in the world,
Ark of the covenant of Israel
(left) and "Omikoshi" ark of Japan
I am a Japanese Christian writer living in Japan.
As I study the Bible, I began to realize that many traditional customs and
ceremonies in Japan are very similar to the ones of
I considered that perhaps these rituals came from the religion and customs of
the Jews and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who might have come to ancient Japan.
The following sections are concerned with those Japanese traditions which
possibly originated from the ancient Israelites.
The reason why I exhibit these on the internet is to enable anyone interested
in this subject, especially Jewish friends to become more interested,
research it for yourself, and share your findings.
The ancient kingdom of Israel,
which consisted of 12 tribes, was in 933 B.C.E. divided into the southern kingdom
and the northern kingdom of Israel.
The 10 tribes out of 12 belonged to the northern kingdom and the rest to the
southern kingdom. The descendants from the southern kingdom are called Jews. The
people of the northern kingdom were exiled to Assyria in 722 B.C.E. and did
not come back to Israel.
They are called "the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." They were
scattered to the four corners of the earth. We find the descendants of the
Israelites not only in the western world, but also in the eastern world
especially along the Silk Road. The
following peoples are thought by Jewish scholars to be the descendants of the
Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
They live in Afghanistan.
Yusufzai means children of Joseph. They have
customs of ancient Israelites.
They live in Afghanistan
They have the customs of circumcision on the 8th day, fringes of robe,
Sabbath, Kashrut, Tefilin, etc.
In Kashmir they have the same land names as were in the ancient northern
kingdom of Israel.
They have the feast of Passover and the legend that they came from Israel.
In India there are people
called Knanites, which means people of Canaan.
They speak Aramaic and use the Aramaic Bible.
Shinlung tribe (Bnei
In Myanmar (Burma) and India live Shinlung tribe, also called Menashe tribe. Menashe is Manasseh, and the Menashe tribe is said to be the
descendants from the tribe of Manasseh, one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
They have ancient Israeli customs.
Chiang (Qiang or
They live in China and have ancient Israeli customs. They believe in one God
and have oral tradition that they came from far west. They say that their
ancestor had 12 sons. They have customs of Passover, purification, levirate
marriage, etc. as ancient Israelites.
It is known that there had been a large Jewish community since the time of B.C.E..
I am going to discuss this on this website.
The "Suwa-Taisha" shrine
A Japanese Festival Illustrates the
Story of Isaac.
prefecture, Japan, there
is a large Shinto shrine named "Suwa-Taisha"
(Shinto is the national traditional religion peculiar to Japan.)
At the back of the shrine "Suwa-Taisha,"
there is a mountain called Mt.
in Japanese). The people from the Suwa area call
the god of Mt.
Moriya "Moriya no kami,"
which means, the "god of Moriya." This shrine is built to worship
the "god of Moriya."
At Suwa-Taisha, the traditional festival called
"Ontohsai" is held on April 15 every year
(When the Japanese used the lunar calendar it was March-April). This festival
illustrates the story of Isaac in chapter 22 of Genesis in the Bible - when
Abraham was about to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. The "Ontohsai" festival, held since ancient days, is
judged to be the most important festival† of "Suwa-Taisha."
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, and he cuts
a part of the top of the wooden pillar, but then a messenger (another priest)
comes there, and the boy is released. This is reminiscent of the Biblical
story in which Isaac was
released after an angel came 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 ear split. The deer is considered to be the one God prepared. It could
have had some connection with the ram that God prepared and was sacrificed
after Isaac was released. Since the ram was caught in the thicket by the
horns, the ear might have been split.
The knife and sword used in the "Ontohsai"
In ancient time of Japan there were no sheep and it might be
the reason why they used deer (deer is Kosher). Even in historic times,
people thought that this custom of deer sacrifice was strange, because animal
sacrifice is not a Shinto tradition.
A deer with its ears split
People call this festival "the festival for Misakuchi-god". "Misakuchi"
might be "mi-isaku-chi." "Mi" means "great," "isaku" is most likely 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-bashira,"
which means, "sacrifice-pillar."
The "oniye-bashira" on which the boy is
supposed to be tied up
Currently, 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. However, the festival itself still remains.
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 that
existed 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
thinks of "Moriya-no-kami" (god of Moriya) as their ancestor's god.
They also consider "Mt.
Moriya" as their holy place.
