundi, published in 1596 in roman letters, and transcribed into Japanese characters by Anesaki in 1976. More recent edition by Obara in 2002 will be touched upon only when it is necessary. Both Anesaki’s and Obara’s texts have the citations from the Bible preserved in Latin as in the original Japanese translation of 1596. To check the Latin citations, Anesaki used De Imitatione Christi libri quatuor, published in Paris by J. Valart in 1774. This edition is from a much later period than the time when the Imitatio was translated into Japanese from Latin. Obara mentions simply the Latin Vulgate used in the Vatican as his source text for Latin[49]. We use the fourth edition of the Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem published in 1994 that includes the integral edition of 1592 ordered by Pope Clement VIII. In order to cross check the Latin quotations in Japanese translation of 1596 and the Vulgate of 1592 with the Renaissance Imitatio, we choose the Latin edition of 1488 published in Venice whose authorship is attributed to Jean Gerson, another of 1489 published in Lyon attributed to Thomas à Kempis, and the edition of 1491 published in Paris attributed to Thomas à Kempis. These three Latin books represent two kinds of Imitatio Christi, one attributed to Gerson and the other to Kempis, published in the years before Barreto’s Japanese Jesuit library of 1556 and before Loyola wrote his Spiritual Exercises after his stay in Manresa in 1521. We compare these three Latin editions with Luis de Granada’s Spanish translation entitled the Contemptus mundi, o menosprecio del mundo, y imitacion de Christo in three editions: Evora 1555, Madrid 1800 (based on the Madrid edition of 1753[50]), and the first publication of Granada’s Spanish translation in 1536 in Seville, reedited in his complete works in 1998. We will include also one translation into French published in Toulouse in 1488. The location of this town, near the border between France and Spain, makes it a promising place for the use of a similar Latin text published in the Iberian Peninsula, presumably close to the one used for Granada’s Spanish translation.
  3. The above is the list of the editions that we are comparing: each edition has all four books of the Imitatio as it is known today.
  4. The last two English translations are used only for the comparison of chapter numbers in order to understand and explain one of the most frequent causes of the chapter variation in book three. The Latin and Spanish books have the same chapter numbers as the Japanese Contemptus mundi, whose title carries the word jenbu, which means the complete translation.
  5. Albert Ampe S. J. confirms that «nos éditions manuelles» of De Imitatione Christi are divided into four books, of which book one has 25 chapters, book two 12, book three 59, and book four 18[51]. This chapter numbering of what he calls the most common Imitatio at hand is adopted in most English editions of the Imitatio available today. So, I chose only the Penguin book above as the most representative popular edition to exemplify today’s chapter distribution. The modern standard text of the Imitatio has different chapter numbers than the ones that seem for us the standard of the complete edition in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as the list above shows. This difference only appears in book three.
  6. This difference in book three is mostly derived from the treatment of orations. The four books of Imitatio have a clear sequential structure from one book to the other. The first book is the examination of one’s sins, the second book an invitation to a withdrawal into an internal life of meditation, the third book a dialogue with God, and the fourth and final book urges the decision and preparation for entering an ordained life. In book three, each chapter begins with the word of God who starts «My son» to talk to the reader, and the reader answers «My Lord.» This conversation is interrupted by orations. The chapter number differences occur mostly by treating orations as independent chapters or incorporating them into existing chapters. The two English translations in the above list take two different approaches to the orations. Thomas Rogers divides book three into 65 chapters, splitting chapter six in two[52], yielding one chapter more than other editions of book three with 64 chapters. In the Penguin 1952 edition, book three has 59 chapters because the orations are included in the previous chapters in five places, and after chapter 27, book three became consistently five chapters less than the books with 64 chapters. These two editions exemplify why chapter numbers fluctuate in book three. The Japanese Imitatio follows the most common chapter breakdown of the Renaissance Imitatio, and from the chapter numbers alone we cannot conclude that the Japanese translators used Granada’s Spanish translation.
  7. After the comparison of chapter numbers in each Book, I use two strategies to see if each chapter has the identical or similar contents. First I compare chapter titles throughout the Imitatio Christi in the aforementioned eight editions, and secondly the Latin biblical quotations that Anesaki’s and Obara’s transcriptions keep in Latin in the Japanese translation. The purpose is to see if Granada’s Spanish influence can be seen in these two fields.
  8. Of the 119 chapters in the Imitatio (25+12+64+18), the Japanese translation has chapter titles identical, similar, or close enough to the ones in the European editions listed above. The 1488 French translation prints the first page of book three, chapter 30 twice in the copy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France due to a jammed printing[53]. Also its chapter title is an explanation, rather than a verbatim translation, that explains the meaning of this chapter. In order to make sure that the contents of book three, chapters 30 and 31 are identical in Japanese translation, in the following part I compare the whole text of both chapters in three Latin, three Spanish, and one French Imitatio. Before starting, we need to define the meaning of the term identical.
