A Japanese shrine with a strange festival. Are its roots in Judaism?

Have you ever heard of Suwa-taisha Shrine in Suwa City, Nagano prefecture? The shrine exists in four parts surrounding Suwa Lake and is considered one of the oldest shrines in Japan. In a nutshell, it is a big shrine with an old history!

There is a strange festival called “Ontousai” held there every April that not even many Japanese know about. It follows that you wouldn’t know that this strange festival has its roots in Judaism.

Today, I would like to explain about this little-known festival.

A festival requiring sacrifices
This may sound disturbing, but the festival requires 75 deer heads, a white rabbit skewered with a pine stick, deer brains, and other rather grotesque items to be offered as sacrifices. Stuffed animals are used now instead, but in the past, of course, they used the real thing.


A mysterious play
There is a mysterious play in which a child is tied up and about to be stabbed by a priest but stops and the child is freed at that moment. This play has been passed down but the meaning is unclear.

The history is unknown
The last period in which the samurai were active, the Edo period, is documented, but there are no records prior to that. Therefore, it is difficult to see when and how the festival started. It really is shrouded in mystery.

However, one thing that can be said is that it is completely different from festivals held in other regions. For this reason, there is a theory that it’s of foreign origin.

Similarities to Judaism
Strangely enough, there are some similarities. The “go-shintai” (objects of worship) of Suwa-taisha, that is, the deity that this shrine worships, is a mountain called Moriya-yama. The name of the mountain in Palestine, Israel, is Moriah.

And the mysterious play about the priest stabbing with a knife sounds exactly like the Old Testament sacrifice of Isaac, which includes the following details:

 ‘God said to Abraham, “Sacrifice your only son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.”’

And it is written that Abraham sacrificed a goat instead of his son.

Considering that Nagano prefecture has many deer rather than goats, so the animal sacrificed had to be changed, don’t you think that this festival almost recreates the Old Testament story?


Why 75 deer heads?
The number 75 apparently has significance too. In the New Testament, Acts 7: 14, it is written:

 ”Joseph sent a messenger to invite his father Jacob and all his relatives, who numbered seventy-five.”

Joseph is the grandson of Isaac who was sacrificed. Isn’t it possible that there is a relationship between the two?

Family crest is a cross?

The Moriya family has lived in this area for a long time and manages the Suwa-taisha shrine. The family crest is a Chinese numeral 10 in a circle, which also resembles a plus-sign.

Now, is this all a coincidence? It is about 9,000 km from Jerusalem to Japan.

People may have migrated over this distance, but could it be possible that religion and customs are passed on intact during such long distances?

Japan is a country of mystery.

There are many other things that show a connection between Jews and Japan, and if this history is unraveled, it may turn the whole idea of human history upside down.



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