Shingo, a tiny farming community in Japan, claims that Jesus raised a familythere, and they say they can prove it. They call themselves Kirisuto noSato, meaning “Hometown of Christ.”

There are legends from sources like the Knights Templar of Jesus and hisfamily escaping to France after he was taken down from the cross stillalive, but the Japanese legend is unknown in the West. In this version,Jesus fled across Siberia, detoured through Alaska, and finally ended up inJapan.

Two 8-foot-high crosses sit next to a small museum in the town, which housesa glass case containing a copy of an ancient scroll, said to be the proof ofthis claim. Just before World War II, some ancient scrolls were discoveredby a Shinto priest who lived just outside of Tokyo. They told about twoforgotten graves in the remote mountains of northern Japan.

The scrolls were written in archaic Japanese that can only be read byscholars, and told the story of Jesus’ escape. When the priest realized whatthe scrolls claimed, he consulted Banzan Toya, a researcher of ancientJapanese history. Together, they located the graves on the ancestral land ofthe Sawaguchi family, whose tradition said that the burial sites must not bedisturbed, although no one could explain why.

According to the scrolls, one tomb holds the ears of Jesus’ brother, Isukiriand a lock of his mother Mary’s hair, while Jesus himself is in the othertomb. They say that during his “lost” years, Jesus traveled to Japan forspiritual training, then returned there after the crucifixion. He supposedlychanged his name to Daitenku Taro Jurai, lived to be 106, and had 3daughters. The original scrolls were lost during the war but a copy survivesin the museum.

While the story isn’t believable, it does indicate that a mystic or ancientprophet may be buried in one of the tombs. Archaeologists have confirmedthat a very old crypt does exist at the burial site.

Meanwhile, Shingo has become a Japanese version of Lourdes, with gift shopscarrying Jesus coasters, Jesus thermometers and even “Kirisuto no Sato”sake. They hold a yearly festival, where dancers perform at the gravesiteand sing in a language no one understands, which is supposed to be a form ofancient Hebrew..”Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not,” says one local. “It’s a legend.”

The local priest, Father Marcel, tries to find the humor in the situation.”I see it as a joke: ‘Christ died in my parish.'”

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