Because all the world originated in Japan, and everything great in the world returns to Japan eventually.
For two millennia the farming village of Shingo claims to have protected a tradition that Jesus spent most of his life in Japan. The village is the home of Sajiro Sawaguchi, a man in his eighties who claims to be a direct descendant of Jesus and whose family has always owned the land in which it is said that Christ is buried.
Mr Sawaguchi emerged as Jesus’s heir only in 1935, when a priest in Ibaraki discovered a document in ancient Japanese purporting to be Christ’s will. This document supposedly identifies Shingo as the location of the tombs of Jesus and Isukiri. The claim is widely believed. About 40,000 Japanese visit the site every year. Two years ago it was presented with a plaque by Jerusalem, and next Sunday [June 4] it will host the annual Christ festival of traditional Japanese dance.
According to the account in the Christ Museum next to the tombs, Christ arrived in Japan at the age of 21 and learnt Japanese before returning to Judaea 12 years later to engage in his mission and preach about the “holy land of Japan”. The official Shingo history is that Jesus’s place on the Cross was “casually” taken by his brother, leaving Christ free to return to Japan. On his return he fell in love with Miyuko, a local girl, and lived happily with his family among the rice fields until dying aged 106.
Here is some more information from Japan Today.
According to the local legend, Christ first came to Japan, aged 21, during the reign of the 11th emperor, Suinin, and landed at the port of Hashidate on the Japan Sea coast. Apparently, he settled in Etchu province where, under the tutelage of a great master, he studied Japanese language, literature and various other subjects. The Legend of Daitenku Taro Jurai (Daitenku Taro Jurai was the name Christ is said to have later taken) claims that at the end of his 11-year stay, Christ returned to Judea, aged 33, where he taught about the “sacred land” of Japan. But, unfortunately, “Christ’s teachings about Japan were considered too radical,” and he was condemned to death.
The New Testament teaches Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, rose from the dead after three days and later ascended into Heaven. However, according to the legend of Herai, Jesus escaped this fate, and instead his brother Isukiri was nailed to the cross and died. Christ, meanwhile, fled with his disciples and went into hiding, carrying locks of the Virgin Mary’s hair and his brother’s ear. After an arduous journey across Siberia, Christ finally returned to Japan and settled in Herai where he changed his name, married a Japanese woman called Miyuko, fathered three daughters and lived to the age of 106.
For the people of Herai too, the revelation that Christ is buried in their village came as a shock when documents claiming Jesus had resided in Japan were discovered in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1935. Said to be Christ’s will and testament and the proof that he had lived and died in Japan, the “Takenouchi documents” later proved to be fake. For years, many villagers felt that the shroud of mystery surrounding the large ancient tombs in a bamboo thicket had finally been lifted. The documents explained some of the village’s customs, such as marking a cross on the forehead of a child when it first leaves the home and why Sanjiro Sawaguchi, a village elder, had “blue eyes like a foreigner.”
This story seems to be rather old.
Sounds like this would be a fun vacation stop. Since it’s in northern Honshu, maybe Sean and I can hit it when I force him to go to Hakodate (Hokkaido). (He hates the cold, but I demand that he eat the best sushi in the world.)