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
Japanese carry the "omikoshi" on their shoulders with poles - usually
two poles. So did the ancient Israelites:
"The Levites carried the ark of God with poles on their shoulders, as
Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the L-rd." (Divrei
Hayamim I 15:15) The Israeli ark of the covenant had two poles (Exodus
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 kruvim on its top. Kruvim 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 Ark Resemble Japanese Customs.
King David and people of Israel sang 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 Jerusalem were 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 Israelite custom:
priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of
the Lord G-d of Israel." (Divrei Hayamim I 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"
(Divrei Hayamim I 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" (Divrei Hayamim I 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 holiest color.
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 (Shmos
3:5, Yehoshua 5:15).
Marvin Tokayer, a rabbi who lived in Japan for 10 years, wrote in his
"The linen robes which Japanese Shinto priests wear have the same figure
as the white linen robes of the ancient priests of Israel. "
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. Devorim 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.
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." (Divrei Hayamim I 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
(Shmuel I 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 (Shmos 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, Vayikra 23:10-11), They also wave a sheaf of plants
at Sukkot (the Feast of Booths, Vayikra 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" [Tehilim 51:7(9)]. This is also a traditional
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 zig-zag pattern like small
lightning bolts, but in old days it was a plant branch or cereals.
A Japanese 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."
The Structure of the Japanese Shinto Shrine is Similar to G-d's Tabernacle
of Ancient Israel.
The inside of G-d's tabernacle in ancient Israel was 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 tabernacle.
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.
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 G-d's temple in Israel and in the palace of Solomon, there were statues
or relieves of lions (Melachim I 7:36, 10:19).
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 Israel also 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 (Melachim
I 7:21). And in Aramaic language which ancient Israelites used, the
word for gate was "taraa." 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
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" (Shmos 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 zig-zag 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 Devarim, 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.
Many Japanese Customs Resemble Those of Ancient Israel.
When Japanese people pray in front of the Holy Place of 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 (Shmos
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" (Yechezkel
17:18, Shir Hashirim 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 (Breishis 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 emigrated to Ethiopia in 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" (Shoftim 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" 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." (Vayikra 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 (Yechezkel 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 G-d'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 G-d comes down. The same thing can be said concerning
the objects in Japanese shrines.
Ancient Japanese Possibly Had a Belief in Yah-weh
A major difference between the Shinto religion and Judaism is the Shinto
believe many gods and the Judaic believe in one true God.
However, unlike modern Judaism, the ancient religion of Israel, especially
of the Ten Northern Tribes, inclined to idol worship and polytheistic
belief (belief in many gods). They not only believed in G-d Yah-weh,
they also believed in other gods such as Baal, Asytaroth, Molech. Shinto's
polytheistic belief system appears to have been derived from the polytheistic
inclination of ancient Northern Israel. Shinto scholars state that the
Shinto god, "Susanoh," resembles Baal in several aspects, and the Shinto
female god, "Amaterasu," resembles Asytaroth.
Until 40 decades ago, at Mt. Inomure in Ooita prefecture, Japan, people
had a ceremony to beg for rainfall. They put wood together in the shape
of a Star of David for making the foundation. On it, they constructed
a tower made of tree branches, and on its top, they put a bamboo pole
tangled with a slough of snake. They burned the tower and prayed for
rainfall. This is reminiscent of the story of the ancient Israelites
burning incense to the bronze serpent (made by Moses) on the pole until
the reign of the King Hezekiah (Melachim II 18:4).
Although Shinto is a polytheistic religion, I think there is the possibility
that ancient Shinto had once believed in Yahweh as well.
The first born among the Shinto gods is called "Amenominakanushi-no-kami."
This god is said to have appeared first, live in the midst of the universe,
had no shape, did not die, was the invisible master of the universe,
and was the absolute god. He resembles the Biblical God as the Master
of the Universe.
Archaeologists state that the religions of Babylon and Egypt had originally
believed in one god called "the god of sky," who seemed to have a connection
to the Biblical "God of heaven." Later, their religions degraded to
the polytheism. I think that we can safely say the same thing happened
to the Shinto religion. I suppose that the ancient Shinto religion had
the belief in G-d Yahweh, but later degenerated into polytheism. I believe
that the Japanese people should come back to believe in one true God
whom the Bible teaches.
A friend of mine, Mr. Tsujii, told me the following incident. A friend
of Mr. Tsujii's, who was a passionate Shinto believer, came to him.
The Shinto believer had read the Torah and said excitingly:
"I read the Torah. I was very surprised to learn about the religious
ceremonies of ancient Israel. They are the same as Shinto's. The festivals,
the Temple, the value of cleanness, all of those are the same as Shinto's!"
Then, Mr. Tsujii said to him:
"Yes, that is what I have also noticed. If you have discovered it, why
don't you believe in God whom the Bible teaches? I believe that is the
way to establish and recover the true Shinto religion in which you believe."
Hearing this, the Shinto believer was too surprised to say anything
else for a while. Mr. Tsujii's words echo my own belief. I pray that
all Japanese people may return to the belief in God of the Bible, because
He is also the Father of the Japanese nation.
