At Japan's first Western school, a seminary, set within Arima's territory, students were given a leading-edge education, with a special selection of the best and brightest foreign lecturers as capital.
After seeing Japanese students, fluent in Latin, doing presentations and debates, it is said the vice provincial head of the Society of Jesus said with surprise, "It felt as though I were in Coimbra (Portugal)."
In 1579, Father Valignano, who came to Japan on behalf of the Society of Jesus, was painfully aware of the difficulty of missionary work, as Japanese unique customs were an obstacle to their work. Therefore, rather than forcing European culture on them, they instilled their plan of propagation while respecting the uniqueness of Japanese culture. In connection with that, he directed the foundation of the seminary (a secondary educational institution for monk training) in Arima and Azuchi leading to the first Western school that came into being in Japan, in Arima's territory.
In 1580, Arima's seminary was built beneath Hinoe Castle, it is said, foreign lecturers methodically taught Western studies of the Renaissance Period such as language instruction of Latin and other languages, religion, geography and so on.
At first, the seminary, beneath Hinoe Castle, was also affected by Hideyoshi's order expelling Jesuit missionaries and so forth, and it was relocated to Hachirao in Arima's territory. In Hachirao, however, with painting and block printing instruction reaching its peak, and also with the necessity of missionary work, students were instructed in techniques at an extremely high degree. Accordingly, having students make reproductions of paintings brought from Rome, it is said they were so good that it was difficult to tell which the originals were.
Likewise, with students proficient in Latin, performances and debates were held in Latin. After observing that, the vice provincial head of the Society of Jesus said repeatedly, time and time again, of their exceptional fluency, "It felt as though I were in Coimbra (Portugal)." Although it was surprising that students at that time were at a level to be able to have debates in a foreign language, it was no wonder, as nearly all of the missionaries, their teachers, were highly-competent people with superior ability who had graduated from European universities and had obtained their doctorates.
At its inception, the seminary began with 22 students and with an official report of 70 students in 1595, it was relocated from Hachirao to Arie. In accordance with Hideyoshi's ban on Christianity, it was also relocated to Nagasaki, however in 1601 it was back again on Arima's territory. After Harunobu Arima lost his wife to illness, he built a new home in order to take a new wife from the Imperial Court of Kyoto, however, it was donated to the Society of Jesus and used as a seminary.
Harunobu, next to that, also built a church that was said to be 'the most majestic in Japan.' At the time, it was necessary to make an even stronger castle than Hinoe Castle. Although the castle construction of Hara Castle was given consideration, Harunobu gave priority to the construction of churches. This episode is an account of how great Harunobu’s faith was in Christianity.
In Arima's territory, for a time, collegio, a college (in present day university, an institution of higher education for the training of clergymen) was also established, with the elite gathering from various parts, leading-edge Western education was conducted. However, in 1612, the seminary was relocated to Nagasaki again and in 1614, in accordance to Ieyasu Tokugawa's ban on Christianity, it was closed. Although just over 30 years after its founding, after this, the students who studied at this seminary literally risked their lives to do Christian mission work while Japan was under a ban on Christianity.
In order to establish the seminary, Japan's first Western school, there had to be a land where Christianity had already taken root. Harunobu Arima, a Christian daimyo, provided his befitting land and territory for the seminary students to plant the seeds with their mission work from which Christianity bloomed. And yet, that was, in Japan, a country under a ban, they were the seeds that were dropped into a world shut away.