A Strange Japanese Jesus
By James Donahue
Because of books and films on the subject, most people by
now are aware of the story of a mythical link between Mary Magdalene and Jesus in the area of Rennes-le-Chateau, France.
But there is another story, told by the people of Shingo,
Japan, that strangely links Jesus with that community. The people there not only believe this story, they have a complete
legend and even grave markers to indicate that Jesus and his family lived out their lives there 2000 years ago.
The Christian story from the New Testament claims that Jesus
was crucified at Calvary, rose from the dead three days later, and thus became a blood sacrifice to cover the sins of mankind.
But the Shingo story is very different. It claims that Jesus
escaped the clutches of the Romans and fled to Japan where he lived a life in exile in this northern mountain village. There
he married a woman called Miyuko, and they became parents of three daughters. Jesus died at the age of 106.
Two wooden crosses outside the village mark the graves of
Jesus and his brother, Isukuri. There is even a museum that remembers Jesus as a garlic farmer known to the Japanese as Daitenku
Isukuri, the people say, was crucified in Jerusalem instead
of Jesus. When Jesus came to Shingo he brought with him the severed ear of his brother. Apparently it is only the ear that
lies buried in that ancient tomb beside Jesus.
In the museum is a scroll, said to be a copy of an original
document that was the last will and testament of Jesus. The original document, first discovered in the hands of a priest in
1935, was reportedly destroyed during the war. But a copy exists and is contained in a glass case.
A sign beside the grave explains that when Jesus was 21,
he came to Japan to study the divinity of the masters there. He remained there for 12 years, living somewhere near Mount Fuji,
and became fluent in Japanese. When he was 33, Jesus returned to Judea and began his ministry there.
The community was called Harai when Jesus arrived. Many
locals say it was a Hebrew name. They also claim a song, or mantra, recited by the people for generations, also sounds more
Hebrew than something spoken in the Japanese dialect. It goes: "Na-Nee-Ya-Do-Ya-Ra."
A news clip about the community cites villager Yoshiteru
Ogasaware as saying that there are other strange and unexplained customs in Shingo that may link the community to Hebrew origins.
For example, there is a strange blessing of the children
with a black sign of the cross on their foreheads, even though the people are not Christians. Also many villagers wrapped
newborn babies in cloth marked by the Star of David.
“Every now and then a blue-eyed baby is born and some
people say that these children are the descendants” of Jesus, Ogasaware said. “Then we heard about these ancient
scrolls that said Jesus had come to Japan, and we put everything together.”
Apparently Jesus grew garlic and gave up his ministry when
he arrived in Japan.
Some say that if the real tomb of Jesus is a marked grave
in Japan, the story could be proven if the bones could be exhumed. But Japanese tradition forbids this.
Thus the Japanese people of Shingo have their legend, complete
with graves and a scroll that neither proves nor disproves their story.
While Ogasaware says he does not believe the Jesus story,
he notes that even before the scroll was found, the ancient tomb was said to contain someone very important, “although
nobody knew who.”