What's new

History Herai Village


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Today the topic of the Christian village of Herai in Aomori was discussed (see the thread below):

Ghosts in Japan | Japan Forum

Links on Herai:

Tomb of Jesus in Japan

I just wanted to post some pics I made when I visited the place in 1998. Please don't mind the bad quality (my scanner is from yesteryear) and the fact that it was already dark when the photos were taken.

The image below shows Isukiri's grave who was supposedly Jesus' brother.

The description below reads as follows:

Christ's Grave

When Jesus Christ was 21 years old, he left Japan and pursued knowledge of divinity for 12 years. When he went back to Judea at age 33, and engaged in his mission. However, at that time, people in Judea would not accept Christ's preaching. Instead, they arrested him and tried to crucify him on a cross. His younger brother, Isukiri, casually took christ's place and ended his life on the cross.

Christ, who escaped the crucification, went through the ups and downs of travel, and again came to Japan. He settled right here in what is now called Herai Village, and died at the age of 106.

On this holy ground, he dedicated a burial mound on the right to deify Christ, and a grave on the left to deify Isukiri.

The above description was given in a testament by Jesus Christ.


  • herai2.jpg
    55.2 KB · Views: 390
Herai Village - "The Village of Mystery and Romance"

May I be as bold to ask what religion this story of Jesus and his brother is from?
I have never in my entire life heard of this grave in Japan, nor that Jesus had any family, please forgive me if this is the strong belief in Japan as I am curious as to where these beliefs belong and to whom,
Interesting story! :D

As they believe in Christ, their believe should be based on Christianity. Looks like a sect to me though.
whooo ... the timing then would put Jesus as being born in Mid-East, cruised back to Japan, crusied over to the States to set up the blocks for Brown to find and create at the Mormon belief make another stop in the Mid-East before coming back to Aomori.

Interesting that's for sure.

Hokkaido has a pretty strong Christian population, well, nothing amazing but enough to be noticable.

Genreally speaking, Japanese have an interesting religious system (ahem, including all the tax-free new religions). You visit a shrine during New Years and during Obon make a trip to the temple. I'd say most are Buddhist basically, but a few Shintoist do pop up every once in a while. Many aren't what you call every-Sunday church goer but if there has been a death in a household an alter is put up in the corner of the living room or somewhere. However, mostly this all being very low key.
(Sigh)...Thats the problem. We can't just say "lets go to the videotape". Oh well, i imagine that there's no god but god (the one that controls everything above and below the subatomic universe)and anyone can be it's messenger. i'm actually a pagan (not that i practice, but that i remember my past.) if you must know.
I'm not sure if anyone here is a member of this variation of Christianity but I have read of it before.

When Europeans first came to Japan they brought along Christianity, they were banned before they could finish seperating their followers completely from Buddhism, and more importantly Shinto (not saying anything against shinto, but as I will show in a bit, this religion is a merging of Shinto and Christianity (some Buddhism as well, though thats not shown through those first posts)).

With the Europeans expelled (actually it was only Catholic Europeans who were expelled with the Protestent Europeans just isolated on that one Island (forget the name, heard it mentioned on this board before) and Tokugawa making all Christians renounce their faith (as well as making them all kneel on a Madonna, something considered blasphemous at the time, not sure if it still would be within the Catholic church) The Christians were forced to cover up their beliefs, what most of them did was the same thing every other Japanese person had already done (due to beliefs, not Tokugawa), they built Shinto and Buddhist Shrines/alters within their dwellings. Over time, (probably with the next generation) the Christians beliefs had ceased to be the same Christian beliefs of the Europeans, Catholic, Protestant, or even Orthodox, they were a completely new religion.

By the way, Tosh, you defined your religion as "pagan", That term actually probably isn't as defining as you meant it to be, it is usually used to mean anyone who does not Worship the God of Isreal. This means that approxmatly 1/2 the world population is pagan (as Islam and Christianity make up most of the other half)

Moyashi, I'm curious (based on your comments), are you mormon?

By the way, I don't mean to start any religious arguement or anything, what I said about the Japanese/Christian movement is simply what I have been led to believe through research I have done on the subject, I hope I did not offend anyone who may believe such a faith. If anyone has more information on this though, feel free to give it to me either on the board or through email ([email protected])(FYI, that's where I got this name, put it in because I got tired of getting messages saying that the name I wanted was already taken... thought nobody would take the romaji of a Japanese number :) I was right )
Hi, 92,
No, I'm not Mormon. However, I have/had many friends that are.

Religions have always been a favorite topic of mine.
I find that each religion is interesting in one way or another.

I had baptised Lutheran but went to a Free Methodist Church when I was young. Now, like most Japanese, I enjoy what each festivity brings (I do believe in Jesus in my personal own way).

Talking about religions can be a touchy subject, but I'm sure we can still talk about them?

Japan -
Buddhism vs Shintoism...

Shinto, with its characteristic red arch (torii or is it toori or is it tori ... lol I can never remember which one ... one of the 3 is the word for the bird, though), is a shamanist religion similar to the Iroquois tribe of the Seneca's who I grew up with.

