The village of Shingo in northern Japan’s Aomori Prefecture will hold a festival in June based on the legend that Jesus Christ escaped crucifixion and traveled all the way to the eastern country. Some villagers believe that the Nazarene even got married, had three children, and lived until the age of 106 as a rice farmer. The event, complete with a traditional dance called Nanyadoyara, will be on its 50th year.
Legends do not necessarily mean to be true. The “Tomb of Christ” festival somehow reminds one of what Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Ryosuke Okamoto, a lecturer of sociology and religion, from the University of Sacred Heart in Tokyo said, “Many of the local residents do not completely believe the legend. But the legend has been passed down for a long time. Because of that, it has become not only part of the village’s strategy to attract tourists but also the identity of the village.”
Local government finds the festival a way to attract tourists from all over Japan. People may come as a “pilgrim” or plain curious observer. Scholars, either finding solid evidence for what the Bible claims or those who aim to dispute it, may also find something from this event. “The legend is a romantic one, regardless of whether it is true or not,” Shingo Mayor Yoshimi Suto said.
The Roman Army was known for its ruthlessness. It is doubtful that Jesus Christ, albeit being a healthy 33-year old then, survived the excoriation of the Roman soldiers. It is equally doubtful for Jesus to escape the bloodthirsty Romans, who wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were found out to have enjoyed inflicting pain then letting The Teacher carry a beam from whatever heavy branch they found. Regardless of what one prefers to believe about the matter, attendance of tourists in Shingo is sure to help promote the village and its local business.