Did Jesus Die in Japan?

According to orthodox Christian tradition, Jesus of Nazareth died at the age of 33, executed by the Roman governor at the insistence of Jewish authorities, rising from the dead after three days before finally being taken bodily to Heaven. Most of what was written about Him deals with the three years of His ministry; very little is known about His childhood and early adulthood. Nonetheless, rumors and folklore from around the world have claimed for centuries that Jesus traveled to various parts of Europe and Asia, learning from scholars and philosophers before returning to Judea to launch His brief ministry. The Mormons even believe that Jesus visited North America after His resurrection!

The most incredible claim of all (and that’s saying something) comes from the small town of Shingo (formerly Herai) in Japan, which maintains that Jesus not only escaped crucifixion, but actually traveled across Asia, finally settling in Herai, where He fathered several children, invented the Japanese phonetic alphabet (katakana), and died at the ripe old age of 106. You can even visit His grave today!

An ancient text, allegedly discovered in 1935, tells the story of Jesus in Japan. The original scrolls were supposedly so controversial that they were confiscated by authorities before being obliterated by American bombing in WWII. (The copies still exist, of course, and can be viewed today.)

Even more astonishing are the claims that a traditional folk song is thinly-disguised Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) and that locals refer to their parents as Ada (Adam) and Eva (Eve). The crest of the Sawaguchi family (whose cemetery contains the gravesite of Jesus, plus another grave containing His brother’s ears and a lock of the Virgin Mary’s hair) is a five-pointed star, which is said to mimic the six-pointed Star of David.

A critical look at the evidence presented casts some serious doubts on these claims (not the least of which is that there is no corroborating evidence dating before 1935). Nonetheless, further exploration could be fascinating and entertaining.  

[Originally posted in April 2000 at SciFiDimensions.com]

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