When Steve heard that there was a tomb of Jesus in Japan he felt that was too amazing to skip. His colleague in the Religious Studies department felt the same way, so we took a road trip to Shingo in the north of Japan. Sarah, John’s daughter came along with us.
|The Museum at the tomb of Jesus|
At the site that we visited were two large burial spots with fences around them and big wooden crosses on top. According to the legend Jesus brought Isikiri’s (his brother’s) ear with him when he returned and so Isikiri has a grave also. The people in the area have always been a little different than the rest of Japan, so they think that maybe they were one of the lost tribes of Israel.
The story did not come about until 1930 when ‘international archaeologists’ found a scroll which was Jesus’ will (written in Japanese). The original document was destroyed in WWII, but they have a copy in their museum. It was signed Jesus Christ, Father of Christmas.
An article in the Smithsonian online suggests that this has very little to do with Christianity. It has more to do with Japanese acceptance of religion. The Japanese are remarkably tolerant and soak up all sorts of influences.
It left me with a feeling of questioning and curiosity. This monument is very well taken care of and has a small museum that employs someone to take tickets and sell trinkets and obviously with some very effective landscapers. Clearly, more money is spent in keeping it up than they take in with modest entrance fees (about $1) and the sales of various items. I guess the whole story promotes the town and so whether it is true or not it has become important for them. In the article it says that a local yogurt company sponsors the site. It could be that they benefit from the added tourism the site provides.