Let me tell you the story of Jesus Christ. No, not the one from the Bible. This is a very different story: one little known to the West. This is the true story, where Jesus’ brother was crucified while Jesus fled to Japan and lived to the ripe age of 106 and was buried in a tiny village. At least, this is the true story as told by the people of Shingo.
Shingo is a small village in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, which would not be on the map for most tourists had it not been for the bold claims boasted by residents. The overall story reads more like a prophetic comic book than reality. And with a host of characters involved in the manifestation of such a tale–including the writer of the documents, Wado Kosaka, best known for his attempt to contact aliens on live TV–it’s no wonder this little village in rural Japan has garnered international attention.
Shingo’s legend of Jesus’ tomb goes something like this: During the time not covered by the New Testament beginning at the age of 21, Jesus traveled to Japan and learned the language and culture during his travels. Upon his return, Jesus told Judea all about the sacred land he had visited.
As the Romans pursued him for his crimes, Jesus fled. He escaped persecution, making his way back to Japan and settling in the rural village of Shingo. Meanwhile his brother, Isukiri–whose name sounds suspiciously Japanese–took the fall and was persecuted and crucified in his place. But, not before removing his ear and giving it to Jesus to bring with him as a keepsake.
Jesus fell in love with the daughter of a rice farmer and bore three children as he too farmed rice and lived out his days in the countryside until the age of 106. Upon his death, he was left atop a hill for four years before he was buried with Isukiri’s ear and a lock of his mother’s hair.
The story is far-fetched, to say the least, and in a village where Christianity is virtually nonexistent (even the supposed descendants of Jesus’ family are not Christian), it’s difficult to understand exactly how this story came to be. But regardless of where this story came from, it has become an integral part of the culture of Shingo. There is a museum, the grave mound, and the Sawaguchi family, who are the supposed descendants of Jesus Christ. There is even a plaque that claims it is a gift from the city of Jerusalem to honor the friendship between the Holy Land and Shingo.
Regardless of whether or not you believe in the narrative of Jesus’ grave in Japan, it is a remarkable story that offers an alternative tale of Jesus’ travels and life. Regardless of your own beliefs, visit the museum, see the grave mound, and celebrate the life and death of Jesus with the people of this little remote village. The best time to visit is in June, when you can participate in the festival which occurs annually to celebrate Jesus. Music, dance, and chanting fill the air.
If you are planning a trip to Japan and have the time to spare, visit this controversial village and learn more about this bizarre legend from the locals.