The name, "Moriya," could have come from "Moriah" (the
Hebrew word "Moriyyah") of Genesis 22:2,
that is today's Temple Mount
Among Jews, God of Moriah means the one true God whom the Bible teaches.
The Moriya family has been hosting the festival for 78 generations. And the
curator of the museum said to me that the faith in the god of Moriya had
existed among the people since the time of B.C.E..
Apparently, no other country but Japan has a festival illustrating the
biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. This tradition appears to provide strong
evidence that the ancient Israelites came to ancient Japan.
shrine (See after 8:00) and the second
half† (For English subtitles,
click "Subtitles" (captions) at the right bottom of the YouTube screen)
Youtube: Ontohsai festival and interview with Arimasa Kubo
The Crest of the Imperial House of Japan Is the Same As
That Found On the Gate of Jerusalem.
The crest of the Imperial House of Japan is a round mark
in the shape of a flower with 16 petals. The current shape appears as a
chrysanthemum (mum), but scholars say that in ancient times, it appeared similar
to a sunflower. The sunflower appearance is the same 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. The same mark as the one
at Herod's gate is found on the relics of Jerusalemfrom the times of the Second
Temple, and also on
Assyrian relics from the times of B.C.E..
The mark on Herod's gate at Jerusalem
(left) and the crest of the Imperial House of Japan (right)
Religious Priests "Yamabushi" Put A Black
Box on their Foreheads Just As Jews Put A Phylactery on their Foreheads.
"Yamabushi" is a
religious man in training unique to Japan.
Today, they are thought to belong to Japanese Buddhism. However, Buddhism in China,
Korea and India
has no such custom. The custom of "yamabushi"
existed in Japan before Buddhism was imported into Japan
in the seventh century.
On the forehead of "Yamabushi," he puts a
black small box called a "tokin", which
is tied to his head with a black cord. He greatly 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 its shape is round and flower-like.
A "yamabushi" with a "tokin" blowing a horn
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 folklore, and some scholars maintain that it was
flower-shaped. If so, it was very similar to the shape of the Japanese "tokin" worn by the "yamabushi".
A Jew with a phylactery blowing a shofar
are the only two countries that in the world I know of that use of the black
forehead box for religious purpose.
Furthermore, the "yamabushi" use a big
seashell as a horn. This is very similar to Jews blowing a shofar or ram's
horn. The way it is blown and the sounds of the "yamabushi's"
horn are very similar to those of a shofar. Because there are no sheep in Japan,
the "yamabushi" had to use seashell horns
instead of rams' horns.
"Yamabushi" are people who regard
mountains as their holy places for religious training. The Israelites 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. His
apparent transfiguration also occurred on a mountain.
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 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.
Japanese use this word sometimes in their current lives.
There is no knowledge that a real scroll of a Jewish Torah was ever found in
a Japanese historical site. However, it appears this "scroll of the tora" is a derivation of the Jewish Torah.
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." (15:25-28)
Illustration of Israeli people carrying the Ark of the Covenant
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'
appears similar to the ark of the covenant. Japanese sing and dance in front
of it with shouts, and to the sounds of musical instruments. These are quite
similar to the customs of ancient Israel."
Japanese "Omikoshi" ark
Japanese carry the "omikoshi"
on their shoulders with poles - usually two poles. So did the ancient
"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 used 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). Hence, 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
type of angel, heavenly being having 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 partly and sometimes
entirely with gold. The size of an "omikoshi"
is almost the same as the Israeli ark. Japanese "omikoshi"
could be a remnant of the ark of ancient Israel.
Many Things Concerning the Ark Resemble Japanese
King David and people of Israel sang and danced to the sounds of
musical instruments in front of the ark. We Japanese sing and dance to the
sounds of musical instruments in front of "omikoshi"
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
seen dancing in front of the ark while it was being carried into Jerusalem.
I thought: "If the scenery of Jerusalem were replaced by Japanese scenery,
this scene would be just the same as what can be observed in Japanese
festivals." The atmosphere of the music also resembles the Japanese
style. David's dancing appears similar to Japanese traditional dancing.
At the Shinto shrine festival of "Gion-jinja"
men carry "omikoshi," then enter a river,
and cross it. I can't help but think this originates from the memory of the
Ancient Israelites carrying the ark as they crossed the Jordan river after
their exodus from Egypt.
