ISRAELITES CAME TO JAPAN
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
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
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.
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."
Today, 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. But the festival itself still remains today.
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, existed in 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. And they think of "Mt. Moriya"
as their holy place. The name "Moriya" may have come from "Moriah" (the
Hebrew word "Moriyyah") of Genesis 22:2.
The Moriya family have been hosting the festival for 78 generations.
The festival of Ontohsai must have existed since ancient times.
I am not aware of any country, other than Japan, which has a festival
illustrating the story of Isaac. I believe that this tradition provides
strong evidence that the Israelites came to ancient Japan.
The Crest of the Imperial House of Japan Is the Same As That Found
On Gates of Jerusalem.
The crest of the Imperial House of Japan is a round mark in the shape
of a flower with 16 petals (photo right). Today's shape looks like a
chrysanthemum (mum), but scholars say that in ancient times, it rather
looked like a sunflower. This is indeed the same shape as the mark at
Herod's gate in Jerusalem. The crest at Herod's gate also has 16 petals
This crest of the Imperial House of Japan has existed since very
ancient times, as well as Herod's gate.
The Star of David Is A Symbol Also Used At Ise-jingu, the Shinto
Shrine for the Imperial House of Japan.
Ise-jingu in Mie-pref., Japan, is the Shinto shrine built for the
Imperial House of Japan. On both sides of the approaches to the shrine,
there are street lamps made of stone. You can see the Jewish Star of
David carved on each of the lamps near the top.
The crest used on the inside of the shrine (Izawa-no-miya) at
Ise-jingu is also the Star of David. This has existed since ancient
In Kyoto pref., there is a shrine called "Manai-jinja" which was the
original Ise-jingu Shrine. The crest of "Manai-jinja" is also the Star
of David. So, this has been used since ancient times.
I heard that the Star of David had been discovered at a Jewish
synagogue of the third century in Europe, too.
Japanese Religious Priests "Yamabushi" Put A Black Box on their
Foreheads Just As Jews Put A Phylactery on their Foreheads.
"Yamabushi"s are religious men in training and are unique to Japan.
Today, they are thought to belong to Japanese Buddhism. But the Buddhism
in China, Korea, or India have no such custom. The custom of "yamabushi"
has existed in Japan before Buddhism was imported into Japan in the
The clothes worn by the "yamabushi" are basically white. On his
forehead, he puts a black small box called a "tokin", which is tied to
his head with a black cord. He really 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
the shape of the "tokin" is round and looks like a flower.
Originally 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 the folklore, and some scholars say that this was in the
shape of a flower. If so, it was very similar to the shape of the
Japanese "tokin" worn by the "yamabushi".
Israel and Japan are the only two countries that in the world I know
of that use the forehead box.
Furthermore, the "Yamabushi" use a big seashell as a horn. This is
very similar to a Jew blowing a shofar, or ram's horn. The way it is
blown, sounds of the yamabushi's horn are very much like a shofar. And
there are no sheep in Japan, the "Yamabushi" had to use seashell horns
instead of rams' horns.
"Yamabushi"s are people who regard mountains as their holy places for
religious training. The people of Israel 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. Jesus (Yeshua) used to climb
up the mountain to pray there. His transfiguration also occurred on a
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. We Japanese use this word sometimes in our daily life even
We do not have any knowledge that a real scroll of a Jewish Torah was
ever found in a Japanese historical site. But I can't help but think
that this "scroll of the tora" is a usage of the holy book called
"Torah", used by Jews to this day.
Japanese "Omikoshi" Resembles the Ark of the Covenant.
In the Bible, in First Chronicles chapter 15, it is written that
David brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord into Jerusalem.
"David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a
thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the
house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. ...Now David was clothed in a robe
of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as
were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the
choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark
of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams'
horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps."
When I read these passages, I think; "How well does this look like
the scene of Japanese people carrying our 'omikoshi' during festivals?
The shape of the Japanese 'Omikoshi' really looks like the ark of the
covenant. Japanese people sing and dance in front of it with shouts, and
with the sounding of musical instruments. These are very similar to the
customs of ancient Israel."
