Jesus didn’t die on the cross. His twin-brother filled in for him to trick the authorities, and Jesus traveled to a remote village in Japan, fathered a few children, and lived to a fulfilling life until his death at 106.

Sound like the latest Dan Brown novel? Nope. It’s local legend from Japan.

Smithsonian magazine offers insight into this wild tale:

On the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who, two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko, fathered three kids and died at the ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he’s remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai. The rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ.

It turns out that Jesus of Nazareth—the Messiah, worker of miracles and spiritual figurehead for one of the world’s foremost religions—did not die on the cross at Calvary, as widely reported. According to amusing local folklore, that was his kid brother, Isukiri, whose severed ear was interred in an adjacent burial mound in Japan.

Read the full article to learn about the crucified Santa Claus, what young people do on Christmas Eve (not Midnight Mass), and some history about the uncomfortable fusion of Shinto and Christianity.

Categories: Beliefs, Culture

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Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O’Loughlin writes about religion and politics from Washington, D.C., paying close attention to the role of the Catholic Church in public life. His writing has appeared in Religion & Politics, the Jesuit magazine America, on, and in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership.

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