In a Japanese island of the Inland Sea of Seto, the
men 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,"
the men bathe in seawater to sanctify themselves. This is similar to an
ancient Israelite custom:
"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 similar to a Japanese custom. Sweets are distributed
to everyone after a Japanese festival. It was a delight during my childhood.
The Robe of Japanese Priests Resembles the Robe of
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).
The same was true for the 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, ordinary priests wore simple
white linen. Priests wore white clothes at holy events. Japanese priests also
wear white robes at holy events.
In Ise-jingu, one of the oldest Japanese shrines,
all of the priests wear white robes. And in many Japanese Shinto shrines,
especially traditional ones, the people wear white robes when they carry the
"omikoshi" just like the Israelites did.
Buddhist priests wear luxurious colorful robes. However, in the Japanese
Shinto religion, white is regarded as the holiest color.
The Emperor of Japan, just after he finishes the ceremony of his accession to
the throne, appears alone in front of the Shinto god. When he arrives there,
he wears a pure white robe covering his entire body except that his feet are
naked. This is similar to the action of Moses and Joshua who removed their
sandals in front of God to be in bare feet (Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15).
Marvin Tokayer, a rabbi who lived in Japan
for 10 years, wrote in his book:
"The linen robes which Japanese Shinto priests wear have the same figure
as the white linen robes of the ancient priests of Israel. "
Japanese Shinto priest in white robe with fringes
The Japanese Shinto priest robe has cords of 20-30
centimeters long (about 10 inches) hung from the corners of the robe. These
fringes are similar to those of the ancient Israelites. Deuteronomy 22:12
"make them fringes in the... corners of their garments throughout their
Fringes (tassels) were a token that a person 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
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
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 states 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 appears to be
similar to the clothing used by ancient Israelites.
Waving the Sheaf of Harvest Is Also the Custom of Japan
The Jews wave a sheaf of their first fruits of grain
seven weeks before Shavuot (Pentecost, Leviticus 23:10-11), They also wave a
sheaf of plants at Sukkot (the Feast of Booths, 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 Japanese custom.
Shinto priest waving for sanctification
When a Japanese priest sanctifies someone or something,
he waves a tree branch. Or he waves a "harainusa,"
which is made of a stick and white papers and looks like a plant. Today's
"harainusa" is simplified and made of
white papers that are folded in a zigzag pattern like small lightning bolts,
but in old days it was a plant branch or cereals.
A Japanese Christian woman acquaintance of mine used to think of this "harainusa" as merely a pagan custom. But she later
went to the U.S.A. and had an opportunity to attend a
Sukkot ceremony. 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 Similar
to God's Tabernacle of Ancient Israel
The inside of God's tabernacle in ancient Israel was divided into two parts. The first
was the Holy Place,
and the second was the Holy of Holies. The Japanese Shinto shrine is also
divided into two parts.
The functions performed in the Japanese shrine are similar to those of the
Israeli tabernacle. Japanese pray in front of its Holy
Place. They cannot enter inside. Only Shinto
priests and special ones can enter. Shinto priest enters the Holy of Holies
of the Japanese shrine only at special times. This is similar to the Israeli
The Japanese Holy of Holies is located usually in far west or far north of
the shrine. The Israeli Holy of Holies was located in far west of the temple.
Shinto's Holy of Holies is also located on a higher level than the Holy
Place, and between them are steps. Scholars state
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) in width.
Typical Japanese Shinto shrine
In front of a Japanese shrine, there are two statues of
lions known as "komainu" that sit on both
sides of the approach. They are not idols but guards for the shrine. This was
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).
"Komainu" guards for shrine
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
Located near the entrance of a Japanese shrine is a "temizuya"
- a place for worshipers to wash their hands and mouth. They used to wash
their feet, too, in old days. This is a similar custom as is found in Jewish
synagogues. The ancient tabernacle and temple
also had a laver for washing hands and feet near the
In front of a Japanese shrine, there is a gate called the "torii." The type gate 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 two pillars.
In the Israeli temple, there were two pillars used as a
gate (1 Kings 7:21). And according to Joseph Eidelberg,
in Aramaic language which ancient Israelites used, the word for gate was
"tar'a." This word might have changed
slightly and become the Japanese "torii".
Some "torii," 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
"shimenawa" 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 the
nature of these "bounds" is not known, ropes might have been used.
