This article provides an analysis and translation of a curious letter, dated October 25, 1619, and sent from the Nagasaki jail by the Japanese Jesuit brother Kimura Leonardo (1575–1619) to Padre Geronimo Rodrigues (1567–1628) in Macao. The letter is preserved in the Japonica/Sinica section of the Archive of the Society of Jesus in Rome. It is curious because it is one of the very few surviving handwritten documents belonging to a now-defunct category of writings in Japanese that used the Roman alphabet (romaji) and was the particular cultural achievement of the Jesuit mission in Japan. The letter is proof that there existed a written culture in Christian Japan that used the alphabet as an easy way to correspond not only between Japanese and European members of the Society of Jesus but also possibly, if necessary, between the educated Christian public and European missionaries in Japan.

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