Christovao Ferreira

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  • Other Names: Sawano Chûan

Christovão Ferreira was a prominent member of the Portuguese Jesuit mission in Japan, but apostatized (swore off Christianity) in 1635, under torture from shogunate officials. He then went on to marry a Japanese wife and, seemingly, lead a happy life as a member of Japanese society.

One Portuguese account claims that Ferreira was forced by the local village headman (shôya) to marry a Japanese woman, and that this woman had previously been married to a Chinese man who was later executed as a criminal. The account ends by saying that Ferreira and his Japanese wife do not get along well. It seems rather unlikely, however, that he would have been forced into marriage; this was by no means standard.

Ferreira did, however, learn Japanese, take on the name Sawano Chûan, and find an official position as a religious inquisitor for the shogunate (shûmon no metsuke). He married a Japanese woman (whether under the circumstances described in the Portuguese account or not is unclear), and had a son, Chûjirô, who is said to have been a skilled pilot, i.e. of ships.


  • Gary Leupp, Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900, A&C Black (2003), 54.
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