The Japanese "shimenawa" rope might then
be a custom that originates from the time of Moses. The zigzag pattern of
white papers inserted along the rope reminds me of the thunders at Mt.
The major difference between a Japanese Shinto shrine and the ancient Israeli
temple is that the 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 originated from the religion of ancient Israel. But then I found the answer in
Deuteronomy, chapter 12. Moses commanded the people not to offer any animal
sacrifices at any other locations except at specific places in Canaan
(12:10-14). Hence, if the Israelites came to ancient Japan,
they would not be permitted to offer animal sacrifices.
Shinto shrine is usually built on a mountain or a hill. Almost every mountain
in Japan has a shrine, even you find a shrine on top of Mt.
Fuji. In ancient Israel,
on mountains were usually located worship places called "the high
places". The temple
of Jerusalem was built on a mountain (Mt.
Moriah). Moses was given the Ten
Commandments from God on Mt.
Sinai. It was thought in Israel
that mountain is a place close to God.
Many Shinto shrines are built with the gates in the east and the Holy of
Holies in the west as we see in Matsuo grand shrine (Matsuo-taisya) in Kyoto
and others. While, others are built with the gates in the south and the Holy
of Holies in the north. The reason of building with the gates in the east
(and the Holy of Holies in the west) is that the sun comes from the east. The
ancient Israeli tabernacle or temple was built with the gate in the east and
the Holy of Holies in the west, based on the belief that the glory of God
comes from the east.
All Shinto shrines are made of wood. Many parts of the ancient Israeli temple
were also made of wood. The Israelites used stones in some places, but walls,
floors, ceilings and all of the insides were overlaid with wood (1 Kings 6:9,
15-18), which was cedars from Lebanon (1 Kings 5:6). In Japan they do not have cedars from Lebanon,
so in Shinto shrines they use Hinoki cypress which
is hardly eaten by bugs like cedars from Lebanon. The wood of the ancient Israeli
temple was all overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20-30). In Japan the important parts of the main
shrine of Ise-jingu, for instance, are overlaid
Many Japanese Customs Resemble Those of Ancient Israel
When Japanese people pray in front of the Holy
Placeof a Shinto shrine,
they firstly ring the golden bell which is hung at the center of the
entrance. This was also 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
ministered there (Exodus 28:33-35).
Golden bell at the entrance of Shinto
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 into "pledge." The original
meaning of this word in Hebrew is, "clap his hand" (Ezekiel 17:18,
Proverbs 6:1). It seems that the ancient Israelites clapped their hands when
they pledged or did something important.
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).
Ordinarily, contemporary Jews do not bow. However, they bow when reciting
prayers. Modern Ethiopians have the custom of bowing, probably because of the
ancient Jews who immigrated to Ethiopia in ancient days. The Ethiopian bow is
similar to the Japanese bow.
We Japanese have the custom to use salt for sanctification. People sometimes
sow salt after an offensive person leaves. 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 interpret 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
it and cleanse it. This is true also in Japan.
In Japanese-style restaurants, they usually place salt near the entrance.
Jews 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/her house. It is believed in Shinto that anyone who went to a funeral or
touched a dead body had become unclean. Again, this is the same concept as
was observed by the ancient Israelites.
Japanese "sumo" wrestler sowing with salt
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:
"With all your offerings you shall offer salt." (Leviticus 2:13)
Japanese people in old times had the custom of
putting some salt into their baby's first bath. The ancient Israelites washed
a newborn 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 the ancient Israelites.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the words "clean" and "unclean"
often appear. Europeans and Americans are not familiar with this concept, but
the Japanese understand it. A central concept of Shinto is to value cleanness
and to avoid uncleanness. This concept probably came from ancient Israel.
Similar to Judaism, in Japanese Shinto Religion, There
Are No Idols
Buddhist temples have idols which are carved in the shape
of Buddha and other gods. However in Japanese Shinto shrines, there are no
In the center of the Holy of Holies of a Shinto shrine, there is a mirror,
sword, or pendant. Nevertheless, 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 a holy place where invisible gods come down.
In the ark of the covenant of ancient Israel,
there were stone tablets 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. The same thing can be said
concerning the objects in Japanese shrines.
Old Japanese Words Have Hebrew Origin
Joseph Eidelberg, a Jew who
once came to Japan and remained for years at a Japanese
Shinto shrine, wrote a book entitled "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 both of them are almost the same.
