Though I’ve heard rumors that peripatetic Jesus visited India, I only recently learned that he may have trekked (and boated) all the way to Japan. As Franz Lidz explains over at the Smithsonian, the greatest story ever told has a backstory:
On the flat top of a steep hill in a distant corner of northern Japan lies the tomb of an itinerant shepherd who, two millennia ago, settled down there to grow garlic. He fell in love with a farmer’s daughter named Miyuko, fathered three kids and died at the ripe old age of 106. In the mountain hamlet of Shingo, he’s remembered by the name Daitenku Taro Jurai. The rest of the world knows him as Jesus Christ.
It turns out that Jesus of Nazareth — the Messiah, worker of miracles and spiritual figurehead for one of the world’s foremost religions — did not die on the cross at Calvary, as widely reported. According to local folklore, that was his kid brother, Isukiri, whose severed ear was interred in an adjacent burial mound in Japan.
The further details are fascinating and quintessentially Japanese. Though it’s hard to tell whether this is mere whimsy or serious syncretism, I like the idea of briefly suspending disbelief and simply enjoying.