Luis Frois

From SamuraiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
  • Born: 1532
  • Died: 1597/5/24 (July 8, 1597)
  • Japanese: ルイス・フロイス (Ruisu Furoisu)
  • Note that sometimes he is referred to as "Froez."

Luis Frois was a prominent Jesuit missionary active in Japan from 1563 until his death in 1597.

Frois was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1532, and worked for the Royal Secretary's office for a time in his youth. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1548, and relocated to Goa, in India, that same year, where he served as a secretary and studied in the College of Saint Paul. He joined the mission in Malacca from 1554 to 1557, when he returned to Goa. Frois was ordained as a priest and confessor in 1561, and left Goa the following year. After spending several months again in Malacca, he arrived in Japan in 1563, where he began to study Japanese language and customs in Takushima (度島) near Hirado. Early in 1565 he joined the Jesuits in Kyoto and for the next few years experienced the confusion of the times. In 1569, the year after Oda Nobunaga entered Kyoto, he met Nobunaga at the Nijô castle construction site, the first of many audiences with him. In 1576 he left Kyoto and went to Bungo province, where he served as "superior" until 1581. He spent most of the rest of his life in Kyushu.

In 1581 Frois accompanied the Visitor Alessandro Valignano to Kyoto and Azuchi, and visited Echizen province. He then became assistant to Vice Provincial Gaspar Coelho from 1582 to 1587, and accompanied Valignano to Macao in 1592-1595 before returning to Japan. He died in Nagasaki in 1597, a few months after the death of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan.

Frois was the author of many of the Jesuit annual reports and over a hundred long letters. Many of these were printed in Cartas in Europe in 1598 (translated into Japanese in Jesuit Reports). He also wrote an account of the death of the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan and a history of the Jesuit mission in the Far East from 1549. This Historia, though commissioned and encouraged by the Jesuit establishment in the East, was ultimately never sent to Rome and never published until the 20th century, as Valignano and others felt it was both too long, and contained too many details "not suitable to mention" to a European audience. The original manuscripts were lost in a fire in 1835, but manuscript copies produced by other Jesuit scholars gradually surfaced over the course of the 20th century and were eventually published.[1]

In English, They Came to Japan has many excerpts from his writings, and Murdoch quotes him (from Cartas) extensively.


  • They Came to Japan: An Anthology of European Reports on Japan, 1543-1640, compiled and annotated by Michael Cooper, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965.
  • 日本キリスト教歴史大事典 (Large Dictionary of Japanese Christian History)、教文館, 1988.
  • Haruko Nawata Ward, Women Religious Leaders in Japan's Christian Century, Ashgate (2009), 17-18.
  1. Ward, 18.