Japanese people carry the "omikoshi" on their shoulders with poles -
usually two poles. So did the ancient Israelites:
"The Levites carried the ark of God with poles on their shoulders, as
Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD." (1
The Israeli ark of the covenant had two poles (Exodus 25:10-15). Some
restored models of the ark as it was imagined to be, have been using two
poles on the upper parts of the ark. But the Bible says those poles were
to be fastened to the ark by the four rings "on its four feet" (Exodus
25:12). So the poles must have been attached on the bottom of the ark.
This is similar to the Japanese "omikoshi."
The Israeli ark had two statues of gold cherubim on its top. Cherubim
are a kind of angel, a mysterious heavenly being. They have wings like
birds. Japanese "omikoshi" also have on its top the gold bird called
"Ho-oh" which is an imaginary bird and a mysterious heavenly being. The
entire Israeli ark was overlaid with gold. Japanese "omikoshi" are also
overlaid mostly with gold. The size of "omikoshi" is almost the same as
the Israeli ark. Japanese "omikoshi" may be a remnant of the ark of
Many Things Concerning the Ark Resemble Japanese Customs.
King David and people of Israel sang and danced with the sounding of
musical instruments in front of the ark. We Japanese sing and dance with
the sounding of musical instruments in front of "omikoshi," as well.
Several years ago, I saw an American-made movie titled "King David"
which was a faithful story of the life of King David. In the movie,
David was dancing in front of the ark when bringing up the ark into
Jerusalem. I thought: "If the scenery of Jerusalem were replaced by
Japanese scenery, this scene would be just the same as what I see here
at festivals in Japan."
The atmosphere of the music also resembled Japanese. David's dancing
really looked like Japanese traditional dancing.
At the Shinto shrine festival of "Gion-jinja" in Kyoto, men carry
"omikoshi," then go into the water, and cross a river. I can't help but
think this originates from the memory of the Ancient Israelites carried
the ark as they crossed the Jordan river after their exodus from Egypt.
In an island of Inland Sea of Seto of Japan, the men who were
selected as the carriers of the "omikoshi", stay together at a house for
one week before they would carry the "omikoshi." This is to prevent
profaning themselves. Furthermore, on the day before they carry
"omikoshi," they bathe in seawater to sanctify themselves. This is the
same custom as the ancient Israelites':
"So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the
ark of the Lord God of Israel." (1 Chronicles 15:14)
The Bible says that after the ark entered Jerusalem and the march was
finished; "David distributed to everyone of Israel, both man and woman,
to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins" (1
Chronicles 16:3). This is the same custom as the Japanese. Sweets are
distributed to everyone after a festival in Japan as well. It was a
delight during my childhood.
The Robe of Japanese Priests Resembles the Robe of Israeli
The Bible says that when David brought up the ark into Jerusalem;
"David was clothed in a robe of fine linen" (1 Chronicles 15:27). So
were priests and choirs. In the Japanese Bible, this verse is translated
into "robe of white linen."
In ancient Israel, although the high priest wore a colorful robe,
other ordinary priests wore simple white linens. Priests wore white
clothes at holy events. So do Japanese priests wear white robes at holy
events. In Ise-jingu, one of the oldest shrines of Japan, all the
priests wear white robes. And in many Shinto shrines of Japan, people
wear white robes when they carry the "omikoshi" just like the Israelites
did. Buddhist priests wear luxurious colorful robes. But in the Japanese
Shinto religion, white is regarded as the most holy color.
The Emperor of Japan, just after he finished the ceremony of his
accession to the throne, comes alone in front of the Shinto god. When he
comes there, he wears pure white robe on his whole body. Furthermore,
with his feet naked. This is the same as when Moses and Joshua removed
their sandals in front of God in bare feet (Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15).
Marvin Tokayer, a rabbi who lived in Japan for 10 years, wrote in his
"The linen robes which Japanese Shinto priests wear have the same
figure as the white linen robes of the ancient priests of Israel. "
The robe of the Japanese Shinto priest has cords of 20-30 centimeters
long (about 10 inches) hung from the corners of the robe. These fringes
are the custom of the Israelites. Deuteronomy 22:12 says:
"make them fringes in the corners of their garments throughout
Fringes (tassels) were a token that he was an Israelite. In the
gospels of the New Testament, it is also written that the Pharisees
"make their tassels on their garments long" (Matthew 23:5). A woman who
had been suffering from a hemorrhage came to Jesus (Yeshua) and touched
the "tassel on His coat" (Matthew 9:20, The New Testament: A Translation
in the Language of the People, translated by Charles B. Williams).
