The Grave of Jesus in Shingo, Aomori, Japan

The Japanese Village Where Jesus Supposedly Died, Aged 106

The Japanese Village Where Jesus Supposedly Died, Aged 106

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 26 2014 11:08 AM

Jesus in Japan: The Dodgy Documents that Reimagine Christ's Life

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Remember the part at the end of the Bible where Jesus sneakily avoided crucifixion and headed to Japan to become a rice farmer? And who could forget how his younger brother ended up being crucified instead, in a case of the old switch-a-roo?

Okay, so that stuff's not in the Bible — it's in the Takenouchi Documents, an apocryphal set of ancient religious texts "found" by a group of Japanese archeologists in the 1930s. According to the documents, Jesus had a brother named Isukiri, who surreptitiously swapped places with Christ after he was captured by the Romans. Isukiri died on the cross, while Jesus escaped to northern Japan, acquired a wife and three daughters, and died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 106.


All of this explains why there's a mound of dirt in the small Japanese village of Shingo marked "Grave of Jesus Christ." A sign beside the grave gives a bit more background info, including the dozen years Jesus apparently spent hanging out in Japan as a young man:

When Jesus Christ was 21 years old, he came to Japan and pursued knowledge of divinity for 12 years. He went back to Judea at age 33 and engaged in his mission. However, at that time, people in Judea would not accept Christ's preaching. Instead, they arrested him and tried to crucify him on a cross.

The business with his self-sacrificing bro was supposedly pretty low-key:

His younger brother, Isukiri casually took Christ's place and ended his life on the cross.

Beside Jesus' grave is an identical mound that is said to contain one of Isukiri's ears, as well as a lock of hair swiped from the Virgin Mary.

Conveniently, the original Takenouchi Documents were destroyed during World War II. Shingo's Legend of Christ Museum, however, displays a replica. In addition to describing Jesus' second coming as a rice farmer, the documents describe the fate of Atlantis and detail humanity's extraterrestrial origins.

Jesus Christ, superstar:

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.