  9. The Japanese language has a very different linguistic structure than these four European languages of Latin, Spanish, French, and English. For this linguistic reason, a rigorous word-to-word translation as well as the preservation of the vocabularies that share a common ethymolotical root are not possible between these four European languages and Japanese. The syntax of a sentence should be switched from SVO to SOV, and the adjectives and any qualifiers, including relative clauses, are placed before nouns and nominal groups. The Japanese Imitatio of 1596 is rigorous enough that we can survey the sentence-by-sentence correspondence to the European editions. It is on the level of the sentence that the Japanese translation renders the Latin meaning. If the Japanese translators fail to convey one Latin sentence by one Japanese sentence, usually they catch up the meaning within two or three sentences. Whenever I use the term identical or similar, it is on the level of content, not on the level of signifier, and within the range of one to three sentences.
  10. Now we come back to book three, chapters 30 and 31. These two chapter titles in Japanese are extrapolations or explanations as in French chapter 30[54]. That is the reason to check these two chapter titles with their contents. Because of the extrapolated titles, we can confirm paradoxically that the Jesuits in the sixteenth century read the same texts as we do. The title of chapter 30, «De eminentia libere mentis[55]» or in Spanish «De la excelencia del anima libre[56]» is postponed to the first half of Japanese chapter 31 and translated as «anima no makoto no kutsurogi» meaning the soul relaxed in its true home[57], the term kutsurogi evoking homely comfort while sending its reader to a totally different sphere of other-worldly home. This chapter approaches the notion of the immortality of the soul.
  11. The Jesuits in Japan were shocked to learn that the Buddhists worship nothingness or and do not believe in the immortal soul; even worse, the Buddhists believe that man’s interior life is or empty[58]. On the other hand, the Imitatio corresponds to Buddhism in that this text of the devotio moderna teaches to despise the world. This fact corresponds to the Iberian preference of the title Contemptus mundi. The Japanese title of chapter 30 introduces first a Buddhist notion of «gense no hakanaki koto» that means the ephemeral nature of this world[59]. Corresponding to this title, the content of chapter 30 describes the futility and even adversity of nurturing man’s desires and seeking for worldly glory. Then this chapter invites the reader to liberate his mind for the sake of the other world. This freedom of mind from worldly events is translated with the notion familiar to Buddhism of an ephemeral world.
  12. On the other hand, the Japanese version postpones the part corresponding to the liberation of soul to the title of chapter 31 by adding it before the Latin title of chapter 31: «Quod privatus amor a summo bono maxime retardat[60]» and «Que el amor proprio estorba el bien eterno[61]» in Spanish, meaning how self-love delays eternal happiness. Before this meaning of Latin and Spanish titles of chapter 31, the Japanese title puts the first half of the title of chapter 30 «zen no samatage[62]» meaning literally that which prevents goodness. Then the last half of the Japanese chapter title 31 «kokoro no sōdō no motoi[63]» meaning the primary cause of disquieting man’s mind, refers to Latin and Spanish titles of chapter 31 «privatus amor» and «el amor proprio.» The Japanese translation is an approximation; the meaning is conveyed in Japanese as that which agitates man’s mind, but the term privatus amor is not literally translated. God’s love is translated as gotaisetsu in Japanese throughout the text. Because of this partial shuffling of the Japanese titles between chapters 30 and 31, with the struggle to find appropriate vocabulary to explain notions unfamiliar to Japanese, we understand that the Japanese translators are reading the same texts in Latin or Spanish or both together, and trying to explain the key Christian notions.
  13. Some Japanese chapter titles show an ingenious cultural transposition. Book one, chapter 20 has for Latin title «De amore solitudinis et silentij» in the editions of Venice 1488, Lyon 1489, and Paris 1491[64], and «Del amor de la soledad y silencio» in Granada’s Spanish translation of 1536 and 1555[65]. In this chapter title the word silentij is translated with the word mokuza that means sitting against the wall in Zen exercise of meditation, while living a secluded life is kankyo[66]. Echoing a familiar practice of Buddhism for Japanese, it has a remarkable cultural resonance to tell what one should do in Christian spiritual exercises by appealing to the familiar realm of Japanese religious life. Another example is in the title of chapter eleven of book three. In Latin, in all three versions, the title is «Quod spreto mundo dulce est seruire deo[67]», and Granada’s Spanish reads «Que despreciado el mundo, es muy dulce cosa server a Dios[68]». In Japanese the title becomes « [yo o] itoi Deus e tsukae tatematsuru wa ikanimo ookinaru go’on nari to iukoto[69]». In this passage, the first part « [yo o] itoi» that means to despise the world, becomes a way to return a service to God’s love in the second part. This second part is translated in Japanese by using the notion of go’on, a gratitude that the warrior bushi returns to his master for his protection. In these passages, Japanese translations show remarkable similarities with both Latin and Spanish passages while transposing them from Christianity to a secular realm of feudal Japan to make Japanese Christians understand what they should do.
