By MB Online
With the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ just around the corner, his miracles of life, death and resurrection will once more be retold.
While it is generally accepted that he died in Jerusalem, pinpointing the exact place of his tomb continues to invite fascination and curiosity.
But perhaps the most outlandish is the claim that he did not die on the cross, and instead lived the rest of his life and died a natural death in a very faraway land—Japan.
Chris Broad, a Briton living in Japan, posted in his “Abroad in Japan” YouTube account a video of his travel to Shingo, a hamlet in Aomori prefecture where the “Tomb of Christ” is located.
Villagers have held on to the belief that Jesus died there. In the 1930s, manuscripts purportedly detailing Christ’s life in Japan were discovered.
A sign near the tombs summarizes the said biographical details. It said that Christ traveled to Japan at age 21, pursuing knowledge of divinity for 12 years.
But when he returned to Judea and was slammed for his preaching, the Romans arrested him and sentenced him to die on a cross.
He wasn’t crucified, though; his brother, which locals named Isukiri, took his place in the crucifixion.
Christ “went through the ups and downs of travel, and again came to Japan,” Chris Broad read. “He settled right here in what is now called Herai Village, and died at the age of 106.”
Legend has it that Jesus made his way across Russia and Siberia to Aomori, where he became a rice farmer, got married, had a family and died peacefully.
Broad dropped by the two burial mounds with giant crosses on top. Jesus’ mound has a Japanese “thank you” inscription below.
A stone written in Hebrew was dedicated beside the tomb of Jesus in 2004 by the municipality of Jerusalem as a testimony of friendship among Shingo, Jerusalem and the State of Israel.
The other mound, which Broad noted for being bare, is said to contain an ear of Isukiri and a lock of hair from Mary, mother of Christ.
Locals tend to the memorials; in the village’s annual summer festival, they would dance to a song supposedly in Hebrew.
While the travel failed to answer the question of how and why the Son of God preferred to come to the Land of the Rising Sun, Broad tried to contextualize how the distance of Shingo with the rest of Japan may have reinforced this belief.
He said those buried in the mounds may have been 16th century missionaries who arrived in Japan. Christian evangelists proliferated in Japan in the 1500s until the faith was suppressed by the shogunate in 1614, with those refusing to abandon the faith tortured or executed. It was also the time when Japan closed to the outside world.
This forced Japanese Christians to go underground and scatter around the country until freedom of religion returned along with the Meiji restoration—the period when Japan reopened to the West and ushered in a period of rapid industrialization.
At present, the site where Church of the Holy Sepulchre now stands is widely accepted to contain Calvary or Golgotha—the hill where Jesus was crucified—as well as the empty cave where He was buried and resurrected.
But there are other claimants, such as the Garden Tomb and Talpiot Tomb in Jerusalem.
A Muslim community in Kashmir, India, meanwhile, also believes the Roza Bal shrine there is where Jesus was interred, a claim Sunni Muslims consider blasphemous.
While Jesus may have taken years to get to Shingo, a bullet train from Tokyo can whisk tourists within three hours to Hachinohe, the port where Christ supposedly arrived. From there, a local train takes passengers to Sannohe, the nearest station to the graves in rural Shingo.