Imagined pictures of ancient Israeli clothing sometimes do not have
fringes. But their robes actually had fringes. The Jewish Tallit (prayer
shawl), which the Jews put on when they pray, has fringes in the corners
according to tradition.
Japanese Shinto priests wear on their robe a rectangle of cloth from
their shoulders to thighs. This is the same as the ephod worn by David:
"David also wore a linen ephod." (1 Chronicles 15:27)
Although the ephod of the high priest was colorful with jewels, the
ordinary priests under him wore the ephods of simple white linen cloth
(1 Samuel 22:18). Rabbi Tokayer says that the rectangle of cloth on the
robe of Japanese Shinto priest looks very similar to the ephod of the
Kohen, the Jewish priest.
The Japanese Shinto priest puts a cap on his head just like Israeli
priest did (Exodus 29:40). The Japanese priest also puts a sash on his
waist. So did the Israeli priest. The clothing of Japanese Shinto
priests must be that used by ancient Israelites.
Waving the Sheaf of Harvest Is Also the Custom of Japan.
The Jews wave a sheaf of their harvest stacks of grain seven weeks
before Shavuot (Pentecost, Leviticus 23:10-11), They do this also at the
Feast of Booths (Sukkot, Leviticus 23:40). This has been a tradition
since the time of Moses. Ancient Israeli priests also waved a plant
branch when he sanctifies someone. David said, "Purge me with hyssop,
and I shall be clean" [Psalm 51:7(9)]. This is also a traditional
When a Japanese priest sanctifies someone or something, he waves a
plant branch. Or, he waves a "harainusa" which is like a plant branch.
Today's "harainusa" is simplified and made of white paper that is folded
in a zig-zag pattern like small lightning bolts, but in old days it was
a plant branch or cereals.
A Japanese Christian woman I know used to think of this "harainusa"
as just a pagan custom. But she later went to the USA, and had an
opportunity to attend a Sukkot meeting. When she saw the Jewish waving
of the sheaf of the harvest, she shouted in her heart, "Oh, this is the
same as a Japanese priest does! Here lies the home for the Japanese."
The Structure of the Japanese Shinto Shrine is the Same As God's
Tabernacle of Ancient Israel.
The inside of God's tabernacle in ancient Israel was divided into two
parts. One is the Holy Place, and another the Holy of Holies. So is the
Japanese Shinto shrine. It is divided into two parts.
The functions prepared in the Japanese shrine are similar to the ones
of the Israeli tabernacle. Japanese people pray in front of its Holy
Place. They cannot enter inside. Only Shinto priests can enter. Shinto
priest enters the Holy of Holies only at special times. This is the same
as the Israeli tabernacle.
The Holy of Holies of Japanese Shinto shrine is located in far west
as in the Israeli tabernacle. Shinto's Holy of Holies is also located on
a higher level than the Holy Place, and between them there are steps.
Scholars say that, in the Israeli temple built by Solomon, the Holy of
Holies was on an elevated level as well, and between them there were
steps of about 2.7 meters (9 feet) wide.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there are two statues of lions called
"komainu" that sit on both sides of the approach. They are not idols,
but guards for the shrine. This is also a custom of ancient Israel. In
God's temple in Israel and in the palace of Solomon, there were statues
or relieves of lions (1 Kings 7:36, 10:19).
In the early history of Japan, there were absolutely no lions. But
the statues of lions have been placed in Japanese shrines since ancient
times. It has been proven by scholars that statues of lions located in
front of Japanese shrines originated from the Middle East.
Located near the entrance of a Japanese shrine, there is "temizuya"
which is a place for worshipers to wash their hands and mouth. This is
the same custom as found in Jewish synagogues. The ancient tabernacle
and temple of Israel also had a laver for washing and sanctification
near the entrances well.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there is a gate called the "torii."
The gate of this style does not exist in China or in Korea, it is
peculiar to Japan. The "torii" gate consists of two vertical pillars and
a bar connecting the upper parts. But the oldest form consists of only
two vertical pillars and a rope connecting the upper parts. When a
Shinto priest bows to the gate, he bows to the two pillars separately.