  14. Yamamoto Hirobumi argues that Japanese Christian warriors drew equivalence between their devotion to God and their duty to their secular masters[70]. This equivalence between the secular and heavenly masters is also valid in Europe. In Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, the author urges the follower to imagine himself a knight standing in front of his king whom he seriously offended despite the fact that he received the king’s gifts and favors[71]. This Construction of Place is given as an additional directive at the end of the first week, and Loyola further urges to start the second week with the same imaginary analogy, of the «call of the temporal king as an aid toward contemplating the life of the eternal king», which he also calls a «parable of a temporal king[72]». With the chapter title that includes the familiar term go’on that indicates the loyalty of a warrior or bushi to his lord, the Japanese translation tries to introduce its reader to Loyola’s Composition of place. Japanese translators are explaining the contents of chapters 30 and 31 by using the Japanese cultural equivalence and by exploiting the similarities between European and Japanese feudal societies in which the service toward secular lords is the prerequisite of warriors who are knights in Europe and bushi in Japan. The comparison of chapters 30 and 31 in Japanese, Latin, Spanish, and French translations show that Japanese translators are reading the same chapters and revolving around the same notion of Christian devotion that they try to explain by analogy with the secular life. These features do not specifically prove the exclusive use of Granada’s Spanish Contemptus mundi while they certainly do not deny it.
  15. Now we start examining the Latin citations from the Bible. In Anesaki’s Japanese transcription of the Imitatio from the Bodleian copy, there are 27 citations from the Bible given both in Latin and in Japanese and distributed as follows: 7 in book one, 14 in book two, 4 in book three, and 2 in book four. The Jesuit Mission Press did not publish a translation of the Bible into Japanese. So these citations, in Latin first and in Japanese next, are one of the earliest translations of the Bible into Japanese even though they are fragmentary. Among these citations, we find the most interesting difference in the quotation from the Book of Job in book one, chapter 13. This chapter is entitled «De tentationibus resistendis» in Latin[73], «De resister aux temptacions» in French[74], and «Del resistir a las tentaciones» in Granada’s Spanish[75]. In Japanese it is translated as follows: «Tentasan to iu aku no susume o fusegu koto[76]» or to prevent the evil called temptation. The chapter title renders the same meaning with little variant of wording. With this identical chapter title in Latin, Spanish, French, and Japanese, we expect the same content.
  16. However, the quotation from Job 7, 1 in the same chapter shows an interesting variation. The quotation in the Latin editions of Venice 1488, Lyon 1489, and Paris 1491 is Tentatio est vita hominis super terram[77]. Granada’s Spanish is Tentación es la vida del hombre sobre la tierra[78]. French in Toulouse is La vie de l’homme sur la terre est temptacion[79]. So, they are identical. In Japanese text alone, this passage of the Bible first given in Latin shows a change as follows: Militia est vita hominis super terram[80]. Here the term tentatio is switched with militia. The Japanese translation renders this passage according to its Latin by using the word kassen for «militia» to make it hito no shōgai wa kassen nari[81] (Man’s life is a war in the world). From where does this quotation of the Bible come? It turns out that Latin and Spanish editions did not use the Vulgate of the Book of Job ordered by Pope Clement VIII, and published in 1592. For, this edition of the Vulgate gives us: «militia est vita hominis super terram[82]». Why is there this difference?
  17. William J. Farge S. J. writes that the Catechism of the Council of Trent, published in 1566, bound the Jesuit Mission Press tightly for respecting the «standard form for communicating Christian doctrine[83]» that is «officially sanctioned, precisely worded dogmatic or biblical statements[84].» On this passage from Job 7, 1, the citation is taken directly from the Vulgate translation of the Bible published in 1592. The Latin, Spanish, and French translations we are consulting all predate this Vulgate edition of the Bible acknowledged as standard by Clement VIII. This fact shows that Japanese translation consulted the Vulgate of 1592 whereas other editions including Granada’s Contemptus mundi took their quotation from an edition prior to the Vulgate of 1592. The quotation from Job 7, 1 in chapter 13 of book one offers a counter-proof to the notion that the Japanese translation used Granada’s Spanish translation.
  18. We will take two more examples. In chapter 21, book one, from Psalm 79, the Japanese citation «cibabis nos pane lachrimarum et potum dabis nobis in lachrimis in mensura[85]» is again loyal to the Vulgate of 1592[86]. On the other hand, Gerson’s Latin editions of Venice 1488, Lyon of 1489, and Paris 1491, have an extra word domine in Latin[87] and Granada translates this domine as Señor in Spanish[88], which is absent both from the Japanese and the Vulgate of 1592. The French Imitatio of Toulouse has also a call for God domine translated as O dieu[89] tacked in the sentence, like Spanish and Latin. The Latin, Granada’s Spanish, and French versions are identical. So, these books took it from the Bible before the Vulgate of 1592. Also, in Latin, Spanish, and French editions, it is the first person singular I who speaks to give me the bread of tears, while in Japanese and in the Vulgate Bible of 1592 it is the first person plural who begs to give it to us. In chapter 22, book one, there is another quotation from Psalm 24, 17 that confirms the Society’s priority of the Vulgate of 1592 in Japan over all other editions of the Imitatio. In Japanese and in the Vulgate of 1592, the quotation is identical again: «de necessitatibus meis erue me[90]». On the other hand, the Spanish and French translations are in the more exalting tone: «Líbrame, Señor, de mis necesidades[91]» by Granada, and «O Seigneur délivre-moi de mes nécessités[92]» in French of 1488. Also in Latin of Venice 1488, Lyon 1489, and Paris 1491, the word domine is added as follows. «De necessitatibus meis erue me dñe [domine][93]». These examples prove that, among the texts we are comparing, including Granada’s Spanish version, the Japanese translation is the only one that follows exactly the Vulgate of 1592.