Festivals of Japan Resemble Those of Ancient Israel
Currently the Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, but historically
the lunar calendar was used, when January 15th was the official date
for the new year's celebration. It is a Japanese custom during the celebration
to eat "mochi" (rice cakes) throughout the seven days. This is similar
to Judaism, for the Bible states:
"And on the fifteenth day of the same month (first month) is the Feast
of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened
bread." (Vayikra 23:6)
The recipe for "unleavened bread" is the same for Japanese "mochi,"
because if you use rice as the ingredient instead of wheat flour, it
would become Japanese "mochi." The Hebrew word for unleavened bread"
is "matzah." Most likely it is not accidental that these two words sound
Furthermore, the Japanese people eat porridge with seven kinds of bitter
herbs during celebration. In historical times people ate the herbs on
January 15th. The ancient Israelites also ate "with bitter herbs" on
the 15th of the first month (Shmos 12:8).
In Japan, the "Gion" festivals take place at many locations during the
summer. The most important is the one held at the "Yasaka-jinja" Shinto
shrine in Kyoto. The festival in Kyoto continues throughout July each
year. However, the most important part of the festival is held from
July 17th to 25th (We Japanese call it "the seventh month"). July 1st
and 10th are also important. This has been a tradition since ancient
times. But the 17th of the seventh month is the day that Noah's ark
drifted to Ararat:
"Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the
month, on the mountains of Ararat." (Breishis 8:4)
It is likely that the ancient Israelites had a thanksgiving feast on
this day. However after Moses, it was replaced by the Feast of Booths
(harvest festival), which is held on the 1st, 10th day of the seventh
month, and during 8 days from the 15th of the seventh month (Bamidbar
29:1, 7, 12, 35).
The "Gion" festival in Kyoto started with the wish that no pestilence
would occur among people. This is similar to what King Solomon stated,
in the wish that no pestilence would occur in the country. The Israeli
feast continued for 8 days (including the last meeting day) from the
15th of the seventh month (Divrei Hayamim II 7:8-10).
Over 120 years ago, a business man from Scotland, N. Mcleod, came to
Japan to investigate the customs. He wrote a book entitled "Epitome
of Japanese Ancient History." In the book, he wrote that the "Gion"
festival in Kyoto greatly resembled Jewish festivals.
Rabbi Tokayer made a similar comment. He said that the name "Gion" reminds
him of "Zion" which is another name for Jerusalem. In fact, Kyoto used
to be called "Heian-kyo," which means "city of peace." Jerusalem in
Hebrew also means "city of peace". "Heian-kyo" might be Japanese for
At the "Gion" festival in Kyoto, the people start the festival with
a shout of "en-yara-yah." Japanese do not understand the meaning of
this word. But, Eiji Kawamorita, a Japanese scholar who mastered Hebrew,
wrote in his book that the word seemed to be a Hebrew expression "eni
ahalel yah" which means "I praise Yah-weh (the L-rd)."
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 Japan and the nation
of Yamato (the Japanese) are descendants of Ninigi, who came from heaven.
Ninigi is the anscestor of the tribe of Yamato, or Japanese nation.
While Jacob is the anscestor 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 anscestor of the Japanese nation. In the same way, according
to the Bible, it was Esau, Jacob's elder brother, who was to become
G-d's nation but in a result, instead of Esau, G-d's blessing for the
nation was given to Jacob, and Jacob became the anscestor 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 Rachal and tried to marry her (Breishis
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 Rachal 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 mythology
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 (Divrei Hayamim II 7:20-27), and a descendant
of 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
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 Japanase researcher, thought that this is the city Haran in
the region of Togarmah where Jacob and his anscestors once lived; Jacob
lived in Haran of Togarmah for a while, then came to Canaan and founded
the Israeli nation.
Jacob once saw in a dream the angels of God ascending and descending
between the heaven and the earth (breishis 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 of Jacob, Joseph, and Ephraim.
Impurity During Menstruation and Bearing Child
The concept of uncleanness during menstruation and bearing child have
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 shed (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 shed during her menstruation and 7 days after the menstruation
(Vayikra 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.
This remains true even today. There are no marital 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
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
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 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'" (Vayikra 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 shed (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.
A Possible Remnant of the Celebration of Circumcision
If the ancient Israelites came to Japan, do the Japanese have the custom
of circumcision? Although I have heard a rumor that circumcision had
been performed within the Imperial family of Japan, I have not been
able to confirm yet whether or not there has been such a custom.
we cannot see the custom of circumcision among Japanese citizens, but
a traditional Japanese custom exists known as "O-shichi-ya," which means
7th night. On the 7th night from the day a baby was born, the Japanese
parents have a celebration to introduce the baby to relatives and friends
and let them know the name of the baby.
The 7th night is, according to the Jewish way of counting days, the
8th day from the day the baby was born, because it is from the sunset
that the next day starts in the Jewish calendar. This is reminiscent
of the Jewish custom of circumcision on the 8th day. The Israelites
gathered on the 8th day, that was usually 7th night from the day a boy
was born. The parents introduced the baby to relatives and friends,
circumcised him, introduced his name and rejoiced his birth together.
During the 7 days he has no name, just like in the Japanese custom.
From the Study of Blood Types
Professor Tanemoto Furuhata, who is the authority on forensic medicine
at Tokyo University wrote in his book that surprisingly, the blood types
of the Japanese and the Jews are very similar. I also heard that a professor
at Paris University had discovered that the "Y" chromosome of the Japanese
is the same size as that of the Jews. I expect that further research
will be done by many individuals.
Ten Tribes in Japan - Part 3
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