Dear friends in the world,
Ark of the covenant of Israel (left) and "Omikoshi"
ark of Japan (right)
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 Japanare very similar to the
ones of ancient Israel. 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
The following sections are concerned with those Japanese
traditions which possibly originated from the ancient
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 of Judahand 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
They live in Afghanistan. Yusufzai means children of
Joseph. They have customs of ancient Israelites.
They live in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 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
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 Chiang-Min) tribe
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
Festival Illustrates the Story of Isaac.
In Nagano 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. Moriya("Moriya-san"
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
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
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
The Crest of
the Imperial House of Japan Is the Same As That Found On
the Gate of Jerusalem.
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 Edoera (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 of Jerusalem. Among Jews,
God of Moriah means the one true God whom the Bible
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 Japanhas 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.
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)
Japanese 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 Japanbefore 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
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
Israel and Japan 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.
"Yamabushis" 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. Jerusalemis
a city on a mountain. Jesus (Yeshua) used to climb up the
mountain to pray. His apparent transfiguration also
occurred on a mountain.
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. Japanese use this word sometimes in their
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.
"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 Israelbrought 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
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
"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 Chronicles 15:15)
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.
Concerning the Ark Resemble Japanese Customs.
King David and people of Israelsang 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" 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 seen dancing
in front of the ark while it was being carried into Jerusalem.
I thought: "If the scenery of Jerusalemwere 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
At the Shinto shrine festival of "Gion-jinja"
in Kyoto, 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
"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 Israeli Priests.
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
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 says:
"make them fringes in the... corners of their
garments throughout their generations."
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 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
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
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.
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."
of the Japanese Shinto Shrine is Similar to God's
Tabernacle of Ancient Israel
The inside of God's tabernacle in ancient Israelwas
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 East.
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 of Israelalso
had a laver for washing hands and feet near the entrances.
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 "toriis," 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. Sinai.
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 Jerusalemwas
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 Japanthey 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 Japanthe important parts of the main
shrine of Ise-jingu, for instance, are overlaid with gold.
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 Ethiopiain 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
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."
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 idols.
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
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.
Words Have Hebrew Origin
Joseph Eidelberg, a Jew who once came to Japanand
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 Japanwere 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"
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
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
"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 "Come out."
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,
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
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
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 Kumamotoprefecture is sung, "Hallelujah,
haliya, haliya, tohse, Yahweh, Yahweh, yoitonnah...."
This also sounds as if it is Hebrew.
Similarity Between the Biblical Genealogy and
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
In the Japanese mythology, the Imperial family of Japanand
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
Konohana-sakuya-hime bear 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
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 Ephraim.
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 Haranin
the region of Togarmah where Jacob and his ancestors once
lived; Jacob lived in Haran of Togarmah for a while, then
came to Canaanand 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, and Ephraim.
during Menstruation and Bearing Child
The concept of uncleanness during menstruation and
bearing child has existed in Japansince ancient times. It
has been a custom in Japansince 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 added.
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 12:2-5).
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
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.
Japanese "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, Japan. This 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 or Korea.
Ancient Japanese Samurai's hair style "mizura"
(left) and Jewish "peyot" (right)
Is it a mere coincidence that this resembles Jewish
"peyot" (payot) 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 shawl.
DNA Research on the Japanese
DNA shows the common ancestry
of the Japanese and Jews
Recent DNA researches on Y-chromosome
showed that about 40 % of the Japanese have DNA of
haplogroup D. Y-chromosome DNA is passed from father to
son, and is classified according to genetic features into
genetic groups called E/span>haplogroupsEfrom
A to T. Only Japanese and Tibetan peoples in the world
have haplogroup D at a high frequency. D is rarely found
even among the Chinese and Koreans.