I'm not gonna discuss the "new religions" since 1.) there are literally thousands ... probably up to about 10,000+ or more 2.) they can be used as a tax break 3.) they tend to be offshore.

Buddhism was brought to Japan by Prince Shintoku about 2,000 years ago (???? bad morning ... I forget my history).

Buddhism, to spread, merged/adapted/swallowed other indigenous religions and Shinto based ones. (Think of Christmas ... Christianity adapted Christmas to its own needs).

During WWII, the nationalist (otherwise known as wanna-be dictators) used the Emperor as a rallying point for the people. Basically, the Emperor had been a puppet, figurehead, a separate identity from the government for the past 1,000 years. So, with the Navy and Army working in unison and others as separate identities, they went about the nation unifying the people under the emperor.
To erase foreign influences, the decision to destroy many of the Buddhist temples. The funny thing is that both Shinto and Buddhism had become so intertwined that it was hard to judge which. So the military ended up destroying some shrines and leaving some temples for shrines.

I'm not to read up on the Christians, but I do know that the Mormons are very heavy into missionary activities in Hokkaido. They offer free English lessons too. I read the novel Shogun but ... it's a romance based freely upon figures of the Edo period... with the heavy bashing of the Christians in that book, I'm not sure if it is true or not.

Modern-day Japanese don't seem to be very religious or connected specifically to one type. Instead, they seem to enjoy the activity of the holiday that comes—New Years at the local shrine, Obon at the temple, weddings at a church or shrine.
I guess they break it down as the shrine is for the living or troublesome spirits and the dead at a temple or graveyard.
It isn't obvious if you think about it, but it's pretty simple if you go with the flow.

Of course, I'm generally speaking.
Very insigthful. But let me ask you, considering that there are Christian missionaries and an abundance of "new religions" (I assume you refer to sects), isn't there something like a religious vacuum in Japan? Judging by they way you described religious practice in Japan religion seems to be based on tradition, not on belief.
Yes, Religions and Japan are one of my favorite subjects too, like you I also don't know why that is. Though in response to your comment about being raised luthern, etc. I, as a Christian, do believe that denomenation is an unimportant thing in how things go, most denominations believe roughly the same things and where they differ tends to be in areas of little importance. I also agree that such a subject should be discussable without having an all out flame fest (we are all adults (or old enough to have the maturety not to flame) here right?

As I recall Buddhism came via Korea as part of a gift of friendship.

I have also recently read Shogun (and then Tai-pan (which I went all the way over to Thailand to get)), and am just starting Gai-jin. James Clavell, the author, does base his stories on historical events, as he says in a note in Gai-jin, but while the background is factual and the Characters based on someone out of the past, Their actions and deeds (the non history altering ones) are all fictional, I also noticed that Clavell renames everything (renamed Edo to Yedo, Tokugawa to Toranaga, etc). And yes, around that time there was a Gai-jin samurii in Tokugawa's court, William Adams by name, and he was the one largely responsible for (inadvertantly) letting Tokugawa how Japan could continue without Europeans. One tale about him was that when the Dutch East Indian Company first came to Japan (before it was blocked off), they found Adams to be quite Xenophobic towards Europeans and that he himself wanted them gone.

Sorry for the long post, and the (large) bits that are off topic :D
I've read "Tai-Pan" and "Shogun". It's true that the Portuguese and the Spanish in "Shogun" do not leave a very favorable impression ("evil Catholics"), to say at least. Same applies to the movie, with Yoko Shimada as Lady ...(forgot her name) and Richard Chamberlain as Captain Blackthorne ("Anjin-san").

*G* Childhood memories, and first "impressions" of Japan... ;)
well in those days the reformation had just taken place (The stories queen (Elizabeth I) was the sister of "Bloody Mary", known for her violent purges on the protestents), and Catholics and Protestents were essentially at war with each other, the book does a good job of telling it from the protestents standpoint. There is still some of that attitude around now if you look for it.
All religions are in their own way complex and are a subject of great beliefs and the territories surrounding them. What is most important to one religion is the least important to another, and here lays the way for change. If a person disagrees with a chapter in their Holy Bible, they can, if they wish, find a religion where this chapter is non-existent and become a follower, hence the reason that so many religions are at hand to date,
However, many people tend to stay with their religious beliefs out of duty and not out of the strength of their own faith.
hi all,

J. Clavell really knows how to western/romaticize Asian based stories :D (hehe ... I think I've read all of them).

hmmm religious vacuum.
Interesting question.
Japan, tends to be very dynamic yet static.

Having a strong confusicionist / shintoist background mixed in with a bit of buddhism ... you really don't need a religion to help society with it's morals. Unless, confusionism is truly a religion.

Although, some folks tend / seek a religious comforting I bet most Japanese in genreal don't ponder or pine away worrying if they'll be able to get into heaven or not.

the vacuum ::: would then be a lack of community and not belonging to it.

new religion was a term I learned in Uni. which was used to Japan's thousands and thousands of religous groups / sects ...

Tradtion vs Faith.
Quit possibly. Although, of course, there are folks that do believe.

<< I like to genrealize things ... sorry ... it must be my NY upbringing !?!? >>
Top Bottom