4. Second citation of the Bible in chapter one

  1. Besides the above, there are some other citations that prove that the translators in Japan used Latin Imitatio. Two extant Japanese translations of the Bodleian Library and of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana show a large difference in the second quotation in chapter one, book one. The Latin quotation in the Bodleian copy is taken from Paul’s first epistle to Corinthians 2, 9, while Abrosiana copy quotes from Ecclesiastes 1, 8. Both Bodleian and Ambrosiana copies drew their quotations from the Vulgate of 1592 but from two different places. In both cases, the Japanese translation gives the identical sentence that reads as follows: manako wa miru kotoni akazu, mimi wa kiku koto wo motte tassezu[94]. The literal translation from Japanese would be «the eye is not satisfied by seeing, nor the ear filled by hearing». This quotation sends us to Ecclesiastes 1, 8 in the Vulgate of 1592[95]. In fact, all the texts studied above take the second quotation in chapter one, book one from Ecclesiastes 1, 8. The Ambrosiana copy has the right biblical reference. Why did only the Bodleian Library not get the correct passage?
  2. The Latin quotations of the Bible in the eight texts we examined above are mixed in the Latin text of the Imitatio without any quotation marks. Those who read the Imitatio should know the Bible very well in order to be able to detect the passage that the text is copying without warning from the edition of the Bible published before the Vulgate of 1592. The Japanese translators made a heroic effort to detect the correct passage in the Bible, and then matched it with the new Vulgate of 1592 in order to stay in line of the Papacy’s orthodox Vulgate. In this respect, Granada’s Spanish translation is no help. Granada’s Contemptus mundi of 1536 and 1555 translated in Spanish the passages from the Bible without quotation marks. In this pool of the Imitatio published in the fifteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the Japanese Contemptus mundi is singular in that it correctly detects the Latin passages of the Bible, matched them with the corresponding passages in the Vulgate of 1592, and copied them in the text in the original Latin followed by the Japanese translation. The Bodleian quotation from Paul’s first epistle is a missed attempt to locate the original Latin passage in the Vulgate of 1592, a mistake that the Ambrosiana copy corrected by locating the exact passage in Ecclesiastes 1, 8.
  3. This observation shows us that the translators in Japan used effectively the Latin Contemptus mundi published in Latin in the Iberian Peninsula where this Latin title is more common than the Imitatio Christi. If they did not work on this Latin original, the Japanese translators could not locate the identical or quasi-identical passages in the Vulgate. The new Vulgate of 1592 was published in Europe just four years before the Japanese publication of the Contemptus mundi. The Japanese Contemptus mundi of 1596 published the most up-to-date European Vulgate fresh off the press, and fresh out of the ship that carried this new Bible to Japan. The Jesuits in Japan stayed loyal to the instruction of Pope Clement VIII.


  1. We now conclude. From the titles and the Latin citations of the Bible, we cannot find definite proof that Granada’s Spanish is the source text rather than the Latin Imitatio. On the con­trary, on the level of the biblical citations, the Vul­gate was not only more im­portant than Gra­nada’s Spanish translation but also and espe­cially it was indis­pensable. From this perspective the first citation of chapter one, book one that caught Boxer’s attention is the only exception in which the Japanese translation adopts Granada’s full citation. Or is it an exception? Now we come back to the first quotation from the Imitatio with which we started. The following chart shows the first citation in chapter one, book one of the editions we compared, plus some early English translations of the Imitatio.
  2. All editions have «sed habebit lumen vite dicit dominus» in Latin[96], «mas tendrá lumbre de vida» in Spanish[97], «but hath the light of life[98]» in English, «Ainsi aura lumière de vie» in French[99], identical to Japanese translation.
  3. In Spanish, Granada is closely following, almost shadowing Latin. So he did the same also for the citation from John 8 at the begin­ning of the Con­temptus mundi. While the circums­tantial evidence strongly suggests that the Japanese translators used Gra­nada’s Spanish Imitatio, both the Japanese and Gra­nada’s Spanish translations follow the standard Latin editions of their time as for the chapter numbering in the four books and as for the quotations from the Bible. On the level of the citations from the Bible, Japanese translators privileged the Vulgate of 1592 over the Latin and Granada’s Spanish Imitatio. In order to decipher the Medieval Latin at times difficult to understand, multiple copies of the Imitatio in Latin and Spanish were probably spread on the table, compared, and contrasted, in order to grasp the content in Japanese Jesuit seminaries. Granada’s Spanish must be a strong help for deciphering difficult passages in the Medieval Latin. We are tempted to say that the four Japanese envoys of the Tenshō Mission would have brought the Japanese translation of the Imitatio to Granada himself, for whom the Imitatio was one of his first publications that started his spiritual journey, as these four Japanese are starting their own as his fellow brethren, translators, and followers of Christ, as well as the followers of Granada’s spiritual path. Within the scope of our comparison however, this conclusion remains conjectural.

