October 15, 2010
In the first half of the 1930s in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo, Japan; Mr Kyomaro Takeuchi, the youngest in a long line of Shinto priests, discovered a set of documents in his family library. These documents, later named the “Takenouchi documents”, were written in ancient Japanese and appeared to be the testament of Jesus Christ’s life and death in Japan.
According to the remarkable manuscripts Jesus first travelled to Japan at the age of 21, during the reign of the 11th emperor, Suinin, and landed at the port of Hashidate on the Japan Sea coast. He is then said to have settled in Etchu province (now Toyama Prefecture) where he studied Japanese and theology before returning to Judea 12 years later at the age of 33.
After being sentenced to die on the cross Jesus apparently switched places with his brother, Isukiri, who died in his place, while Jesus fled with his disciples and went into hiding, carrying locks of the Virgin Mary’s hair and his brother’s ear. He then travelled across Siberia, Alaska, and finally to what is now Aomori prefecture in northern Japan before settling in the village of Herai. Changing his name to Daitenku Taro Jurai, Christ became a farmer, married a local Japanese woman named Miyuko, and together they had three daughters. Although not performing any miracles during his time in Japan, Christ is said to have saved the villagers from starvation by travelling a great distance to get them food. He eventually died peacefully at the age of 106.
Following the discovery of these documents Takeuchi travelled to Herai with artist and researcher in ancient Japanese history Banzan Toya, where on May 26th, 1935 they discovered two ancient graves hidden away in a bamboo grove.
The graves (Juraizuka – Jesus’ tomb and Judaibo – containing the ear of Jesus’ brother and the lock of Mary’s hair) had been tended to for generations by the Sawaguchi family, local garlic farmers, who knew only that they contained very important remains but had no idea of who. The Sawaguchis are said to be the descendants of Christ, most famously a village elder, Sanjiro Sawaguchi, who has blue eyes and unusually western features. Junichiro Sawaguchi, grandson of Sanjiro, said in a recent interview:
“I don’t claim to be a descendent of Jesus although I know some people have said my grandfather is connected to the legend. However, when I was a young child, my mother drew the sign of a cross upon my forehead as a symbol of good fortune”
The sign of the cross, drawn in black ink on the head of a child when it first leaves the home, is just one of many local customs that are suggestive of Christo-Judaic influence. Other examples include wrapping newborns in cloth embroidered with the Star of David (a 5 pointed star also features as an emblem of the Sawaguchi family) as well as an ancient song, the meaning of which has been long forgotten, that locals say is more suggestive of Hebrew than Japanese:
Naniyaa dorayayo (ナニヤアドラヤヨ)
Naniyaa donasare inokie (ナニヤアドナサレイノキエ)
Naniyaa doyarayo (ナニヤアドラヤヨ)
The name of the village, Herai (renamed Shingo in 1955), is said to be derived from the word Hebrai, meaning Hebrew in Japanese.
The Takenouchi documents were so controversial that they were seized by the Japanese authorities and taken to a Tokyo museum shortly before World War II where they were hidden from the public. The documents were lost in the confusion of the war, allegedly destroyed when the museum that contained them was bombed, but not before a copy was made that can still be seen on display in the village of Shingo.
The graves today are a popular local tourist spot, marked by two large wooden crosses, and pilgrims often leave coins in front of the grave in thanks for answered prayers