Dom Justo Takayama

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Iustus Takayama Ukon
Born c. 1552
Haibara, Nara, Japan
Died February 5, 1615 (aged 62–63)
Manila, Spanish East Indies
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast 3 February
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Takayama".

Takayama Ukon (高山右近?) or Dom Justo Takayama (or Iustus Takayama Ukon or Hikogoro Shigetomo) (1552 Haibara-cho, Nara, Japan – February 5, 1615 Manila, Philippines) was a kirishitan daimyo and a Japanese samurai who followed Christianity in the Sengoku period of Japan.


Takayama Justo was born to be the heir of Takayama Tomoteru, the lord of Sawa Castle in the Yamato Province. His name as a child was Hikogorō (彦五郎). At the age of 12 (1564), his father converted to Catholicism and Hikogorō was also baptized Justo. After his coming-of-age ceremony, Hikogorō was named Shigetomo (重友). However, he is better known as Takayama Ukon (高山右近). The name Ukon comes from the government post he pretended, the officer of Ukonoefu (this was usual practice among samurai of the time).[1]

Justo and his father fought through the turbulent age to secure their position as a daimyo. They managed to acquire Takatsuki Castle (Takatsuki, Osaka) under the warlord Oda Nobunaga and also under daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi, at least in the first years of his rule. During their domination of Takatsuki Region, Justo and his father Dario pushed their policy as Kirishitan daimyo (Christian daimyo) forward. Many of his fellows converted under his influence.[1]

However, Toyotomi Hideyoshi grew against Christianity and, in 1587, he ordered the expulsion of missionaries. While many daimyo obeyed this order and discarded Catholicism, Justo proclaimed that he would maintain his religion and rather give up his land and property.[1]

Takayama Ukon in Manila, 17th-century painting

Justo lived under the protection of his friends for several decades, but following the 1614 prohibition of Christianity by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the ruler of the time, he was expelled from Japan. On November 8, 1614, together with 300 Japanese Christians he left his home country from Nagasaki.[2] He arrived at Manila on December 21 and was greeted warmly by the Spanish Jesuits and the local Filipinos there.[1][3]

The Spanish Philippines offered their assistance in overthrowing the Japanese government by an invasion to protect Japanese Catholics. However, Justo declined to participate and he opposed the plan, but he died of illness just 40 days afterwards.[1]

At that time, the Spaniards referred to the Paco Area as the "Yellow Plaza" because of the more than 3,000 Japanese who resided there. Plaza Dilao is the last vestige of the old town of Paco.[1]

There is a statue of Dom Justo Takayama in Plaza Dilao, Manila. Justo appears in the statue wearing warrior robes with his hair tied in a knot. He is carrying a sword that is pointed downward, upon which hangs a figure of a crucified Jesus.[1]

When he died in 1615, the Spanish government interred him with a Christian burial with full military honors as a Daimyo. He is the first Daimyo to be buried in Philippine soil.[1][4]


Takayama is currently in consideration for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church with protocol number 1241 assigned by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.[5] His current title is Servant of God, but his beatification has been approved and will probably occur in 2015, the 400th year after his death, according to Cardinal Angelo Amato in 2014.

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2014 NHK Taiga drama Gunshi Kanbei, Takayama Ukon was played by Ikuta Tōma.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Samurai’s Cause for Beatification Forwarded to Rome". National Catholic Register. February 5, 2014.
  2. ^ Ocampo, Ambeth (6 February 2015). "Justo Takayama Ukon". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Japanese in the Philippines? Taksan-taksan!". Negros Chronicle. February 16, 2014.
  4. ^ "TAKAYAMA UKON: PHILIPPINES’ THIRD SAINT?". Negros Chronicle. February 02, 2014.
  5. ^ "The Japanese Church ready to celebrate Takayama Ukon, "samurai of Christ"". Retrieved August 20, 2013. 

External links[edit]