It is assumed that the "torii" gate was originally constructed of only
In the Israeli temple, there were two pillars used as a gate (1 Kings
7:21). And in Aramaic language which ancient Israelites used, the word
for gate was "taraa." This word might have changed slightly and become
the Japanese "torii". Some "torii"s, especially of old shrines, are
painted red. I can't help but think this is a picture of the two door
posts and the lintel on which the blood of the lamb was put the night
before the exodus from Egypt.
In the Japanese Shinto religion, there is a custom to surround a holy
place with a rope called the "shimenawa" which has slips of white papers
inserted along the bottom edge of the rope. The "simenawa" rope is set
as the boundary. The Bible says that when Moses was given God's Ten
Commandments on Mt. Sinai, he "set bounds" (Exodus 19:12) around it for
the Israelites not to approach. Although I don't know what kind of
things these "bounds" were, ropes or something else must have been set
as the boundary. The Japanese "shimenawa" rope might then be a custom
that originates from the time of Moses.
The only big difference between a Japanese shrine and the ancient
Israeli temple is that a Shinto shrine does not have the burning altar
for animal sacrifices. I used to wonder why Shinto religion does not
have the custom of animal sacrifices if Shinto originates from the
religion of ancient Israel. But then I found the answer in Deuteronomy
chapter 12. Moses commanded people not to offer any animal sacrifices at
any other locations except at specific places in Canaan (12:10-14). So,
if the Israelites came to ancient Japan, they would not be permitted to
offer animal sacrifices.
Many Japanese Customs Resemble the Customs of Ancient Israel.
When Japanese people pray in front of the Holy Place of a Shinto
shrine, they firstly ring the golden bell which is hung at the center of
the entrance. This is the custom of the ancient Israel. The high priest
Aaron put "bells of gold" on the hem of his robe. This was so that its
sound might be heard and he might not die when he ministered there
Japanese people clap their hands two times when they pray there. This
was, in ancient Israel, the custom to mean "I keep promises." In the
Scriptures, you can find the word which is translated as "pledge." The
original meaning of this word in Hebrew is "clap his hand" (Ezekiel
17:18, Proverbs 6:1). It seems that ancient people of Israel clapped
their hands when they pledge or when they do an important thing.
Japanese people bow in front of the shrine before and after clapping
their hands and praying. They also perform a bow as a polite greeting
when they meet each other. To bow was also the custom of the ancient
Israel. Jacob bowed when he was approaching Esau (Genesis 33:3). I have
noticed that modern Jews do not bow. However, they bow when reciting
prayers. Modern Ethiopian people have the custom of bowing, probably
because of the ancient Jews who emigrated to Ethiopia in ancient days.
The Ethiopian bow is similar to the Japanese.
We Japanese have the custom to use salt for sanctification. People
sometimes sow salt after an offensive person left them. When I was
watching a TV drama from the times of the Samurai, a woman threw salt on
the place where a man she hated left. This custom is the same as that of
the ancient Israelites. After Abimelech captured an enemy city, "he
sowed it with salt" (Judges 9:45). We Japanese quickly understand this
to mean to cleanse and sanctify the city.
I hear that when Jews move to a new house they sow it with salt to
sanctify and cleanse it. Again this is the same in Japan. In
Japanese-style restaurants, they usually put salt near the entrance.
Jews also use salt for Kosher meat. All Kosher meat is purified with
salt and all meals start with bread and salt.
Japanese people place salt at the entrance of a funeral home. After
coming back from a funeral, one has to sprinkle salt on oneself before
entering his own house, for it is thought in Shinto that anyone who went
to a funeral or touched a dead body has become unclean. Again the same
concept as the Israelites.
Japanese "sumo" wrestlers sow the sumo ring with salt before they
fight. European or American people wonder why they sow salt. But Rabbi
Tokayer wrote that Jews quickly understand its meaning. Japanese people
offer salt every time they perform a religious offering, This is the
same custom used by the Israelites, for the Bible says: "With all your
offerings you shall offer salt." (Leviticus 2:13) Japanese people in
ancient times had the custom to put some salt into baby's first bath.
The ancient people of Israel washed a new born baby with water after
rubbing the baby softly with salt (Ezekiel 16:4). Sanctification and
cleansing with salt and/or water is a common custom among both the
Japanese and Israelites.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the words "clean" or "unclean" often
appears. Europeans and Americans are not familiar with this concept. But
the Japanese people easily understand it, for it is Shinto's central
concept to value cleanness and to avoid uncleanness. This concept again
probably from ancient Israel.
