In 1597, the Japanese emperor had 26 men crucified. They became the 26 martyrs.
Christianity entered Japan in 1549 with the advent of three Jesuits. They had the goal to teach the Japanese of Christ. Father Francis Xavier gained the approval of a Japanese feudal lord, receiving permission to preach and convert in his area. Christianity quickly spread among the Japanese, and the missionaries showed respect for their customs.
Soon the Emperor feared the power of the nations bringing the missionaries. He outlawed Christianity. Still, some missionaries flouted the law and continued to preach in public.
Then in 1596, a Spanish ship crashed off the coast of Japan. The emperor took possession of its goods. The ship’s captain, angry, implied that the country took over through commerce and missionaries.
Hearing his fears articulated the emperor again banned Christianity. He then rounded up 26 men and boys, the youngest 12, and crucified them publicly. These 26 men became the 26 martyrs and were later canonized in 1862. In Japan, Christianity went underground for many years but never left.