Archive Source

Boxer, Charles Ralph [XXth c.], marginal note in Ernest Satow 1926, The Jesuit mission Press in Japan 1591-1610, Yokohama, Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. 27, pt. 2. Lilly Library, Indiana University, call number: Z186 J3 S49, p. 29.

Original texts of Contemptus mundi

Anesaki Masaharu, 1976, Shaseiroku in Kirishitan shūkyō bungaku, Tokyo, Kokusho Kankōkai, pp. 55-260.


Joannis Gerson 1488, de contempt omnius vanitatus mundi, [end of the book] Venetijs, Bernardini de benalys, m. cccclxxxviij, Lilly Library, Indiana University, call no. BV4820 1488. (Venice 1488)

Johãnis Gerson,1489, Tractatus de imitatione Christi Cum tractatulo de meditatione cordis, Lugduni [Lyon] impressus p Jobes Trechsel.

Jean Gerson 1491, De imitatione Christi et de meditationes cordis, Parisii [Paris], per Philippum Pygouchet.


Attributed to Jean Gerson and Saint Bernard, La ymitaciõ Jesu Christ (Imitatio Christi) 1488, Toulouse, Henric Mayer. (Toulouse 1488) BNF Gallica.


Luis de Granada 1536, De la Imitación de Cristo y desprecio de toda vanidad, ed. Álvaro Huerga 1998 in Obras completas, vol. 18, Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española Dominicos de Andalucía, pp. 13-272.

Luys de Granada 1555, Contemptus mu[n]di nueuamente romançado y corregido, Evora, Casa de Andres de Burgos. Ant possuidor Companhia de Jesus, Biblioteca Nacional de Lisboa.

Luys de Granada, 1557, Contemptus mu[n]di, Nueuamente romançado y corregido, Lisbon, en casa de Ioannes Blauio de Colonia.

Luis de Granada, 1609, Contemptvs mvndi, o menosprecio del mundo con vn tratado de Oraciones y exercicios de deuocion, Sevilla, Casa de Iuan de Leon.

Luís de Granada, 1800, Contemptus Mundi ó Imitacion de Christo in Obras del V. P. M. Fr. Luis de Granada, vol. 6, Madrid, En la Imprenta de la Real Compañia, pp. 479-574.


Thomas à Kempis 1567, The Imitation or following of Christ. Tr. Edward Hake. London: Henry Denham.

Thomas à Kempis 1580, Of the imitation of Christ. Tr. Thomas Rogers (Book I-III) 1580, and Lady Margaret Countess of Richmond (Book IV) 1504 printed by Wynkyn de Worde, reprint by London : Essex House, 1904.

Thomas à Kempis 1952, The Imitation of Christ, London and New York, Penguin Books.

Bibliographical References

Ampe, Albert S. J. 1973, L’imitation de Jésus-Christ et son auteur, Roma, Edizioni de Storia et Letteratura.

Anesaki Masaharu 1976, Contemptus mundi, tr. The Jesuit Mission Press 1596; edited with notes: Shaseiroku in Kirishitan shūkyō bungaku, Tokyo, Kokusho Kankōkai, pp. 55-260.

Asami Masaichi 2009, Kirishitan jidai no gūzō sūhai, Tokyo, Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai.

Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem 1994, fourth edition, Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Gesamtherstellung Biblica-Druck.

Biggs, B. J. H. 1997, «Introduction» in The Imitation of Christ, The First English Translation of the ‘Imitatio Christi’, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. xix-lxxx.

Delaissé, Léon Marie Joseph 1956, Le Manuscrit autographe de Thomas a Kempis et l’Imitation de Jésus-Christ: examen archéologique et édition diplomatique du Bruxellensis 5855- 61, 2 vols., Amsterdam, Standaard-Boekhandel.

Farge, William S. J. 2002, The Japanese Translations of the Jesuit mission Press, 1590-1614, Lewiston, NY, The Edwin Mellen Press.

Frois, Luis 1978 & 1980, Nihonshi, tr. Matsuda Kiichi & Kawasaki Momota, vols. 5, 6 & 12 Tokyo, Chūōkōronsha.

Gonoi Takashi ed. 2017, Kirishitan daimyo, Kyoto, Miyaobi Shuppansha.

Granada, Luis de 1536, Contemptus mundi, Seville, Juan Cromberger; ed. Alvaro Huerga 1998 in Obras completas, vol. 18, Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española Dominicos de Andalucía, pp. 7-274. (Granada 1998)

Granada, Luis de 1556, Guia de Pecadores (tercera parte), Lisbõa, Ioannes Blavio de Colonia; 1557, Segunda parte de Guia de Pecadores, Salamanca, Andrea de Portonarijs; tr. in Japanese 1599: Guia do pecadoru, n.p. The Jesuit Mission Press; ed, Alvaro Huerga 1994: Guía de Pecadores (Texto primitivo) in Obras completas, vol. 2, Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española Dominicos de Andalucía, pp. 9-195. (Granada 1994)

Granada, Luis de 1567, Guia de Pecadores, Salamanca, Casa de Andrea de Portonarijs; ed. Alvaro Huerga 1995: Guía de Pecadores (Texto definitivo) in Obras Completas, vol. 6, Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española Dominicos de Andalucía.

