"It's hard to imagine anyone, let alone Christ, would have schlepped out to one of the remotest parts of northern Japan in days of old, as even today it demands a great deal of effort to reach the village. Herai epitomizes the middle of nowhere. The place is little more than a lonely grocery store, a sprinkling of farmhouses and scraggly garlic fields and rice paddies blanketed with snow at this time of year."Local lore in Shingo explains that Jesus made two trips to the area. The first time was when he was a young man, and he apparently spent over a decade studying either theology or Japanese language and literature.
The legend further says that it wasn't actually Christ who was crucified, it was his brother. Jesus escaped with locks of the Virgin Mary's hair and the ear of his crucified brother. He travelled overland, through Siberia back to northern Japan. He returned to Herai where he became a rice farmer and married a Japanese woman. They had three daughters and Jesus lived to be well over 100 and died of natural causes. He was buried on the side of a mountain, in a simple grave that is today marked only by a wooden cross. The grave next to it is known as that of his brother, holding the relics of the brother's ear and Mary's hair.
Some people believe that this explains many things about the village, like why some people have blue eyes, or the local tradition of drawing a cross on the foreheads of newborns and their swaddling clothes embroidered with the Star of David, or even the original source of some local songs with lyrics that are eerily similar to Hebrew. But there are others, even the local man who is said to be a direct descendant of Jesus, who deny any truth to the legends. The village has no church or Christian population, but it does gain income from curious tourists (and it sure makes interesting blog fodder!!)