However questionable it may sound, as it runs counter to the much revered holy text of the New Testament, there is a Japanese legend that attempts to prove that it was not Jesus Christ who died for the sake of humanity, but his brother, who had allegedly vowed to swap places with Christ.
The myth started to make rounds in the island nation after farmer Sajiro Sawaguchi stumbled upon ancient texts, the so-called Takeuchi documents, in Aomori in northern Japan in the 1930s. More than 2,000 years ago, the Takeuchi (Takenouchi) documents were rewritten by Takenouchino Matori (Hegurimo Matori) into modern Japanese characters Kana mixed with Chinese characters, according to takenouchi-documents.com, whereas the original documents were believed to have been written in divine characters. The artefacts were destroyed during World War II, but reproductions are on display at the Jesus Museum.
The documents studied and depicted in a book by arheologist and author Kosaka Wado, allege that upon learning about Christ’s looming execution on the cross, his brother, Isukiri, vowed to be crucified instead, after which the pair pledged that Jesus would flee to Japan where he had previously studied theology during his so-dubbed 12 silent years. The texts go on to say that before setting out for his adoptive homeland, Jesus came up to his brother’s body after he died on Golgotha and cut off his ear as a keepsake.
When back in Japan, Jesus met a local woman named Miyuko in Aomori and the couple had three daughters before he died aged 106. His body and Isukiri’s ear are presumed to have been then taken up to a hill in the nearby Shingo village and buried in two separate mounds: one was dedicated to Christ and the other – to his brother, the one who made the ultimate sacrifice to redeem the sins of mankind.
Since neither grave has been ever excavated, Christians have disregarded the claims that Christ could have been buried on Japanese soil, let alone the assumption that his brother was crucified instead of him. However, there are many who believe in the legend and even join annual celebrations of the life of Isukiri and his Jewish brother Christ.
Despite the dubious reputation of farmer Sawaguchi, who undug the documents on his plot of land claiming he was a direct descendent of Jesus, dozens of worshippers regard the claims made in the Takeuchi documents as plausible, performing a special ritual by moving around the mounds, eating, and chatting while listening to songs about the Son of God on the first Sunday of June. On top of this, Shinto priests of Japan’s domineering spirit and family-based religion can also be seen performing their ritual prayers on the spot at this time.