Thus, he became the best “disciple”, willing - as he writes in his Memoirs - to “become like one of them, so that in everything there may be harmony”. He tried to imbibe the Japanese spirit, learning the complicated tea ceremony, the calligraphy, the music of its theatre, in an experience of what was later known as “enculturation”. After this “cultural novitiate”, he recognized that here he was totally in his place, “in my center”, as he expressed it.
His lengthy stay on the hill of Nagatsuka started in 1942, when he was appointed novice master and superior. He was a demanding and humane formator, idealistic and sensitive to the concrete realities, creative and attentive to the traditions of the Society; always leading by example. From Nagatsuka came many Jesuits well prepared for the challenges of mission, as was Arrupe himself.
But it was also here that he came face to face with the suffering after that terrifying experience of August 6, 1945, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The novitiate became a makeshift hospital crowded with so many of the injured. Father Arrupe’s desk turned into an operating table and his office into a waiting room where the cries of pain could not be restrained. Through all this, the entire community gave everything it had with great generosity.
Years later, Arrupe, reflecting on the discovery of the energy of the atomic bomb, noted how powerful forces have declared themselves masters of the world, eliminating God, and treating other humans as “objects”, instruments for their own personal good, “the ultimate perversion of the human person”. To this negative force, Father Arrupe offered an opposing “apostolic energy” - a favourite expression of his - which was the very same strength that imbued Peter Faber traveling through Europe, to carry out of the mission expressed in today's Gospel: “What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops”. Likewise, Arrupe went out to the whole world, to tell of his experience in Hiroshima, and to invite everyone to be agents of life and of good, and not of death and destruction. One of the students who heard him in the auditorium of the Areneros school in Madrid was Adolfo Nicolás, who later declared that he had run into a great missionary, “a man of fire”.