In Japanese Shinto Religion, There Are No Idols Likewise Israeli
Buddhist temples have idols which are carved in the shape of Buddha
and other gods. But in Japanese Shinto shrines, there are no idols. In
the center of the Holy of Holies of a Shinto shrine, there is a mirror,
sword, or pendant. But Shinto believers do not regard these items as
their gods. In Shinto, gods are thought to be invisible. The mirror,
sword, and pendant are not idols, but merely objects to show that it is
the holy place where invisible gods come down.
In the ark of the covenant of ancient Israel, there were the tablets
of stone of God's Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and the rod of
Aaron. These were not idols, but objects to show that it was the holy
place where the invisible God comes down. We can say the same thing
concerning these objects in Japanese shrines.
Ancient Japanese People Had the Belief in Yahweh!?
There is a difference that Shinto religion believes in many gods,
while the Israeli (Jewish) religion believes in only one true God.
However, different from the modern Judaism, ancient religion of
Israel, especially of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, inclined to idol
worship and polytheistic belief (belief in many gods). They believed in
not only true God Yahweh, but also Baal, Asytaroth, Molech, and other
pagan gods. Practically the religion of ancient Israel was not
monotheistic. Shinto's polytheistic belief seems to have come from the
polytheistic inclination of ancient Israel. Shinto scholars say that a
Shinto god "Susanoh" resembles Baal in several aspects, and a female
Shinto god "Amaterasu" resembles Asytaroth.
Until 40 decades ago, at Mt. Inomure in Ooita pref., Japan, people
had held a ceremony to beg rainfall. They put woods together in the
shape of the Star of David for making the foundation, on it constructed
a tower made of tree branches, and on its top put a bamboo pole tangled
with a slough of snake. They burned the tower and prayed for rainfall.
It reminds us of the story that ancient Israelites had burned incense to
the bronze serpent (made by Moses) on the pole until the reign of the
King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).
Although Shinto is a polytheistic religion, I think there is a
possibility that ancient Shinto had once believed in Yahweh also.
The first born among the Shinto gods is called
"Amenominakanushi-no-kami." This god is said to have appeared first,
live in the midst of the universe, have no shape, no dying, be the
invisible master of the universe, and be the absolute god, who resembles
the Biblical God as the Master of the universe.
Archaeologists say that the religions of Babylon and of Egypt had
originally believed in one god called "the god of sky," which seemed to
have a connection to the Biblical "God of heaven." Later, their
religions degraded to the polytheism. I think that we can safely say the
same thing happened to the Shinto religion. I suppose that the ancient
Shinto religion had the belief in God Yahweh, but later degenerated into
polytheism. I believe that the Japanese people should come back to
believe in one true God whom the Bible teaches.
A Christian friend of mine, Mr. Tsujii, once told me a story. One
day, Mr. Tsujii's friend who is a passionate Shinto believer came to
him. The Shinto believer brought the Bible and said excitingly to Mr.
"I read the Torah. I was very surprised to know the religious
ceremonies of ancient Israel. The ways of them are the same as Shinto's!
The way of their festivals, the way of the Temple, the way to value
cleanness, all of them are the same as Shinto's!" Then, Mr. Tsujii said
"Yes, that is what I have also noticed. If you have noticed it, why
don't you believe in God whom the Bible teaches? I believe that is the
way to establish and recover the true Shinto religion in which you
believe." Hearing it, the Shinto believer was too surprised to say any
more words for a while.
The words of Mr. Tsujii are the same feeling as that I have for all
the Shinto believers in Japan. I pray that all Japanese people may come
back to believe in God of the Bible. Because He is also the Father of
the Japanese nation.
Festivals of Japan Resemble the Festivals of Ancient Israel.
Today we Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, but
historically we used the lunar calendar, when January 15th was the
official date for the new year celebration. It is a Japanese custom
during the celebration to eat "mochi" (rice cakes) throughout the seven
days. This is similar custom to the Jewish, for the Bible states:
"And on the fifteenth day of the same month (first month) is the
Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat
unleavened bread." (Leviticus 23:6)
The recipe for "unleavened bread" is the same for Japanese "mochi,"
because if you use rice as the ingredient instead of wheat flour, it
would become Japanese "mochi." The Hebrew word for unleavened bread" is
"matsah." I can't believe that it is an accident that these two words
Furthermore, the Japanese people eat porridge with seven kinds of
bitter herbs during celebration. In historical times people ate the
herbs on January 15. The ancient Israelites also ate "with bitter herbs"
on the 15th of the first month (Exodus 12:8).
