Ark of the covenant of Israel
(left) and "Omikoshi" ark of Japan
Dear friends in the world,
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 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
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
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,
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 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
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 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 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
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
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
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 Japanhas a festival
illustrating the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. This tradition
appears to provide strong evidence that the ancient Israelites came to
The Crest of the Imperial
House of JapanIs
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)
Japanese Religious Priests "Yamabushi"
Put A Black Box on their Foreheads Just As Jews Put A Phylactery on their
"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
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.
"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.
is a city on a mountain. Jesus (Yeshua) used to
climb up the mountain to pray. His apparent transfiguration also occurred on
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
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.
Japanese "Omikoshi" Resembles the Ark of the Covenant.
In the Bible, in First Chronicles, chapter 15, it is written that David brought up the ark of the covenant
of the Lord into Jerusalem.
"David and the elders of Israel
and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the
covenant of the LORD from the house of Obed-Edom,
with rejoicing. ...Now David was clothed in a robe
of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were
the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the
singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all 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."
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
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"
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 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
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
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
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 tradition.
Japanese Shinto priests wear on their robe a rectangle of cloth from their
shoulders to thighs. This is the same as the ephod worn by David:
"David also wore a linen ephod." (1 Chronicles 15:27)
Although the ephod of the high priest was colorful with jewels, the ordinary
priests under him wore the ephods of simple white linen cloth (1 Samuel
22:18). Rabbi Tokayer 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 Structure 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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 Japan
the important parts of the main shrine of Ise-jingu, for instance, are overlaid with gold.
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
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 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 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 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
Old Japanese Words Have
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 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,
"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 "Come
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.
Similarity 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 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
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 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
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
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 land
of 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 Japan
and 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 land
of 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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
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 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 haplogroups from 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.
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 encyclopedia
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
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, includingIsraelite
Tibetans and the Japanese.
What I call
Israelite Tibetans are 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.
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
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 ancient Israelites.
However, most of the peoples
who are said to be from the Lost Tribes of Israel do not have haplogroup J, including
the following peoples:
*Bnei Menashe (Shinlung, northeast India)
*Bene Ephraim (South India)
*Beta Israel (Falasha, Ethiopia)
*Bukharan Jews (Persian Jews)
*Igbo Jews (Nigeria)
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:
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
For more information
Free Video 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!?"
watch part of it at YouTube.
(For English subtitle,
click "CC" at the
right bottom of the YouTube screen)
For those who want to watch the
complete program (about 90 minutes) with English subtitle, I will send a DVD copy for free. To obtain it, please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
including your postal address like the following.
To Remnant Publishing
Please send me a free copy of the DVD "The Roots
of Japan Were Ancient Israel!?"
Mr. or Ms.?:
(You can copy and paste to
the email text field.)
The following are the books written by Jewish researchers on the connections
between the Israelites and the Japanese.
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).
Other recommended links:
The Mystery of Jews in
Straight Talk About God (Lost
Japanese Culture Influenced by Ancient Israel