When European Jesuits first arrived in Japan in the 1540’s, the island nation was open to new people bringing new ideas and beliefs. Within just a few decades more than 100,000 Japanese converted to the Catholic faith. Even some of the powerful, land-owning warlords, known as daimyos, converted. But by the late sixteenth century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japan’s ruler, becoming suspicious about the foreigners’ intentions, began to restrict their freedoms. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi died, Tokugawa Ieyasu assumed power as shogun, and he was even more antagonistic toward the Catholics and their proselytes. In 1614 he banned Catholicism, banished all Catholics and their converts, and ordered the annihilation of all who did not either recant their faith or obey the banishment.
In Hidden by the Leaves, Father Joaquim Martinez represents the Jesuits in Japan at the time. Living in a small peasant village within the much larger Hizen-province, ruled by the cruel, self-serving Daimyo Matsukura Shigemasa, Father Joaquim and his two young catechists, Miguel and Tanya, choose to risk their lives by defying the banishment order to stay and help the villagers who have become their family.
In 1623, Tokugawa Hidetada, Ieyasu’s son, turned over the shogunate to his son, the decadent and brutal Tokugawa Iemitsu. Three years later, Daimyo Shigemasa uncovered the villagers’ secret—their conversion to the Catholic faith—and the presence of a Catholic priest in their midst. Hidden by the Leaves chronicles Father Joaquim’s and the villagers’ miracle-filled attempts—aided by the mysterious Master Watanabe—to escape the clutches of the vicious shogun, the relentless daimyo, and their hordes of powerful samurai.
Tagline: A Jesuit Priest sets out to save his village from a Christian holocaust imposed by the Shogun in 17thCentury Japan.Read Prologue