Weird Legend of Jesus in Japan

ByABC News
January 9, 2001, 7:40 AM

Jan. 23 -- In the remote mountains of northern Japan sits a strange little town with an even stranger story.

Its a story of Jesus Christ, and it goes a little something like this: Jesus didnt die up on his cross at Golgotha. That was his brother. Christ himself fled across Siberia and, after a brief detour through Alaska, landed in Japan where he got married and raised a family.

The town, Shingo, calls itself Kirisuto no Sato: Hometown of Christ.

Not many burgs outside of Bethlehem make that claim.

Today, Shingo is known more for its garlic farms (they even make garlic ice cream there) and apple orchards than the Tomb of Christ that is, if it were to be known for anything at all (its not).

The site itself, a few minutes drive from the towns tiny commercial district, is rather unspectacular. Two 8-foot-high wooden crosses surrounded by a white picket fence sit on a bluff in the woods overlooking a gravel parking lot. A small museum sits at the other side of the parking lot.

On a typical day, dozens of people wander through. Some leave a small offering five-yen coins, considered lucky, are common in a basket at the gravesite. Some even pray.

The idea of Jesus visiting, much less settling down in, Japans equivalent of the Ozarks may sound patently absurd. Even many locals doubt the tale. But some residents of Shingo say its entirely plausible that the man many call Messiah came here, and claim they can prove it.

An Ancient Scroll and a Remarkable Tale

In the years leading up to World War II, ancient scrolls turned up in the hands of a Shinto priest just outside of Tokyo. They pertained to two small, forgotten graves in the remote mountains of northern Honshu, the main island of Japan

The scrolls written in a Japanese so archaic that only experts can read it recount the unlikely tale of Christs escape from death, and were purportedly written or at least dictated by Jesus himself as his last will and testament. Call it the Last Testament.