Shingo is a town in Northern Japan that claims to be the final resting place of Jesus Christ. Yes, you read that correctly. The Jesus Christ. The idea of Jesus in Japan may seem preposterous to most, but local Shingo legend has it that Jesus spent the majority of his life in this little hillside farming village. And, why can’t there be a Japanese Jesus? After all, there is a black Jesus, a white Jesus, a Latin Jesus and pretty much every other kind of Jesus. But, you may be wondering, "how did Jesus go to Japan if he was born all the way in Nazareth?" Well, it’s a long and complicated story, but an entertaining one that you don’t want to miss out on.
A sign at the entrance of the village in Shingo explains the legend of Christ in Japan. It says that Christ came to Shingo when he was 21, and stayed for 12 years. This conveniently accounts for the 12 missing years of Christ’s life in the New Testament. Apparently, Christ came to Japan to expand his theological knowledge. He then supposedly became a disciple of a master near Mount Fuji. He then returned to Judea when he was 33 to continue preaching the word of god, and to tell all the Israelites about Japan. Well, we all know how the story goes; they didn’t really care for what Jesus had to say back in Judea.
According to the legend, Christ had a brother who resembled him quite a bit (despite having different dads). Apparently, it was Jesus’ little brother, named Isukiri, who died on the cross, not Christ. Isukiri selflessly took his brother’s place, while the latter was high-tailing it back to Japan. But, before Jesus fled, he supposedly took one of Isukiri’s ears and a lock of the Virgin Mary’s hair as a forget-me-not. Now, the talismans are buried next to Jesus’ grave on the holy mound in Shingo.
This legend comes from the fantastical “Takenouchi Documents.” The documents were found in 1936, and then destroyed after WWII. But, a three-volume English-language translation now sits in the Christ museum in Shingo. Apparently, the content of the documents came directly from the mouth of Jesus as he laid dying in the village. They were later transcribed, then re-transcribed, according to legend. But, in reality, the documents as seen in the museum today are the work of cosmoarcheologist Wado Kosaka. This is a man who would later make a name for himself by trying to summon aliens on live TV.
Every springtime, Shingo stages a Christ Festival. Women in kimonos dance around Jesus’ grave, singing in a mysterious language. “The lyrics of this song have a strange language that is not Japanese, and some people say that it’s based on Hebrew,” said Ryotaro, a tour guide to Shingo. The town has been staging this festival since 1964.