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Alessandro Valignano

Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606) was an Italian Jesuit missionary who helped introduce Christianity to the Far East, especially to Japan. Born in Chieti in the Kingdom of Naples, Valignano went to Padua to study law, then entered in the Society of Jesus in 1566.


After studying philosophy and theology at the Collegio Romano, In 1571 Valignano was appointed “Visitor” (Visitador) to supervise the entire Jesuit mission in the whole of Asia. He came to Japan three times in total and stayed there for a long period (1579–1582, 1590–1592 and 1598–1603). During his stay, he determined the basic policies of the local mission related to structure reorganization, fundraising, and salary structure. He also executed various tasks, including the organizing the Tensho embassy in 1582. In his visit to diverse regions of the country, he met prominent feudal lords such as Nobunaga Oda, Sorin Ootomo, and Hideyoshi Toyotomi.


As a basic policy of the mission, Valignano emphasized integration into the local society and culture without being overly attached to Western habits. This is known as the “adaptation” policy. At the same time, he was active in introducing Western philosophy and science into Japan as the basis of Christian belief. He founded institutions such as the seminario and collegio. This provided the institutional basis for a direct encounter with Western culture and civilization. Upon the return of the Tenshō embassy from Rome, Valignano brought a printing machine and movable type to Japan. This was the beginning of the publishing activity which produced a series of texts for the priests and new believers of the country.

Valignano composed various reports and treatises on a wide range of topics. Among these writings, Tenshō Embassy, Dialogue on the mission of the Japanese ambassadors to Rome, and the things observed in Europe throughout the journey is published in Italian in 2017.

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