By: Ringo Bones
If all of this were supported by historical facts, then the so-called “Japanese Jesus” site could be one of the safest of the so-called “Holy-Land Tour” destinations tours given that Jerusalem has been hard to get into by the casual “Jesus Tourist” since the establishment of the State of the Israel and the resulting conflict with the local Palestinians. And the recent Syrian Civil War has since denied access to the other Syrian holy sites frequented by Jesus and his disciples during their heyday not to mention Turkish holy-land sites are getting increasing hard to get to by the casual “Jesus Tourist”, it seems that the remote Japanese hamlet of Shingo is the safest holy-land tour / Jesus Tourism Tour destination at present.
Although unsubstantiated tales of Jesus Christ surviving the crucifixion and living out the rest of his days in either the South of France and / or present-day Austria are the most popular, tales about Jesus living out the rest of his days in some remote mountain hamlet in Northern Japan – though relatively unknown – seems to have gained scholarly credibility in recent years. The tales of the so-called “Japanese Jesus” or “Ninja Jesus” turning mountain spring water directly into sake have nonetheless had its adherents, although of it becoming into the next popular Japanese Anime series and / or Hollywood blockbuster seems unlikely, evidence pointing to the existence of the so-called Japanese Jesus seems to hard to ignore.
The legend goes that on the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of Northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko and fathered three kids and died at a ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he’s remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai – the rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ.
A bucolic backwater with only one Christian resident – an elderly man named Toshiko Sato, who was 77 years old when Smithsonian Magazine contributor Franz Lidz last visited him during the spring of 2012 – and no Christian church within 30 miles, the remote Japanese hamlet of Shingo nevertheless bills itself as Kirisuto no Sato (Christ’s Hometown). Every year 20,000 or so pilgrims and pagans visit the site, which is maintained by a nearby yogurt factory. Some visitors shell-out the 100-yen entrance fee at the Legend of Christ Museum – a trove of religious relics that sells everything from Jesus coasters to coffee mugs. Some participate in the so-called Springtime Christian Festival, which is a mash-up of multidenominational rites in which kimono-clad women dance around the twin graves and chant a three-line litany in an unknown language. The ceremony, designed to console the spirit of Jesus, has been staged by the local tourism bureau since 1964.