Key to the Sacred Pattern

02 July 2006

Japan, Jesus, and the Grail

MSN Mainichi via Playboy Weekly (thus proving that, if not truth, fodder for the Grail Seeker’s hunt is truly scattered…) reported on 9 Jun 06 on Japan’s bid for a Grail tradition. The full article can be found HERE. The bad thing is there is no real substance to article. Lore of a lost treasure, a second coming of a messiah, and banners showing the cup of Jesus are interesting; but not the stuff of Grail tradition. When one links this information with other Christian traditions in Japan, an unusual pattern emerges.

Japan has a long standing Christian community that calls itself the Kakure Kirishitan, or Hidden Christians. According to history, Christianity was first introduced in 1549 by missionary Frances Xavier. ( If you’re looking for the Cliff’s Notes version of how Christianity came to Japan, the New York Times did a good piece in 1997 that can be found HERE ) It would seem that the Hidden Christians were persecuted by the country’s Buddhist and Shinto, lost their revolt, and went further underground. End of story… I would have thoughts to if it were not for this. There are some traditions that link Japan with early Judeo-Christian persons and events.

The first two are that the Ark of the Covenant resides now in Japan and the lost tribe of Israel settled there. For purposes of this article, I’m not going to delve into these theories. (If you’re interested the above links will take you to articles that illuminate the subjects.) However, the traditions do exist and lend an amount of plausibility to the Grail side of the story.

Grail Seeker point of logic: Where traditions exist, there is one of these reasons for their existence.

  1. The tradition is as true to the situations/conditions described as possible. Oddly enough this is the hardest to prove. In most instances this is hard to believe that any tradition, in any social group, does not mutate some. Tiny deviances in a tradition’s factual basis can sometimes cast a shadow over its’ validity. The other issue with totally true traditions is that why should evidence be preserved to verify a story that a society knows is “true”? The best example here is one most of us have seen in real life. You walk into a bar one night and talk to someone expounding on their military service record. Most of what this person says is basically true. The person did serve in the military and all of his basic facts are correct. But, the introduction of alcohol into the situation creates variations in otherwise true events.
  2. The tradition is totally false and was invented by someone with an agenda. . Whether the reason was to sell a bill of goods to social group or for the “greater good”, it doesn’t matter. The only good thing about totally false tradition is that it may be able to be totally disproved, and thus discarded for any logical considerations. Take the case of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. Every school child in America would tell you that this story is totally true. The truth is that Mason Locke Weems invented this story for a biography of Washington. Since there was no reason to doubt Weems account, the story has stood almost to this day as a valid American tradition.
  3. The tradition is a mixture of the above statements. This one really stinks for us looking to the past for answers. Oral traditions get muddled, names change spellings, authors own prejudices obscure some facts and shine on others, and are all reasons for fact and error to mix. It is then a most difficult job to pull apart the fact from the errors. This is especially true when two groups of people merge. Either through misunderstanding of the other’s language or culture, or divergent evolution the groups tales get interwoven.

The Japanese Christian tradition that dovetails on the 9 June 06 MSN Mainichi article is that Jesus actually resided in Japan. The village of Shingo claims that Jesus, and his brother, are entombed there. According to village tradition, at the age of 21 Jesus traveled to Japan and returned to Judea 12 years later. Events then unfolded as per the Gospel accounts, with the exception that he escaped crucifixion. Jesus’ brother Isukuri took his place on the cross in Jerusalem. Jesus then fled back to Japan, married there and eventually died there at the age of 106.

In 1935, Sajiro Sawaguchi, a native Shingoite claimed to be a descendant of Jesus. (For a complete article on this topic visit HERE.) Supposedly, Mr. Sawaguchi had documents proving that his blood line claim was factual. These documents were destroyed in WWII and exist only in second hand form. There is a copy of this document in Shingo today. The tradition of Jesus living in Japan is long standing and should be far removed from the influences of Western Traditions. I have seen references on the web that link Kakure Kirishitan oral history to the above story. I am hesitant to even mention this because I can in no way verify this fact. I do know that there is a Hidden Christian holy text: The Beginning Heaven and Earth. Having to keep their faith underground, their sacred thoughts were not in writing until recently. These links exist between Shingo and the Hidden Christians exist, could the “treasure” of the Hidden Christians have a Grail implication?

It is interesting that the Shingo legends have the ring of some of the Gnostic Gospels. Those that subscribe to the “Underground Stream of Knowledge” being the Grail this raises questions of how was the Gnostic influence introduced into early Japanese Christianity? Was it through a source prior to the 1549 missionary trip of Frances Xavier, or was it through one of Xavier’s party for their own ends? Or is there no link at all to Gnostic thought and the similarities are due to divergent evolution?

Those of you out there that lean towards the Holy Blood, Holy Grail line of thinking have just to transpose Japan with the south of France for all of your questions this raises.

As usual, there are no answers. Just a pile of questions and abstract Grail thoughts.

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