In Japan, we have the "Gion" festivals at many locations during
summer. The most important is the one held at the "Yasaka-jinja" Shinto
shrine in Kyoto. The festival in Kyoto continues throughout July each
year. But, the most important part of the festival is held from the 17th
to the 25th of July (We Japanese call it "the seventh month"). The 1st
and 10th of July are also important. This has been a tradition since
ancient times. But the 17th of the seventh month is the day that Noah's
ark drifted to Ararat:
"Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of
the month, on the mountains of Ararat." (Genesis 8:4)
We can imagine that the ancient Israelites had a thanksgiving feast
on this day. But after Moses, it was replaced by the Feast of Booths
(harvest festival) which is held on the 1st, 10th day of the seventh
month, and during 8 days from the 15th of the seventh month (Numbers
29:1, 7, 12, 35).
The "Gion" festival in Kyoto started with the wish that no pestilence
would occur among people. This is similar to what King Solomon started,
in the wish that no pestilence would occur in the country, the feast
which continued for 8 days (including the last meeting day) from the
15th of the seventh month (2 Chronicles 7:8-10). Over 120 years ago, a
business man from Scotland, N. Mcleod, came to Japan and investigated
the customs of Japan. He wrote a book titled "Epitome of Japanese
Ancient History." In the book, he wrote that the "Gion" festival in
Kyoto resembled Jewish festivals very much. Rabbi Tokayer made a similar
comment. He said that the name "Gion" reminds him of "Zion" which is
another name used for Jerusalem. In fact, Kyoto used to be called
"Heian-kyo" which means "peace". Jerusalem in Hebrew also means "peace".
"Heian-kyo" might be Japanese for "Jerusalem."
At the "Gion" festival in Kyoto, people start the festival with a
shout of "en-yara-yah." We Japanese do not understand the meaning of
this Japanese word. But, Eiji Kawamorita, a Japanese scholar and a
Christian pastor who mastered Hebrew, wrote in his book that this word
came from the Hebrew expression "eni ahalel yah" which means "I praise
Yahweh (the Lord)."
Old Japanese Words Have Hebrew Origin.
Joseph Eidelberg, a Jew who once came to Japan and stayed for years
at a Japanese Shinto shrine, wrote a book titled "The Japanese and the
Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." He wrote that many Japanese words originated
from ancient Hebrew.
For instance, we Japanese say "hazukashime" to mean disgrace or
humiliation. In Hebrew, it is "hadak hashem" (tread down the name. See
Job 40:12). The pronunciation and the meaning of them are both almost
We say "anta" to mean "you," which is the same in Hebrew. Kings in
ancient Japan were called with the word "mikoto," which might come from
a Hebrew word "malhuto" which means "his kingdom." We call the Emperor
of Japan "mikado." This resembles the Hebrew word "migadol" which means
the noble. The ancient Japanese word for an area leader is
"agata-nushi;" "agata" is area, and "nushi" is a leader. In Hebrew, they
are called "aguda""nasi."
When we Japanese count "One, two, three... ten," we sometimes say:
"Hi, fu, mi, yo, itsu, mu, nana, ya, kokono, towo."
This is a traditional expression, but we Japanese don't know what
this means if we think of it as Japanese.
It is said that this expression originates from an ancient Japanese
myth. In the Shinto myth, the female god called "Amaterasu" who manages
the sunlight of the world once hid herself in a heavenly cave, and the
world became dark. Then, according to the oldest book of Japanese
history, the priest called "Koyane" prayed with words before the cave
and in front of the other gods to have "Amaterasu" come out. Although
the words that were said in the prayer are not written in the book, a
legend says that these words were "Hi, fu, mi...."
Joseph Eidelberg writes that this is a beautiful Hebrew expression,
if we suppose that there have been some changes in the pronunciation
throughout history. These words are to be spelled:
"Haiafa mi yotsia ma naane ykakhena tavo."
This means: "Who shall bring out the beautiful? What words shall we
say for her to come out?" This surprisingly fits the situation of the
Moreover, we Japanese not only say "Hi, hu, mi...," but also say with
the same meaning:
"Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, yottsu, itsutsu, muttsu, nanatsu,
yattsu, kokonotsu, towo."
