- 5 Feb 2005
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Just a funny column that I found a couple of days ago
Did Jesus settle down in Japan?
by Jeff Cheek
Did Jesus Christ escape crucifixion and live out his days in a tiny village in northern Japan? The Bible says no, but a Japanese legend says he did. His tomb, and that of his brother Ishikiri, are in the hills above Shingo village in Aomori Prefecture. Shingo is a remote, strung out settlement of a few dozen houses jammed against the mountains to save the precious arable valley for crops of rice and garlic. It was once called Herai. Some experts believe “herai” is the word for Hebrew in old Japanese.
The legend fills in the 18-year gap the Bible leaves in Christ’s life. At age 12, he is confounding the priests in the temple with his knowledge. Then he disappears until age 30, when he begins his ministry. The legend says that Jesus came to Japan at age 21 to study Oriental philosophy and theology. After a decade, he returns to Jerusalem and begins to teach and heal the people of Israel. His ministry brings him into conflict with both the Roman and Jewish authorities. He is arrested, tried and sentenced to death. But, because of mistaken identity, his brother is the man crucified by the Romans.
The legend does not explain how his brother takes his place on the cross. Crushed by these disasters, Jesus longs for the peace and quiet he enjoyed as a student in Japan and determines to return. It takes a year, but he finally arrives at the port of Hachinohe, bringing his brother’s ears and hair with him, so his brother’s spirit can rest in peace when Jesus settles down in his adopted homeland.
The brother’s Japanese name is Ishikiri. He is buried in the second mounded grave above Shingo village.
Christ settles in an isolated valley in northern Honshu, far away from the powerful Shogun in Edo (Tokyo). He first came to Japan about 25 B.C., during the reign of Emperor Suinin. He had lived and studied in Toyama Prefecture, west of the capital city, and knew first hand the brutal power exercised by the Shogunate. He found tranquillity and safety in the remote valley.
He was already fluent in Japanese. To gain the trust of the rural farmers of Aomori, Jesus adopted a Japanese name: Herai Taro Ten Ku. This part of the legend is documented. Assuming the word “herai” means Hebrew, he deliberately identified himself as a Jew.
Jesus, or Ten Ku, set to work again. He began to teach and heal these rural families. His good works are legendary. He once walked several days to bring food and medicine to starving, snow bound families. Slowly, he was accepted by his neighbors. He became a revered member of the community for his good works as a teacher and healer. He was rewarded by being given a nickname, a mark of affection and acceptance in the polite, rigid Japanese society. They called him “Tenju,” or longnosed goblin, because of his pronounced Caucasian features.
Another mark of his acceptance was his marriage to Lady Miyu. He fathered three daughters and lived to the age of 106. When he died, he was buried beside Ishikiri in a small pine shaded plot of land, some 100 yards up a steep slope above Shingo village.
Members of the Sawaguchi family are supposedly descendants of his union with Lady Miyu. It would be easy to discount this as nonsense, if the Sawaguchi family crest did not contain a stylized Star of David.
Next week’s column will examine this story further. Obviously, it is more legend than fact, but there are some intriguing clues. And the column will offer a possible explanation. It may not be Jesus Christ, but someone very important is buried under that mound.