Until very recently, Japan seemed like a country obsessed with going its own way. Europeans were not allowed into it for a long time, and even elements of the culture of Asian neighbors were opposed to everything Japanese as something clearly alien. In isolation, Japan found itself without knowledge of technical and social innovations and, in the end, seriously lagged behind the countries of Europe. However, this was not always the case, and at the very end of the sixteenth century there was every reason to believe that cultural and trade contacts with Europe would become permanent.
In 1542, a Chinese junk approached the Japanese shores. Three people got off her with multi-colored hair and eyes, clothes completely unlike kimono, and with a narrow sword on their side. They were the Portuguese, shipwrecked merchants. In addition to swords, they had arquebus with them, which they showed in action in order to interest the Japanese - and taught how to make the same.
However, there is a legend that in order to obtain the secret of making firearms, a blacksmith named Yaita Kimbe gave his daughter, a young and tender Wakasaka, for one of the Europeans. Her husband took her to distant Portugal, but she was so homesick among strangers, multicolored people with loud voices and huge eyes that a year later he came back to Japan with her. At home, Wakasaka persuaded the family to present the whole case as if she had died of an illness. The Portuguese, thinking that he was widowed, sailed away again, leaving Wakasaka in her beloved homeland.
People from across the seas amazed literally everyone. They bowed, ate, sat, smiled and talked to each other in a different way. They were lanky, bearded, with skin from which hair and hairs stuck out literally everywhere. They seemed like aliens. But, judging by some purely physiological signs, they were exactly the same people as the Japanese and the Chinese - just very, very strange in appearance and did not know good manners. Their whole mind went into various cunning inventions.
Any path that the Portuguese opened immediately became commercial and a little missionary. Goods poured into Japan from Asian countries lying on the way between Portugal and the Japanese shores. The rather meager, previously extremely restrained Japanese cuisine has been transformed. There, for example, sweets and food fried in oil have penetrated (and with it the word "tempura" - a distorted tempora, "time").
It was not only about food - Japan, shattered by feudal lords, suddenly began to flourish. Artisans adopted many foreign secrets, merchants sold out imported overseas goods, artisans began to unite in guilds. This is not to say that the guilds are a purely European invention, but the process surprisingly coincided with the activity of the Portuguese in Japan.
Following the Portuguese came the Spaniards, and with both came the Catholic missionaries. The process began, which in distant countries the Portuguese and Spaniards preceded or accompanied the process of colonization. The monks spread a faith that gave a sense of community with Europeans and at the same time taught us to humble ourselves before any authority that comes; merchants sold weapons with which local tribes interrupted each other and thanks to which local princes got involved in civil wars, tempted by the opportunity to rob a neighbor with less effort than usual.
The effect was suddenly reversed. The Japanese gravitated towards the idea of the sacredness of power, but in a slightly different vein: no matter what happened, even the emperor deprived of power over the country was considered a descendant of the great goddess Amaterasu and remained a sacred and revered figure. At the time when the Portuguese arrived in the country, Japan was already torn apart by civil strife, and the appearance of firearms only brought the natural result closer.
First, the Japanese finally defeated the true masters of those islands that Asians once came to - the bearded fair-skinned Ainu. Second, conflicts have escalated and the approaching denouement has accelerated. In Japan, a feudal lord appeared who was able to unite a fragmented country and devoted his life to this. Who would be considered the ruler of the lands he had conquered was not even discussed: of course, the emperor. Under the protection of his loyal vassal, the second person after the main demigod of the country. The defender's name was Oda Nobunaga.
Nobunaga patronized Europeans, including missionaries, the Europeans patronized Nobunaga in response, generously sharing military secrets with him and bombarding him with imported gifts - they very much hoped that either his aggression would destabilize Japan, or he would completely seize power and continue cooperation with Portugal and the Jesuit Order.
Despite the patronage, the Jesuits had a hard time. To preach, they actively studied Japanese, but could not find many words and concepts in it that could convey Christian ideas. The very idea of active missionary work was incomprehensible to them. Oda Nobunaga, seeing on the map the path that the Jesuits traveled, laughed for a long time, and then said that they are either thieves and idiots, or really strive to tell people something very important.
Nobunaga himself was very fond of everything European, including clothing, and he sometimes combined purely Japanese garments with European ones or altered in a European way. Knowing this his addiction in Japanese cinema and TV shows, he can be portrayed in tapering hakama pants (traditional ones remain wide along the entire length) or a shirt under a kimono. In his tastes, Nobunaga was not alone, and sometimes from afar it was impossible to understand whether a crowd of Portuguese or noble Japanese was walking in clothes sewn in a European manner.
The Christian community of the Japanese was expanding before our eyes, European fashions and dishes captured public tastes and minds, and, probably, Japan would have followed the path it is now following much earlier, if not for the betrayal of one of Nobunaga's commanders. Oda lost the battle to him and committed hara-kiri (or seppuku). The country lingered in a period of feudal disunity. The conservatives began to take power under themselves.
Twenty-five years after Nobunaga's death, Christianity was banned. A few years later, Christians raised an uprising, protesting against oppression, and after its brutal suppression, any presence of Europeans on the Japanese islands was prohibited at all. For some time they were still cautious in trading with the Dutch, but this connection with Europe came to naught. Japan is closed to the big world.
In addition to the Japanese, from that moment on the islands were only white-skinned Ainu: despised by the Japanese, who created Japanese culture.