Here, "totsu" or "tsu" is put to each of "Hi, hu, mi..." as the last
part of the words. But the last "towo" (which means ten) remains the
same. "Totsu" may be the Hebrew word "tetse" which means "She comes out.
" And "tsu" may be the Hebrew word "tse" which means "Come out."
Eidelberg supposes that these words were said by the gods who surrounded
the priest "Koyane." That is, when "Koyane" first says "Hi," the
surrounding gods add "totsu" (She comes out) in reply, and secondly when
"Koyane" says "Fu," the gods add "totsu" (tatsu), and so on. In this
way, it became "Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu...." But the last word "towo"
the priest "Koyane" and the surrounding gods said together. If this is
the Hebrew word "tavo," it means "(She) shall come." When they said
this, the female god "Amaterasu" came out. "Hi, fu, mi..." and "Hitotsu,
futatsu, mittsu..." later were used as the words to count numbers.
In addition, the name of the priest "Koyane" sounds close to a Hebrew
word "kohen" which means a priest. Eidelberg shows many other examples
of Japanese words which seem to have a Hebrew origin. His list contains
several thousand words. I don't believe this is a mere accident.
In ancient Japanese folk songs, there appear many words which we
cannot understand as Japanese. Dr. Eiji Kawamorita says that many of
them are Hebrew. A Japanese folk song in Kumamoto pref. is sung
"Hallelujah, haliya, haliya, tohse, Yahweh, Yahweh, yoitonnah...." This
also sounds like Hebrew.
Lost Tribes of Israel Came to Ancient Japan.
Ancient Israel was divided into two countries; one is the southern
kingdom of Judah, and the other is the northern kingdom of Israel. In 70
A.D., the people of the southern kingdom of Judah scattered all over the
world. There is some evidence that Jews traveled the silk road and went
as far away as Japan. But, how about the people of the northern kingdom
of Israel? The ancient book of history 'the fourth book of Ezra' says
that the Ten Tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel went east and
walked for one and a half years to a far away land. The Bible also says,
in Isaiah 11:12:
"He (God)...will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather
together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
The word "dispersed" is used for the people of Judah, but "outcasts"
is used for the people of Israel. The ten northern tribes were driven
away to a land rather than "dispersed". The main body must have gone to
a country far away from Israel.
There is strong evidence of an ancient Israeli presence in
Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, and China. According to a Chinese
historical book, there were Israelites who had the custom of
circumcision in the time of the second century B.C.E. in China. The ten
tribes of Israel must have moved to east passing these countries. We
cannot say there is no possibility that the main body of the Ten Tribes
of Israel came far away to Japan.
In ancient times, some people moved to Japan from China, some people
also came from Russia, and some people from South-East Asia. Most of
them were of Mongoloid stock. Among them, there is a possibility that
the main body of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel also came to Japan.
I don't believe that the Japanese religion called Shinto and all of
its customs came from the southern kingdom Jews. But, if the Lost Tribes
came to Japan in early history, it is understandable that their religion
and customs would have a strong influence on Japan. According to the
research of Dr. Kawamorita, there appears God's holy name "Yahweh" many
times in ancient Japanese folk songs. The Jews of Judah do not use His
name, because they quit pronouncing His name from the third century
B.C.E.. But the people of Israel continued to pronounce His name.
The formal name for the Emperor "Jinmu," the first Emperor of Japan,
is "Kamu-yamato-iware-biko-sumera-mikoto." Joseph Eidelberg says that it
can be interpreted in Hebrew as "The king of Samaria, the noble founder
of the Hebrew nation of Yahweh." This is not to mean that "Jinmu"
himself is really the founder of the Hebrew nation, but the memory of
the Hebrew nation might have come into the legend of the Japanese first
But, how about the custom of circumcision? Rev. Takatoshi Kobayashi,
who is one of the grandsons of Meiji-tennoh, and a member of the
Imperial family of Japan, but is a Christian pastor now, says that the
emperor and the prince of Japan are circumcised. However, this testimony
is the only evidence I know that the custom of circumcision exists in
From the Study of Blood Types.
