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How Did One of the Lost Tribes end up in Japan: Shinto Mirrors Judaism


By Arimasa Kubo

Many of the traditional ceremonies in Japan seem to be the traces that the Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel came to ancient Japan.

A Japanese Festival Illustrates the Story of Isaac.

In Nagano prefecture, Japan, there is a large Shinto shrine named “Suwa-Taisha” (Shinto is the traditional religion peculiar to Japan.) At Suwa-Taisha, the traditional festival called “Ontohsai” is held on April 15 every year. This festival illustrates the story of Isaac in chapter 22 of Genesis in the Bible, that is, the story that Abraham was about to sacrifice his own son Isaac. The festival “Ontohsai” has been held since ancient days and has been thought of as the most important festival of “Suwa-Taisha.”

Next to the shrine “Suwa-Taisha,” there is a mountain called Mt. Moriya (“Moriya-san” in Japanese). And the people from the Suwa area call the god of Mt. Moriya “Moriya no kami” which means “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, but then a messenger (another priest) comes there, and the boy is released. It reminds us of the story that Isaac was released after an angel comes to Abraham.

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 ears split. The deer is believed to be the one God prepared. It may have some connection with the ram that God prepared and was sacrificed after Isaac was released. Even in historic times, people thought that this custom of deer sacrifice was strange, because animal sacrifice is not a Shinto tradition.

People call this festival “the festival for Misakuchi-god”. “Misakuchi” might be “mi-isaku-chi.” “Mi” means “great,” “isaku” is probably 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.

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