Legend – Japanese

A small town in Japan, known as Aomori claims to be home to the tomb of Jesus. The townspeople believe that Jesus left the Middle East when he was 32 and traveled with his brother, James, to India. In India the two studied religion with Indian monks and kept traveling through China into Aomori. There it is held that Jesus settled down and married a local woman. Together they had three daughters and spent the rest of their life there. It is believed that Jesus died in Aomori and on his tomb lays a lock of James’s hair.

Kevin, my brother’s roommate, has led a very international lifestyle and heard about this tomb when he was living in Japan. The tomb in Aomori is the only international tourist attraction in northern Japan and therefore it is well known throughout the country. To Christians and westerners this town legend seems blasphemous but in the town itself it is just an interesting old legend. A reporter from BBC investigated the story, interviewing the local people.

According to the legend Jesus escaped from Jerusalem and traveled across Russia and Serbia to Aomori where he became a rice farmer, married, had a family and died peacefully at the age of 114. It is also said that in the town there still is a descendent of Jesus himself.  The legend’s origins are also fairly recent. According to the article the legend began in the 1930s with the discovery of claimed ancient Hebrew documents that detailed Jesus’ life and death in Japan. However, these documents are now no where to be found and the town has never excavated the grave.

With these extra bits of information it can be speculated that this legend may infact be “fakelore.” It could be speculated that the entire story, tomb, and ancient house of Jesus that the town sells to tourists may only be a gimmick made up by the townspeople to draw in income. From Kevin’s interview and the article I gathered that the tomb is the entire region of Northern Japan’s claim to fame which is ironic because only 1% of Japan is officially Christian, however in an intervtiew with a Christian-Japanese priest had no qualms with the Aomori legend because it helps the people feel respect for Jesus in the Bible and shows that  “they are trying to make a connection with Jesus in some way.”  Perhaps any form of Christianity, despite its popular acceptance, is considered beneficial to the Japanese Christians and the Northern Japanese economy.


Bartlett, Duncan. “Japanese Jesus Trail.” BBC News (2006). 28 Apr. 2008 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/5326614.stm>.