Prof. Tanemoto Furuhata, who is the authority of forensic medicine at
Tokyo University, writes in his book that the blood types of the
Japanese and the Jews are very similar, and he was surprised to get to
know of it. I also heard that a professor of Paris University had
discovered that the chromosome "Y" of the Japanese is the same in size
as that of the Jews.
But I expect that further research will be done by a lot of people.
The decisive evidence that may prove to all people that the Ten Lost
Tribes came to Japan has not been discovered yet. Finally, I introduce
the rumor that God's name is written in Hebrew on the holy mirror which
is kept at the Japanese Shinto shrine "Ise-jingu" since ancient times.
Concerning the Rumor That God's Name Is Written in Hebrew on the
Holy Mirror of Ise.
In the Imperial House of Japan, there are three valuable treasures
which were derived from ancient Japanese myths. These three are a sword,
a jewel pendant and a mirror.
Among them, the mirror called "Yata-no-kagami" (mirror of Yata) is
placed in "Ise-jingu" which is the Shinto shrine for the Imperial House.
In fact, there is a rumor that God's name is written in Hebrew on the
back of this holy mirror. This mirror is regarded to be very holy and no
one is permitted to see it usually. But there are some people who insist
that they have seen it.
About a hundred years ago, Arinori Mori, the Minister of Education,
Culture, and Science of Japan at that time, insisted that he saw the
back of the holy mirror. He said that on it written in Hebrew was the
God's name "I AM THAT I AM", that is, the name which God spoke to Moses
After World War Two, Dr. Sakon, a professor from Aoyama-gakuin
University, stated that he had seen a replica of the mirror which was
placed in the Imperial Palace. He said that on it written in Hebrew was
God's name "I AM THAT I AM".
Later, it is said that Yutaro Yano, a passionate Shinto believer, saw
the mirror and transcribed the patterns of the back of the holy mirror.
Yano asked a priest at Ise-jingu again and again if he could look at the
mirror. The priest moved by Yano's passion, secretly permitted him to
look at the mirror, and Yano carefully copied the pattern off the back
of the mirror.
This copy has been maintained for years in a Shinto group named
"Shinsei-Ryujinkai" which is run by Yano's daughter. It had been held in
secret by the group. But later they say that there was "god's
revelation" to show the copy to His Highness Mikasanomiya, a younger
brother of the Emperor Hirohito (Showa Tennoh). Mr. Wadoh Kohsaka, who
is a Shinto researcher, had a role in handing it to Mikasanomiya. After
that, Kohsaka decided to show the copy to the public in his book, for he
thought it was important for the Japanese to know the truth. The book
was published several years ago.
There are two theories on how to interpret the letters on the mirror.
One is to interpret the letters as "Hifu-moji" which is believed to be
one of "Jindai-moji"s, the supposed Japanese letters existed in ancient
Japan before Kanji-writing had been imported from China to Japan.
Another theory is to interpret them as ancient Hebrew. The theory of
"Hifu-moji" is from Yano himself, but I don't believe it. Because I find
some contradictions in his interpretation. And no one knows what
Hifu-moji really looks like, so how can we accept them as Hifu-moji?
Furthermore, all the known Japanese ancient "Jindai-moji"s are written
vertically. I have never seen it written horizontally.
Some people suggest that the 7 letters inside the central circle of
the mirror might be read as "I AM THAT I AM" - in Hebrew "eheyeh asher
eheyeh," reading "eheyeh" two times. Other suggest that they could be
read as "Yahweh's light," - in Hebrew "or Yahweh" ("Or" means light). If
they could be read "Yahweh's light," it might be the reason why the god
of the Imperial House is called "Amaterasu" which means the god of light
or god of the sun. The god of the Imperial House of Japan may have
originally the God of the Bible, but later the faith in Him got mixed
with the belief in "Amaterasu." People started to call the god of the
Imperial House "Amaterasu," because on the mirror was written "Yahweh's
light" (Psalm 36:9, 84:11.)
As for the letters outside the central circle, a person suggests that
they are ancient Greek. But some letters among them are the same as the
ones inside the circle. So I think both the letters inside and outside
belong to the same language.
I think that these letters also look like Aramaic language which the
ancient Israelites used. If anyone reading this has a different
understanding, please let me know. Anyway, we do not have any evidence
that the copy of Yano is really the pattern of the back of the holy
mirror. This still remains as a mystery. I wish that the day to show the
mirror to the public would come.