In 1533, John Kisai was born into a pagan family who lived in a small village, Haga, near Okayama. He was raised as a Buddhist, but converted to Christianity as did the young woman he married. His wife, however, returned to her Buddhist family. James entrusted their young son to a Christian family, then went to Osaka and took a job as porter at the Jesuit house there. He also helped care for guests. The Jesuits were impressed with his knowledge of the Faith and made him a catechist. At some point before his execution, James made his vows as a Jesuit brother.
James Kisai was beatified by Pope Urban VIII on September 15, 1627, and canonized by Pope Pius XI on July 8, 1862.