Granada, Luis de 1583, Introducción des Sumbolo de la Fe, Primera Parte, Salamanca, por los herederos de Mathias Gast; ed. Alvaro Huerga 1996: Introducción del símbolo de la fe I, II, III, IV in Obras Completas, vols. 9-12, Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española Dominicos de Andalucía.

Granada, Luis de 1588, Sumario de la Introducción del símbolo de la fe, Salamanca, Bonardo; ed. Alvaro Huerga 1997 in Obras completas, vol. 13, Madrid, Fundación Universitaria Española Dominicos de Andalucía, pp. 7-442. (Granada 1997)

Granada, Luis de 1557, Contemptus mu[n]di. Nueuamente romançado y corregido, Lisbon, Ioannes Blauio de Colonia. Ant. Possuidor Companhia de Jesus.

Habsburg, Maximilian von 2011, Catholic and Protestant Translations of the Imitatio Christi, 1425-1650, Surrey, England, Burlington, United States, Ashgate.

Huijben, Jacques & Pierre Debongnie 1957, L’auteur ou les auteurs de L’Imitation, Louvain, Publications Universitaires.

Loyola, Ignatius of 1992, The Spiritual Exercises, tr. George E. Ganss S.J., St. Louis, The Institute of Jesuit Sources.

May, Herbert and Bruce Metzger ed. 1977, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, New York, Oxford University Press.

Obara Satoru 2002, Kontemutsusu munji, Tokyo, Kyōbunkan.

Oka Mihoko 2013, «Daikōkai jidai to Nihon» in Kirishitan to shuppan, Tokyo, Yagi Shoten, pp. 23-50.

Orii Yoshimi 2013, «Taikō shūkyō kaikaku to senpuku kirishitan o kirishitanban de tsunagu» in Kirishitan to shuppan, pp. 169-191.

Puyol, Pierre Edouard 1898, Variantes du livre De imitatione Christi, Paris, Victor Retaux.

Satow, Ernest, 1926, The Jesuit mission Press in Japan 1591-1610, Yokohama, Asiatic Society of Japan.

Schütte, Josef Franz S.J. 1980 & 1985, Valignano’s Mission Principles for Japan, tr. John J. Coyne, S.J., 2 vols., Saint Louis, The Institute of Jesuit Sources.

Shin’mura Izuru and Hīragi Gen’ichi ed. 1957, Kontemutsusu munji in Kirishitan bungakushū, Tokyo, Asahi Shinbunsha, pp. 189-390.

Takase Kōichirō 1977, Kirishitan jidai no kenkyū, Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten.

Takase Kōichirō 2013, «Kirishitan jidai no bunka to gaikō» in Kirishitan to shuppan, pp. 51-75.

Toyoshima Masayuki ed. 2013, Kirishitan to shuppan, Tokyo, Yagi Shoten.

Toyoshima Masayuki 2013a, «Kirishitan no insatsushi kara mita kirishitan ban no tokuchō» in Kirishitan to shuppan, p. 138-149.

Toyoshima Masayuki 2013b, «Josetsu – Kirishitan ban no shomotsushi» in Kirishitan to shuppan, pp. 1-19.

Toyoshima Masayuki, 2013c, «Iezusukai kankō Kirishitanban ichiran» in Kirishitan to shuppan, pp. 1-10 [page number in italic counting backward from the end of the book to the beginning].

Valignano, Alessandro 1990, Sumario, tr. J. Bésineau in Les jésuites au Japon, Tokyo, Sophia University.

Valignano, Alessandro 2012, De missione legatorum japonensium ad Romanam curiam, tr. Gloria Clifton and Joyce Lorimer in Japanese Travellers in sixteenth-century Europe., London, Ashgate for The Hakluyt Society.

Valignano, Alejandro 1954, Adiciones del Sumario de Japón, ed. José Luis Alvarez-Taladriz, Tokyo, Sophia University.

[1] Aiko Okamoto-MacPhail is teaching at the Department of French and Italian in Indiana University. Her field is the relationship between East and West axed on France and Japan. Her most recent works include «Développement mélodieux: sense and senses in Maurice Merleau-Ponty», in Contemporary French & Francophone Studies v. 22, 3, 2018, pp. 283-290; «The Jesuit Mission in Japan: History of Rhetoric and its Languages» in Litteraria Copernicana 4 (32), 2019. E-mail:

[2] Valignano 2012, p. 93 and note 2 & p. 200 and note 1.

[3] Ibid., p. 43 and note 3 & p. 213.

[4] Boxer [XXth c.], p. 29.

[5] Granada’s Spanish translation of Contemptus mundi published in 1800 has the same pagination as the text of 1788 that Boxer used. Granada 1800, pp. 479-574.

[6] Puyol 1898, p. 7.

[7] Huijben & Debongnie 1957, pp. 26-27, p. 44.

