In 1916 P.Y. Saeki devoted a page of his book The Nestorian Monument in China, to a short thought experiment which linked a Persian by the name of Li-mi-i (Greek passage) who was present in Emperor Shōmu's (Greek passage) court and whose arrival was mentioned in the Shoku Nihongi (Greek passage) with a priest named on the Nestorian Stele. Since that first suggestion, several scholars have expounded the idea that Li-mi-i and another figure who arrived alongside him, Kōho Tōchō (Greek passage), were Christians and/or missionaries. In this paper I assess these claims, returning to the Shoku Nihongi in order to suggest that there is a lack of data to establish them as true. I then seek to explore the origins of this theory situating it within the joint context of Japan's imperial expansion and her modernization. Whilst the latter cannot be conclusive, I hope that it may shed light on the significance of the theory which can be seen as a search to discover Japanese history, a statement of the equality between Japanese and Western histories, or an attempt to justify imperial aims in China academically.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- カルチュラル スタディーズ