We say "anta" to mean "you," which is the same in Hebrew.
Kings in ancient Japan were called with the word "mikoto," which could be derived from a Hebrew word
"malhuto" which means "his
kingdom." The Emperor of Japan is called "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 "leader." In Hebrew, they are
called "aguda" and "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 its meaning is unknown it is thought of
as being Japanese.
It has been said that this expression originates from an ancient Japanese
Shinto myth. In the myth, the female god, called "Amaterasu," who
manages the world's sunlight, 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 said in the prayer are not
written, a legend says that these words were, "Hi, fu, mi...."
"Amaterasu" is hiding in a heavenly cave; "Koyane"
is praying and "Uzume" is dancing.
Joseph Eidelberg stated that
this is a beautiful Hebrew expression, if it is supposed that there were some
pronunciation changes throughout history. These words are spelled:
"Hifa mi yotsia ma na'ne ykakhena tavo."
This means: "The beautiful (Goddess). Who will bring
her out? What should we call out (in chorus) to entice her to come?"
This surprisingly fits the situation of the myth.
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" could be the Hebrew word "tetse," which means, "She comes out. " And "tsu" may
be the Hebrew word "tse" which means
Eidelberg believed 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...."
However, 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 say 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 showed
many other examples of Japanese words (several thousand) which appeared to
have a Hebrew origin. This does not appear to be accidental.
In ancient Japanese folk songs, many words appear that are not understandable
as Japanese. Dr. Eiji Kawamorita
considered that many of them are Hebrew. A Japanese folk song in Kumamoto prefecture is sung, "Hallelujah,
haliya, haliya, tohse, Yahweh, Yahweh, yoitonnah...."
This also sounds as if it is Hebrew.
Youtube: Similarities between Hebrew and Japanese
Between the Biblical Genealogy and Japanese Mythology
There is a remarkable similarity between the Biblical
article and Japanese mythology. A Japanese scholar points out that the
stories around Ninigi in the Japanese mythology
greatly resemble the stories around Jacob in the Bible.
In the Japanese mythology, the Imperial family of Japan and the nation of Yamato (the
Japanese) are descendants from Ninigi, who came
from heaven. Ninigi is the ancestor of the tribe of
Yamato, or Japanese nation. While Jacob is the ancestor of the Israelites.
In the Japanese mythology, it was not Ninigi who
was to come down from heaven, but the other. But when the other was
preparing, Ninigi was born and in a result, instead
of him, Ninigi came down from heaven and became the
ancestor of the Japanese nation. In the same way, according to the Bible, it
was Esau, Jacob's elder brother, who was to become God's nation but in a result,
instead of Esau, God's blessing for the nation was given to Jacob, and Jacob
became the ancestor of the Israelites.
And in the Japanese mythology, after Ninigi came
from heaven, he fell in love with a beautiful woman named Konohana-sakuya-hime and tried to marry
her. But her father asked him to marry not only her but also her elder
sister. However the elder sister was ugly and Ninigi
gave her back to her father. In the same way, according to the Bible, Jacob
fell in love with beautiful Rachel and tried to marry her (Genesis chapter
29). But her father says to Jacob that he cannot give the younger sister
before the elder, so he asked Jacob to marry the elder sister (Leah) also.
However the elder sister was not so beautiful, Jacob disliked her. Thus, there
is a parallelism between Ninigi and Jacob.
And in the Japanese mythology, Ninigi and his wife
a child named Yamasachi-hiko. But Yamasachi-hiko is bullied by his elder brother and has to
go to the country of a sea god. There Yamasachi-hiko
gets a mystic power and troubles the elder brother by giving him famine, but
later forgives his sin. In the same way, according to the Bible, Jacob and
his wife Rachel bear a child named Joseph. But Joseph is bullied by his elder
brothers and had to go to Egypt.
There Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt
and gets power, and when the elder brothers came to Egypt
because of famine, Joseph helped them and forgives their sin. Thus, there is
a parallelism between Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph.
Similarity between the biblical genealogy and Japanese mythology
And in the Japanese mythology, Yamasachi-hiko
married a daughter of the sea god, and bore a child named Ugaya-fukiaezu.
Ugaya-fukiaezu had 4 sons. But his second and third
sons were gone to other places. The forth son is emperor Jinmu
who conquers the land
of Yamato. On this line is the
Imperial House of Japan.
