friends in the world,
I am a Japanese writer living in Japan. As I study the Bible, I
began to realize that many traditional customs and ceremonies in
Japan are very similar to the ones of ancient Israel. I considered
that perhaps these rituals came from the religion and customs of
the Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who might have come to
The following sections are concerned with those Japanese traditions
which possibly originated from the ancient Israelites.
The reason why I exhibit these on the Internet is to enable anyone
interested in this subject, especially Jewish friends to become
more interested, research it for yourself, and share your findings.
Came To Ancient Japan
Many of the traditional ceremonies in Japan seem to indicate that
the Lost Tribes of Israel came to ancient Japan.
Ark of the covenant of Israel (left) and "Omikoshi" ark of Japan
In Nagano prefecture, Japan, there is a large Shinto shrine named
"Suwa-Taisha" (Shinto is the national traditional religion peculiar
At Suwa-Taisha, the traditional festival called "Ontohsai" is held
on April 15 every year (When the Japanese used the lunar calendar
it was March-April). This festival illustrates the story of Isaac
in chapter 22 of Genesis in the Bible - when Abraham was about to
sacrifice his own son, Isaac. The "Ontohsai" festival, held since
ancient days, is judged to be the most important festival of "Suwa-Taisha."
The "Suwa-Taisha" shrine
At the back of the shrine "Suwa-Taisha," there is a mountain called
Mt. Moriya ("Moriya-san" in Japanese). The people from the Suwa
area call the god of Mt. Moriya "Moriya no kami," which means, the
"god of Moriya." This shrine is built to worship the "god of Moriya."
At the festival, a boy is tied up by a rope to a wooden pillar,
and placed on a bamboo carpet. A Shinto priest comes to him preparing
a knife, and he cuts a part of the top of the wooden pillar, but
then a messenger (another priest) comes there, and the boy is released.
This is reminiscent of the Biblical story in which Isaac was released
after an angel came to Abraham.
The knife and sword used in the "Ontohsai" festival
At this festival, animal sacrifices are also offered. 75 deer are
sacrificed, but among them it is believed that there is a deer with
its ear split. The deer is considered to be the one God prepared.
It could have had some connection with the ram that God prepared
and was sacrificed after Isaac was released. Since the ram was caught
in the thicket by the horns, the ear might have been split.
In ancient time of Japan there were no sheep and it might be the
reason why they used deer (deer is Kosher). Even in historic times,
people thought that this custom of deer sacrifice was strange, because
animal sacrifice is not a Shinto tradition.
My friend went to Israel and saw a Passover festival on Mt. Gerizim
in Samaria. He asked a Samaritan priest how many rams were offered.
The priest answered that they used to offer 75. This may have a
connection with the 75 deer which were offered at Suwa-Taisha shrine
Abraham and Isaac
People call this festival "the festival for Misakuchi-god". "Misakuchi"
might be "mi-isaku-chi." "Mi" means "great," "isaku" is most likely
Isaac (the Hebrew word "Yitzhak"), and "chi" is something for the
end of the word. It seems that the people of Suwa made Isaac a god,
probably by the influence of idol worshipers.
Today, this custom of the boy about to be sacrificed and then released,
is no longer practiced, but we can still see the custom of the wooden
pillar called "oniye-basira," which means, "sacrifice-pillar."
The "oniye-bashira" on which the boy is supposed to be tied up
Currently, people use stuffed animals instead of performing a real
animal sacrifice. Tying a boy along with animal sacrifice was regarded
as savage by people of the Meiji-era (about 100 years ago), and
those customs were discontinued. However, the festival itself still
The custom of the boy had been maintained until the beginning of
Meiji era. Masumi Sugae, who was a Japanese scholar and a travel
writer in the Edo era (about 200 years ago), wrote a record of his
travels and noted what he saw at Suwa. The record shows the details
of "Ontohsai." It tells that the custom of the boy about to be sacrificed
and his ultimate release, as well as animal sacrifices that existed
those days. His records are kept at the museum near Suwa-Taisha.
The festival of "Ontohsai" has been maintained by the Moriya family
ever since ancient times. The Moriya family think of "Moriya-no-kami"
(god of Moriya) as their ancestor's god. They also consider "Mt.
Moriya" as their holy place. The name, "Moriya," could have come
from "Moriah" (the Hebrew word "Moriyyah") of Genesis 22:2, that
is today's Temple Mount of Jerusalem. Among Jews, God of Moriah
means the one true God whom the Bible teaches.
The Moriya family have been hosting the festival for 78 generations.
And the curator of the museum said to me that the faith in the god
of Moriya had existed among the people since the time of B.C.E.
Apparently, no other country but Japan has a festival illustrating
the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. This tradition appears
to provide strong evidence that the ancient Israelites came to ancient
Japanese Religious Priests "Yamabushi" Put A Black Box on their
Foreheads Just As Jews Put A Phylactery on their Foreheads.
"Yamabushi" is a religious man in training unique to Japan. Today,
they are thought to belong to Japanese Buddhism. However, Buddhism
in China, Korea and India have no such custom. The custom of "yamabushi"
existed in Japan before Buddhism was imported into Japan in the
On the forehead of "Yamabushi," he puts a black small box called
a "tokin", which is tied to his head with a black cord. He greatly
resembles a Jew putting on a phylactery (black box) on his forehead
with a black cord. The size of this black box "tokin" is almost
the same as the Jewish phylactery, but its shape is round and flower-like.
A "yamabushi" with a "tokin" blowing a horn
the Jewish phylactery placed on the forehead seems to have come
from the forehead "plate" put on the high priest Aaron with a cord
(Exodus 28:36-38). It was about 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) in size
according to folklore, and some scholars maintain that it was flower-shaped.
If so, it was very similar to the shape of the Japanese "tokin"
worn by the "yamabushi".
A Jew with a phylactery blowing a shofar
Israel and Japan are the only two countries that in the world I
know of that use of the black forehead box for religious purpose.
Furthermore, the "yamabushi" use a big seashell as a horn. This
is very similar to Jews blowing a shofar or ram's horn. The way
it is blown and the sounds of the "yamabushi's" horn are very similar
to those of a shofar. Because there are no sheep in Japan, the "yamabushi"
had to use seashell horns instead of rams' horns.
"Yamabushis" are people who regard mountains as their holy places
for religious training. The Israelites also regarded mountains as
their holy places. The Ten Commandments of the Torah were given
on Mt. Sinai. Jerusalem is a city on a mountain.
In Japan, there is the legend of "Tengu" who lives on a mountain
and has the figure of a "yamabushi". He has a pronounced nose and
supernatural capabilities. A "ninja", who was an agent or spy in
the old days, while working for his lord, goes to "Tengu" at the
mountain to get from him supernatural abilities. "Tengu" gives him
a "tora-no-maki" (a scroll of the "tora") after giving him additional
powers. This "scroll of the tora" is regarded as a very important
book which is helpful for any crisis. Japanese use this word sometimes
in their current lives.
There is no knowledge that a real scroll of a Jewish Torah was ever
found in a Japanese historical site. However, it appears this "scroll
of the tora" is a derivation of the Jewish Torah.
Ten Tribes in Japan - Part 2