[8] Delaissé 1956, vol. 2, pp. 21-22 ; Biggs 1997, p. xxxii.

[9] Habsburg 2011, p. 4, pp. 31-33.

[10] Ibid., pp. 181-182.

[11] Ibid., p. 181.

[12] Anesaki, who worked with the Bodleian copy, suggests in his note on this Latin citation of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians 2, 9 that a text other than the Bible is mixed in this quotation. Obara, who consulted both Bodleian and Ambrosiana copies, concludes that the Bodleian copy is quoting 1 Corinthians 2, 9 with exactitude, and then randomly extracts passages and ideas from Isaiah 64, 3 & 65, 17, Jeremiah 3, 16, and Sirach 1, 10 and wrote up its Japanese translation. See Anesaki 1976, p. 66 note c; Obara 2002, pp. 275-276. We will come back to this issue to clarify the matter later.

[13] Anesaki 1976, p. 57.

[14] Shin’mura Izuru and Hīragi Gen’ichi 1957, p. 171.

[15] Obara 2002, pp. 295-296.

[16] Gonoi 2017, p. 49, and note 34, p. 67. A French title corresponding to Deseoso grande cannot be verified among Jean Gerson’s works in the catalogue of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

[17] Frois 1978, vol. 6, pp. 163-170, and note 24 on p. 173 for the date of the letter.

[18] Ibid., p. 176 note 43.

[19] Huijben & Debongnie 1957, pp. 331-332; Habsburg 2011, p. 4 & note 22.

[20] Habsburg 2011, p. 81 & 196; Huijben & Debongnie 1957, p. 331. We need to distinguish Jean Gerson from Giovanni Gersen. The latter, supposedly an Italian Benedictine Abbot of Saint Étienne at Verceil from 1220 to 1240 and whose name is also sometimes spelled Gessen or Gerseem, may not have existed at all. About Giovanni Gersen, see Habsburg 2011, pp. 3-4 & pp. 196-197 ; and the most careful examination in Huijben and Debongnie 1957, pp. 39-40. Huijben and Debongnie speculate that the name of Gerson the Chancellor who was a prolific writer was misspelled by copyists as Giovanni (Jean in French) Gersen or its variants. See Huijben & Debongnie 1957, p. 332.

[21] Schütte 1980, p. 13 & 211.

[22] In modern transcription, this Japanese title is Sankutosu no gosagyō no uchi, nukigaki.

[23] In modern transcription, this Japanese title is Fidesu no dōshi.

[24] Its modern transcription is Giya do pecadoru.

[25] The modern transcription of the Japanese title is the Hidesu no kyō. The above list of Granada’s books is from Toyoshima 2013b, pp. 2-5.

[26] Orii 2013, p. 183.

[27] It is possible that Granada gave the four Japanese his most recent book when the Tenshō Mission visited him.

[28] Gonoi 2017, p. 51.

[29] Ibid., p. 50.

[30] Ibid., pp. 50-51.

[31] Toyoshima 2013b, pp. 8-9.

[32] Frois 1980, vol. 12, p. 62 and note 60 on p. 66.

[33] Frois 1978, vol. 5, p. 231 and note 39 on p. 240.

[34] Obara 2002, p. 299.

[35] Frois 1978, vol. 5, p. 96 and notes 17 & 19 on p. 99.

[36] Ibid., vol. 5, p. 231.

[37] Toyoshima 2013c, pp. 1, 2 & 4.

[38] Frois 1978, vol. 5, p. 231.

[39] Frois 1978, vol. 5, pp. 231, 233, 247 and note 40 on p. 240.

[40] Puyol 1898, p. 25.

[41] Valignano 1954, p. 636: «y obra clásica en los refectorios de la Compañía».

[42] Hasburg 2011, pp. 294-305. According to this list by Habsburg, Kempis’ name as author starts to appear after the middle of the sixteenth century in Italy and Spain.

[43] Habsburg 2011, pp. 255-307. France, which is Gerson’s native country, paradoxically does not attribute this book to him until well past the middle of the sixteenth century.

[44] Granada explicitly mentions that his gives the title of Contemptus mundi to his translation of the Imitatio. See Granada 1998, p. 274.

[45] Granada 1555, title page. Catalogue of the National Library of Portugal.!bnp&view=subscriptionsummary&uri=full=3100024~!324722~!2&ri=1&aspect=subtab13&menu=search&ipp=20&spp=20&staffonly=&term=lus%C3%83%C2%ADadas&index=.TW&uindex=&aspect=subtab13&menu=search&ri=1 checked 3/7/2021

[46] Granada 1557, title page. Catalogue of the National Library of Portugal., checked 3/7/2021.

[47] Granada 1609, title page., checked 3/7/2021

[48] Oka Mihoko 2013, p. 31.

[49] Obara 2002, p. 275.

[50] Granada 1800, p. 574.

[51] Ampe 1973, p. 13.

[52] The dividing line is the second line on p. 134 of Japanese chapter 6 in Anesaki’s edition.