While, what is it in the Bible? Joseph married a daughter of a priest in Egypt,
and bore Manasseh and Ephraim. Ephraim resembles Ugaya-fukiaezu
in the sense that Ephraim had 4 sons, but his second and third sons were
killed and died early (1 Chronicles 7:20-27), and a descendant from the forth
son was Joshua who conquered the land
of Canaan (the landof Israel).
On the line of Ephraim is the Royal House of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
Thus we find a remarkable similarity between the biblical genealogy and
Japanese mythology - between Ninigi and Jacob, Yamasachi-hiko and Joseph, and the Imperial family of Japanand the tribe of
Furthermore, in the Japanese mythology, the heaven is called Hara of Takama (Takama-ga-hara or Takama-no-hara). Ninigi came from there and founded the Japanese nation.
Concerning this Hara of Takama, Zen'ichirou
Oyabe, a Japanese researcher, thought that this is
the city Haran
in the region of Togarmah
where Jacob and his ancestors once lived; Jacob lived in Haran of Togarmah for a while, then came to Canaan and founded the Israeli nation.
Jacob once saw in a dream the angels of God ascending and descending between
the heaven and the earth (Genesis 28:12), when Jacob was given a promise of
God that his descendants would inherit the landof Canaan.
This was different from Ninigi's descending from
heaven, but resembles it in image.
Thus, except for details, the outline of the Japanese mythology greatly
resembles the records of the Bible. It is possible to think that the myths of
Kojiki and Nihon-shoki,
the Japanese chronicles written in the 8th century, were originally based on
Biblical stories but later added with various pagan elements. Even it might
be possible to think that the Japanese mythology was originally a kind of
genealogy which showed that the Japanese are descendants from Jacob, Joseph,
Impurity during Menstruation and Bearing Child
The concept of uncleanness during menstruation and
bearing child has existed in Japan since ancient times. It has been a custom in Japan since old days that woman during
menstruation should not attend holy events at shrine. She could not have sex
with her husband and had to shut herself up in a hut (called Gekkei-goya in Japanese), which is built for
collaboration use in village, during her menstruation and several days or
about 7 days after the menstruation. This custom had been widely seen in Japan
until Meiji era (about 100 years ago). After the period of shutting herself
up ends, she had to clean herself by natural water as river, spring, or sea.
It there is no natural water, it can be done in bathtub.
This resembles ancient Israeli custom very much. In ancient Israel, woman
during menstruation could not attend holy events at the temple, had to be
apart from her husband, and it was custom to shut herself up in a hut during
her menstruation and 7 days after the menstruation (Leviticus 15:19, 28).
This shutting herself up was said "to continue in the blood of her
purification", and this was for purification and to make impurity apart
from the house or the village.
Menstruation hut used by Falasha, Ethiopian Jews
This remains true even today. There are no sexual
relations, for the days of menstruation and an additional 7 days. Then the
woman goes to the Mikveh, ritual bath. The water of
the Mikveh must be natural water. There are cases
of gathering rainwater and putting it to the Mikveh
bathtub. In case of not having enough natural water, water from faucet is
Modern people may feel irrational about this concept but women during
menstruation or bearing child need rest physically and mentally. Woman
herself says that she feels impure in her blood in the period. "To
continue in the blood of her purification" refers to this need of rest
of her blood.
Not only concerning menstruation, but also the concept concerning bearing
child in Japanese Shinto resembles the one of ancient Israel.
A mother who bore a child is regarded unclean in a
certain period. This concept is weak among the Japanese today, but was very
common in old days. The old Shinto book, Engishiki
(the 10th century C.E.), set 7 days as a period that she cannot participate
in holy events after she bore a child. This resembles an ancient custom of Israel,
for the Bible says that when a woman has conceived, and borne a male child,
then she shall be "unclean 7 days". She shall then "continue
in the blood of her purification 33 days". In the case that she bears a
female child, then she shall be "unclean two weeks", and she shall
"continue in the blood of her purification 66 days'" (Leviticus
In Japan it had been widely seen until Meiji era that woman during pregnancy
and after bearing child shut herself up in a hut (called Ubu-goya
in Japanese) and lived there. The period was usually during the pregnancy and
30 days or so after she bore a child (The longest case was nearly 100 days).
This resembles the custom of ancient Israel.
