Jesus is, no doubt, history's most talked about figure. While, to many, Christ is a savior who died on the cross to forgive humanity's sins, there are some other theories surrounding what actually happened to the centerpiece of the Christian faith. Among the more bizarre notions is the allegation that he escaped Jerusalem and, thus, crucifixion, and headed to Shingo, Japan, where he worked as a rice farmer, had a family and died at the age of 114 (some say 106).
The "Japanese Jesus" tale, as The Huffington Post notes, is viewed by many as an absurdity, a hoax and a blasphemous variation of the truth. After all, it's widely divergent from the Bible's tale and, if true, it would literally turn the salvation story on its head. But -- interestingly -- despite having virtually no historical backing, the story actually has a following.
The BBC reported, in detail, about the theory in 2006, highlighting the fact that there's a "Grave of Christ" (known as "Kristo no Hakka" by locals) located in Japan -- and the site apparently attracts curious visitors from across the globe. The grave is located in the northern countryside of Japan, halfway up a mountain. Curiously, the spot is marked by a large, wooden cross -- an odd marker, considering that the theory is hinged upon the notion that Christ never actually perished on the cross.
According to local legend, one of Jesus' brothers took his place on the cross at Calvary. Then, this brother was somehow buried (at least parts of his body) by Jesus' side in Japan -- yet another theoretical construct that seems counter-intuitive, but is embraced by locals. OddityCentral.com adds:
So the story goes like this – Christ visited Japan between the ages of 21 and 33. Of course, this is conveniently supported by the fact that the Bible skips over large periods of Christ’s early life. He spent this time studying the native language and culture, before returning to Jerusalem. What about the Crucifixion, you ask? Well, it wasn’t Christ that was crucified at all. According to this theory, it was his younger brother Isukiri, who took his place on the cross. In the meantime, Christ fled to Siberia. After a few years, he traveled via Alaska and arrived at the port of Hachinohe, 40km from the village of Shingo.
All of this may be confusing, silly or just plain unfounded. But, The Huffington Post explains where the theory, which has been around for decades, originated:
In 1935, the legend goes, ancient documents were discovered by a Shinto priest that spelled out Jesus' activities in Japan's rural north.
According to the BBC, those documents have long since disappeared (a point which has given rise to innumerable conspiracy theories), though CNN believes local idiosyncrasies give credence to the legend.
Among those: Shingo used to be named "Herai," which is only one phoneme away from "Heburai," the Japanese word for "Hebrew." Also, adds CNN, a folk song indigenous to the region doesn't contain any Japanese words, and sounds an awful lot like Hebrew.
Perhaps of even more interest, the ancient documents purportedly led to the discovery of two tombs. One, according to ABC, is the grave site of Jesus. The other allegedly contains Jesus' brother's ears and a lock of The Blessed Virgin Mary's hair.
Below, watch one man's journey to the alleged Jesus tomb (he provides a detailed narration of the theory):
There's even a small museum nearby that provides even more information about the Japanese proposal on Jesus' life. Considering the small percentage of Christians in the country (past polls have shown the proportion to be around only six percent), the presence of such an odd, faith-based legend is fascinating.
Tourism stunt, silly fable -- or reality. You decide. Read more about the alleged Jesus tomb here.
(H/T: Huffington Post)