[53] Toulouse 1488, n.p. The following pages are printed twice with one page inserted between them.,%20Jean,%20Jean, both checked 3/7/2021

[54] French chapter 30 is entitled: De la éminence de franche volonté de l’humble oraison mérite plus que quelque leçon, n.p.. The above chapter title is printed twice :,%20Jean,%20Jean, both checked 3/7/2021

[55] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, p. fij : ; Paris 1491, n.p. :, both checked 3/7/2021

[56] Granada 1536, p. 157 ; Granada 1555, p. ivj :, checked 3/7/2021

[57] Anesaki 1976, p. 167.

[58] Valignano 1990, p. 86, note 10.

[59] Anesaki 1976, p. 166.

[60] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, p. fij vo : ; Paris 1491, n.p. :, both checked 3/7/2021

[61] Granada 1536, p. 159 ; Granada 1555, p. Ivij :, checked 3/7/2021

[62] Anesaki 1976, p. 166.

[63] Anesaki 1976, p. 167.

[64] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, p. cij : ; Paris 1491, p. biiii v :, both checked 3/7/2021

[65] Granada 1536, p. 53 ; Granada 1555, p. ciiij :, checked 3/7/2021

[66] Anesaki 1976, p. 87. Kankyo mokuza o suki konomu bekikoto閑居黙坐をすき好むべき事 Love to live the secluded life and to sit for meditation.

[67] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, p. eij vo : ; Paris 1491, n.p. :, both checked 3/7/2021

[68] Granada 1536, p. 119 ; Granada 1555, n.p. :, checked 3/7/2021

[69] Anesaki 1976, p. 142. Yo o itoi, Deusu e tukae tatematsuru wa ikanimo ookinaru go’on nari to iukoto世を厭ひ、デウスへ事(つか)え奉るはいかにも大きなる御恩なりと云ふ事 That to despise the world, and to serve for God is truly a grandiose grace.

[70] Yamamoto quoted by Asami 2009, p. 277.

[71] Loyola 1992, § 74, p. 48.

[72] Ibid., § 91 & 95, p. 53 & 54.

[73] Venice 1488, n.p.; Lyon 1489, n.p.; Paris 1491, n.p.

[74] Toulouse 1488, n.p. In French translation of 1614, it reads «De résister aux tentations» in a modernized spelling.

[75] Granada 1536, p. 39 ; Granada 1555, p. bvj :, checked 3/7/2021

[76] Anesaki 1976, p. 77. テンタサンといふ悪の勧めを防ぐ事 To prevent the evil called temptation.

[77] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, ; Paris 1491 : n.p., :, both checked 3/7/2021

[78] Granada 1800, p. 487; Granada 1536, p. 39 ; Granada 1555, p. bvj :, checked 3/7/2021

[79] Toulouse 1488, n.p. :,%20Jea, checked 3/7/2021

[80] Anesaki 1976, p. 77. This Latin quotation is identical in Anesaki’s modern transcription based on Bodleian copy, and Obara’s transcription based on the Ambrosiana’s copy.

[81] Ibid., p. 77. 人の生涯は世界にて合戦なり Man’s life is a war in the world.

[82] Biblia Sacra 1994, p. 737.

[83] Farge 2002, p. 120.

[84] Ibid., p. 122.

[85] Anesaki 1957, p. 91; Obara 2002, p. 43.

[86] Biblia Sacra 1994, p. 872: «cibabis nos pane lacrimarum et potum dabis nobis in lacrimis in mensura». The spellings of «lacrimarum» and «lacrimis» are, in Anesaki and in Obara, «lacrymarum» and «lacrymis».

[87] «Ciba me domine pane lacrimarum et potum da michi in lacrimis in mensura». Venice 1488, n.p.; Lyon 1489, p. cii : ; Paris 1491, n.p. :, both checked 3/7/2021

[88] Granada 1536, p. 56 ; n.p. : «Hártame Señor del pan de lágrimas, y dame ã beber [beuer in Granada 1555] lágrimas en medida».

[89] Toulouse 1488, n.p., «O dieu donne-moi à manger du pain de larmes et mon breuvage en larme donne-moi par mesure». The orthography is modernized. The above line is found at the end of chapter 21:,%20Jean, checked 3/7/2021.

[90] Biblia Sacra 1994, p. 796 ; Anesaki, p. 92 ; Obara, p. 44.

[91] Granada 1536, p. 57 ; Granada 1555, n.p., line 8 from the bottom :, checked 3/7/2021

[92] Toulouse 1488, n.p. : line 5 from the bottom :,%20Jean, checked 3/7/2021

[93] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, p. cij vo, line 15 : ; Paris 1491, n.p. line 6 :, both checked 3/7/2021

[94] Anesaki 1976, p. 66 & Obara 2002, p. 16: 人の眼は見ることに飽かず、耳は聞くことを以て達せず

[95] Biblia Sacra 1994, p. 986; Anesaki 1976, p. 92; Obara 2002, p. 44.

[96] Venice 1488, n.p. ; Lyon 1489, p. b : ; Paris 1491, p. aii :

[97] Granada 1536, p. 15 ; Granada 1555, n.p. :

[98] Hake, p. 1ro ; Rogers, p. 1.

[99] Toulouse 1488, p. aj :,%20Jean