In ancient Israel,
after this period of purification the mother could come to the temple with
her child for the first time. Also in the custom of Japanese Shinto, after
this period of purification the mother can come to the shrine with her baby.
In modern Japan it is generally 32 days (or 31 days) after she bore the baby
in case of a male, and 33 days in case of a female.
But when they come to the shrine, it is not the mother who carries the baby.
It is a traditional custom that the baby should be carried not by the mother,
but usually by the husband's mother (mother-in-law). This is a remarkable
similarity of purity and impurity of the mother, after childbirth, with
ancient Israeli custom.
"Mizura" and Jewish Peyot
The photo below (left) is a statue of an ancient Japanese
Samurai found in relics of the late 5th century C.E. in Nara,
statue shows realistically the ancient Japanese men's hair style called
"mizura," which hair comes down under his
cap and hangs in front of both ears with some curling. This hair style was
widely seen among Japanese Samurais, and it was unique to Japan,
not the one which came from the cultures of China
Ancient Japanese Samurai's hair style "mizura"
(left) and Jewish "peyot" (right)
Is it a mere coincidence that this resembles Jewish
very much, which is also a hair style of hanging the hair in front of the
ears long with some curling (photo right)? "Peyot"
is a unique hair style for Jews and the origin is very old. Leviticus 19:27
of the Bible mentions:
"'Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head."
So, this custom originated from the ancient Israelites. The "peyot" custom of today's Hasidic Jews is a recovery
of this ancient custom. Yemenite Jews have had this custom since ancient
times. There is a statue from Syria,
which is from the 8th or 9th century B.C.E..
It shows a Hebrew man with peyot and a fringed
Research on the Japanese and Jews
DNA shows the common ancestry
of the Japanese and Jews
researches on Y-chromosome (which
only men have, and is passed from father to son) showed that about 40
% of Japanese men belong to
Y-chromosome DNA, and about 50 % haplogroup O.
Haplogroup O is what most of the Chinese and
Koreans belong to. It is typically Asian. They donít have haplogroup
D. Even when they have it, the rate is under 1-2 percents. However, the
Japanese have haplogroup D at the high rate of 40
%, which the Chinese, Koreans and most of other Asians donít have. This rate
is very unusual in the world.
According to geneticists, haplogroup
D is the compatriot of haplogroup E, as Wikipedia encyclopedia states:
with haplogroup E, D contains the distinctive YAP
polymorphism, which indicates their common ancestry.[Haplogroup D (Y-DNA)]
In both Ashkenazim and
Sephardim, many of current Jews belong to this Y-chromosome haplogroup E (20-30%). Other Jews belong to haplogroups J (about 30 %) and R (20-30%), etc. Haplogroup R might come into the Jews in the times of
diaspora in Europe. While, J is seen widely in the Middle East and other
Especially as for this haplogroup E, the Family Tree DNA, a DNA test provider, E1b1b1 type of haplogroup E is ďfound in all
Jewish populations, from Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Kurdish, Yemen, Samaritan and even among Djerba
Jewish groups.Ē So, they even
use this genetic marker to find
Haplogroups D and E were once one, and have the
same origin. They both came from haplogroup DE in
the Middle East, and later became separate according to time and place.
Now, the issue is, ďWhat haplogroup
did ancient Jews belong to?Ē Generally, it seems that haplogroups E and J have ever existed among Jews since
very long time ago (before 70 C.E.).
The reason to think so, as for E, is that E is found in
every Jewish population in the world, as mentioned above. And as for J, the
reason is that more than half of Jews with surname Cohen (Kohanim
who are said to be paternal descendants of biblical High Priest Aaron) belong
to J (J1 or J2).
If every Jew with the surname Cohen is from High Priest
Aaron of ancient Israel, we may think that ancient Jews should have belonged
to J; however, it is not that simple. Because, Kohanim
haplogroup J has 2 types; J1 and J2. Kohanim also have haplogroups E
and others at low rates. Kohanim belong to Levites,
and the Levites have haplogroup E and others at
similar rates of other Jewish tribes.
We have such a mystery. Anyway, geneticists think that haplogroups E and J have ever existed among Jews since
very long time ago. We do not yet know which was older. However, it is reasonable to pay more attention to
haplogroup E in searching the Ten Lost Tribes of
Israel. One reason is the DNA research of the Samaritan Kohanim.
