May 29, 2006
Land of the rising son
Except in this version of the myth, he didn’t exactly rise:
In a paddy-lined valley in the far north of Japan is a municipal signpost inscribed: “Tomb of Christ: next left.”
Follow the winding path up into the forest and there, sure enough, is a simple mound with a large wooden cross labelled as the grave of Jesus. Nearby is a tomb commemorating Isukiri, Christ’s brother, adorned with a plastic poinsettia Christmas wreath.
For two millennia the farming village of Shingo claims to have protected a tradition that Jesus spent most of his life in Japan. The village is the home of Sajiro Sawaguchi, a man in his eighties who claims to be a direct descendant of Jesus and whose family has always owned the land in which it is said that Christ is buried.
Mr Sawaguchi emerged as Jesus’s heir only in 1935, when a priest in Ibaraki discovered a document in ancient Japanese purporting to be Christ’s will. This document supposedly identifies Shingo as the location of the tombs of Jesus and Isukiri. The claim is widely believed. About 40,000 Japanese visit the site every year.
… According to the account in the Christ Museum next to the tombs, Christ arrived in Japan at the age of 21 and learnt Japanese before returning to Judaea 12 years later to engage in his mission and preach about the “holy land of Japan”. The official Shingo history is that Jesus’s place on the Cross was “casually” taken by his brother, leaving Christ free to return to Japan. On his return he fell in love with Miyuko, a local girl, and lived happily with his family among the rice fields until dying aged 106.
The grave’s upkeep is apparently supported by the profits of a local yoghurt factory.
TrackBack URL for this entry: