The Bell of Nanban-ji is designated as a National Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. This Jesuit bell was made in Portugal in 1577 and used at Nanbanji Church.
Nanbanji Church was the first Christian church in Kyoto. In 1576, Jesuit Father Gnecchi-Soldo Organtino established this church with the support of Nobunaga Oda, who was one of the most powerful feudal lords who ruled Kyoto in the late 16th century. In the next eleven years, Nanbanji was the center of Catholic missionary activities in Japan. Also, this church became an important place for traders from Portugal and Spain.
In 1587, Regent Hideyoshi Toyotomi created a law against all Christians in Japan. Nanbanji was destroyed and was never rebuilt. Following the anti- Christian policy of Regent Hideyoshi, the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity and systematically eliminated all Christians. Thus, the Bell of Nanbanji vanished from the Japanese history until the bell came to Shunkōin about 200 years ago.
On the surface of the bell ... under an IHS Christogram, there are three nails of the seal of the Society of Jesus. Three nails symbolize the Crucifixion of Christ. Also the Arabic numerals 1577 were engraved on the surface.