Samaria was where the Ten Lost Tribes once lived. Today,
about 650 Samaritans live there. Most of them belong to haplogroup
J, for Samaritan men have mixed blood. On the other hand, the Samaritan Levite priests belong to haplogroup E. The Levites are not of mixed race, but
they strictly have been inheriting the Jewish blood since ancient times.
According to the Bible, they were sent to teach the Torah to the Samaritans
after the Assyrian exile, and have been keeping the paternal line (II Kings
of the so-called descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel belong to haplogroup E or D.
The Pathans in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are
said to be descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, have haplogroup
E remarkably. Uzbekistan
Jews, who are also said
to be from the Lost Tribes, have haplogroup E at
the frequency of 28 %. The Falasha, Ethiopian Jews, have haplogroup
E at 50 %.
Igbo Jews in Nigeria have haplogroup E at 90%. Haplogroup
E is thus found among those said to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
On the other hand, most of the peoples who are said
to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel
do not have haplogroup J, or have it at only very
low rate. The Pathans have J at only 6 %, and the
following peoples have no J or very low rate J; Igbo Jews (Nigeria), Bene Ephraim (South India), Beta Israel (Falasha, Ethiopia) and Bukharan Jews (Persian Jews).
The Lost Tribes of Israel have haplogroup D also. The Chiang (Qiang) people (southwest China
near Tibet) do not have haplogroup J, but have D at the high rate of 23 %. According to ďThe Tribes of IsraelĒ
written by Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail,
the founder of Amishav, the Chiang people have many
traditional Israelite customs, and he thinks they are descendants of the Lost
Tribes of Israel.
According to Rabbi Avichail, Shinlung
(Bnei Menashe, northeast
India) and Karen (Myanmar) peoples, who are also descendants of the Lost Tribes of
Israel, were once one with the Chiang
people. However, the Shinlung and Karen peoples
lost haplogroup D, because most men of the tribes
were killed by the Chinese in ancient persecution times. They also donít have
J. However, their traditional customs just indicate that they were
These peoples (Chiang, Shinlung and Karen) are generally called Tibetans, for
they all speak Tibet-Burma
language group and live near Tibet. But they all
have traditional Israelite customs and oral tradition of Israelite origin.
They could be called ďIsraelite Tibetans.Ē They once lived in Kaifeng, China, in ancient times, but under
the persecution by the Chinese, some
ran away to the south to mountainous area of Tibet, and became these
Israelite Tibetans, while others ran
away to the east.
Like the Chiang people, the Japanese have
the Y-chromosome haplogroup D, at the highest rate
in the world of 40 %. This is very unusual in Asia and in the world. This haplogroup D is the brother of haplogroup
E of the Jews, having come from the same origin and having the same YAP. It is credible that (about 40 % of) the
Japanese have strong connection with the Jews and the Lost Tribes of Israel.
To be continued to:
Chapter 2 - The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel
in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Myanmar, and China
Chapter 3 - Did the Lost Tribes of Israel
Come To Ancient Japan?
Chapter 4 - Various Other Similarities
Between Ancient Israel and Ancient Japan
Please feel free to print this site for your personal
use, and distribute it to your friends.
(Your thoughts and opinions are welcome, although I may not be able to reply
Home-page is here.
For more information
Israelites and the Japanese
Other recommended links:
I appeared in a Japanese TV program on this topic,
broadcasted from a major TV station. The program was entitled "The Roots of Japan Were Ancient Israel!?"† You can
watch it at YouTube.
(For English subtitles, click "Subtitles" (captions) at the right bottom of
the YouTube screen)
The following are the books written by Jewish researchers on the connections
between the Israelites and the Japanese.
the Footsteps of the Lost Ten Tribes, written by Avigdor Shachan (English and Hebrew).
Tribes of Israel - The Lost and the Dispersed, written by Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail (English and
*The Biblical Hebrew
Origin of the Japanese People, written by Joseph Eidelberg (English and Hebrew).
*The Japanese and the Ten Lost
Tribes of Israel, written by Joseph Eidelberg
*If you can read Japanese, "Nihon-Yudaya, Huuin
no Kodaishi" which is written by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and published by Tokuma-shoten
is the best book on this topic (This book includes many pictures. The English
version is not published yet).
The Mystery of Jews in
Straight Talk About God (Lost
Japanese Culture Influenced by Ancient Israel