An active conspiracy theory that rivals the revelations of "The Da Vinci Code" awaits visitors to the sleepy village of Shingo, between Hachinohe and Lake Towada in Aomori Prefecture. Every year in June, a ceremony unlike any other in Japan awakens Shingo (called “Herai” in times long ago) and women in kimono dance around the grave of Jesus Christ. Yep, THE Jesus Christ.
You didn’t know? You can visit his grave in a beautiful park in Aomori. But, behold, there is a lot more to this legend. Back in 1935, a well-known researcher dug up some ancient scriptures in Herai. They were written in Hebrew and supposedly signed by none other than the man, Jesus Christ, himself. These scripture allege that Jesus came to Herai when he was 21 to study religion for 12 years. Then he returned to Judea to teach everyone what he had learned in Japan.
As the story goes, people there didn’t agree with what he was trying to preach and arrested him. It seems however, that here’s where the story takes a twist. Jesus managed to escape crucifixion by having his little brother take his place on the cross. Jesus had a brother? You ask. Apparently so. The real Jesus did a bit of backpacking, then came back to Japan where he settled down in Herai. He married a Japanese woman named Miyu and became a rice farmer. His gravesite marks the end of his 106-year life (or 118 according to some people). His brother’s grave sits comfortably beside Jesus’ grave.
The burial mounds were done in a way that is consistent with how the tombs of important figures of that time were buried at the time. Nearby are the grave sites of the Sawaguchi family. According to the Hebrew writings, the Sawaguchis, who continue to live in the area, are the true descendants of Christ. Indeed, photos of them and their ancestors reveal faces obviously different that typical Japanese. They are taller, their noses longer, and their skin lighter than others in the village.
The family emblem of the Sawaguchis marks the outside of their present home in the village. It is a star, remarkably similar to the Star of David. As if to fuel the legend, in 2004, the ambassador of Israel visited Shingo and donated a plaque, written in Hebrew.
The meanings of the words chanted by those who perform the annual ceremony have long since been forgotten by locals. However, it is an old Hebrew tongue, and some parts sound familiar such as the word “Nazareth.” Furthermore, the name Herai is likely derived from the ancient “Hebron,” or home of the Hebrews. Some documents refer to the village as New Herai.
Also of interest is that linguistics experts say the Japanese language has several words that bear remarkable similarities to the Hebrew language. They are puzzled at how this could have happened since there is no historical connection between Japan and ancient Israel. Or is there? Other legends say that a lone man arrived by boat one day, long, long ago, from exactly that area of the world, he spoke Hebrew, and taught locals many things.
There exists today a very unique custom in Shingo. When a new baby comes into the world, a cross is drawn upon its forehead. Locals do not know why, but like many Japanese customs it is followed merely out of respect for tradition.
The Christ Tomb museum has many other artifacts of local traditions such as unique clothing and weaved baskets that are oddly similar to those in ancient Israel.
Of course, with every legend comes doubt. Alas, our amazement is stifled when we learn that the alleged authentic documents, written in perfect Japanese and signed by Jesus, were found by Kyomaro Takeuchi, who was employed by the mayor of Shingo. At that time, the mayor had been on a desperate journey to promote his town’s appeal to tourists. With 10,000 people a year coming to his little village now, it looks as though he was successful.© Japan Today