A study by the Cultural Affairs Agency has confirmed that a book on Christianity and a scroll section depicting an ox that were found at a used books store in Tokyo’s Kanda district are cultural assets of national importance.

The Isseido bookstore purchased the scroll, measuring about 28 cm × 32 cm, at a secondhand book fair years ago.

The coverless book has about 800 pages, some of which show signs of insect damage. It was kept for more than 50 years after being obtained by the late Eirin Asai, a Kanazawa University professor.

Cultural Affairs Agency officer On Hayashi said the ink used in the scroll is in excellent condition and that the government is considering buying the artifact.

Later studies showed the scroll section, featuring elaborate detail, is one of 10 bearing the same image. It dates to the late Kamakura Period, when oxen were treasured for their role in pulling the carriages of noble families.

Eight of the 10 were found stored in Japan at facilities such as the Tokyo National Museum and the Gotoh Museum, and abroad, experts said.

The book was published in the early Edo Period in Japan and was used by foreign missionaries to preach to the Japanese. It was printed in 1607 on a metal press brought by the Jesuits, and was phonetically written in Japanese using Roman characters.

Experts believe such books were taken abroad when Japan banned Christianity. A church in the city of Nagasaki and a convent in Spain were confirmed to have such books.

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