According to geneticists, haplogroup
D is the compatriot of haplogroup E, which is found in
all Jewish groups of the world. Haplogroups D and E were
once one and have the common origin, as Wikipedia
"Along with haplogroup E, D
contains the distinctive YAP polymorphism, which
indicates their common ancestry.[Haplogroup D (Y-DNA)]
According to Family Tree DNA, a DNA test provider,
especially E1b1b1 type of haplogroup E is found in
all Jewish populations, from Ashkenazi, Sephardic,
Kurdish, Yemen, Samaritan and even among Djerba Jewish
groups. They use this genetic marker to find Jewish
The Pathans in Afghanistan and
Pakistan, who are said to be descendants of the Lost
Tribes of Israel, have haplogroup E remarkably. The
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 %.
Haplogroup E is found even among those said to be from
the Lost Tribes of Israel.
Haplogroups D and E were once one, but became separate in
the Near East. Those who remained in the Near East or
went west became Jews, while those who moved east became
the Lost Tribes of Israel in the East, including
Israelite Tibetans and the Japanese.
What I call Israelite
TibetansEare the Chiang (Qiang) people (southwest
China), the Shinlung (Bnei Menashe, northeast India) and
the Karen (Myanmar). They all live near Tibet and speak
language of Tibet-Burma language group. Rabbi Eliyahu
Avichail of Amishav thinks that these tribes are
descendants of the Lost Tribes, because they have many
ancient Israeli customs. It is noteworthy that especially
23% of the Chiang people have haplogroup D, which came
from the common ancestor with E. The Japanese, having
haplogroup D also, are closely related to them.
Rabbi Avichail thinks that these Chiang,
Shinlung and Karen were once one and the same tribe,
because they all once wandered in China, were persecuted by
the Chinese and lost the Torah there, having the same
legends and customs. It seems that the origins of the
Japanese and these Israelite Tibetans were once the same.
Current Jews, both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, mainly have
haplogroups J, E and R. It is thought that ancient Jews
mainly had haplogroups J and E.
Some people think that especially
J was peculiar to original Jews, because about 80% of
paternally inherited Cohen families, who are descendants
of the High Priest Aaron, belong to J. However, Aaron was
a Levite, and J is found among paternal Levites only at a
relatively low frequency. The Levites have haplogroup E
as other Jews do, and Samaritan Levite priests belong to
haplogroup E. For haplogroup E is found in all Jewish
groups of the world, E had been a distinctive Jewish
haplogroup since before the diaspora of 70 C.E..
Israelites had experienced blood
mixing since very early times. The Bible mentions about
the exodus from Egypt, "Many other people who were
not Israelites went with them" (Exodus 12:38, New
Century Version). Moses many times mentioned about
foreigners living among his people. They could become
Israelites if circumcised and living as Israelites (Exodus
12:48, etc). There were thus some haplogroups found among
However, most of the peoples who are said to be from the
Lost Tribes of Israeldo not have haplogroup J, including
the following peoples:
*Chiang (Qiang, southwest China)
*Bnei Menashe (Shinlung,
*Bene Ephraim (South India)
*Beta Israel (Falasha, Ethiopia)
*Bukharan Jews (Persian Jews)
*Igbo Jews (Nigeria)
The Japanese also do not have
haplogroup J. It seems that the basic haplogroup of
ancient Israelites was haplogroup E or haplogroup DE (ancestor
of haplogroups D and E). Today, the Pathans and
Uzbekistan Jews, who are the Lost Tribes of Israel living
in West Asia or Central Asia, have haplogroup E. While in
the East, the Chiang and the Japanese have haplogroup D.
D and E were once one. The
Japanese are genetically from the Lost Tribes of Israel.
To be continued to:
2 - The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Kashmir, Myanmar, and China
3 - Did the Lost Tribes of Israel Come To Ancient Japan?
4 - Various Other Similarities Between Ancient Israel and
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 to all.)
For more information
on Israelites and the Japanese
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!?"
can watch it at YouTube.
(For English subtitle, click "CC" at
the right bottom of the YouTube screen)
Other recommended links:
The following are the books written by Jewish researchers
on the connections between the Israelites and the
Biblical Hebrew Origin of the Japanese People,
written by Joseph Eidelberg (English and Hebrew).
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 Hebrew).
*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).
Mystery of Jews in Japan (video)
Who are the
About God (Lost Tribes)
Japanese Culture Influenced by Ancient Israel