Most blogs or articles on The Lost Tribes in Japan aren't going to mention Anime and Video Games (and maybe Godzilla) as much as I'm going to. But being a Nerdy Fundamentalist is part of my gimmick, and I figure mentioning what Western Pop Culture likes most about Japan can make this subject accessible to people it wasn't before. But if you're going to read this mainly for that then I should warn you it may take awhile to start popping up.
I think this theory could have truth in it, but I shall keep a skeptical eye. Plenty of arguments made for it I think certainly range from bad to being quite a stretch. And there is plenty of reason to suspect Nicholas McLeod was being deliberately dishonest and manipulative about many things.
Critics of the theory will point out that proponents are being very selective in what Japanese customs they'll mention, including both relatively nation wide ones and local isolated ones, and not mentioning ones that don't fit. I understand that.
Thing is, I at least am not going to suggest Israelites were the only ancestors of the Japanese. There were probably multiple migrations of people to the Islands that make up Japan, and even the ones that brought Hebrews may not have brought only Hebrews. And there are also things that may not be explainable only by a Biblical origin, but when viewed next to other less common similarities become more interesting.
The Suwa-Taisha local ceremony that is argued to parallel the offering of Isaac is perhaps the most compelling. I'll deal with it later, but before discussing a possible specific Tribal identity.
The oldest versions of the theory focus on saying it's the Priestly and/or Aristocratic clans that had Israelite origins. While a later version focused on certain lower class and outcast populations. It's possible each of those could have some truth to them with Israelites still not being the only ancestors of any group. The DNA study touched on the Northern Kingdom's non Levitical priesthood.
The more moderate versions often focus on the Hata Clan, speculating them to have been Nestorian Jewish Christians from the Third Century AD. Which strictly speaking wouldn't be a Lost Tribes connection at all. But a lot of Christian theology about the Lost Tribes says Christians have knowingly or not often sought out the Lost Tribes in the spread of the Gospel. Now a lot of that can tie into Two House theology which can be dangerous. But it's something to keep in mind. If the Hata Clan has the specific origin speculated (Jewish Christians who were once in Assyria), then combined with other speculation of mine they could have included descendants of the maternal half siblings of Jesus.
Seeing Hexagrams popping in Japan cited as evidence can be particularly controversial, because some object to The Star of David. And that symbol is hardly unique to Judaism.
The comparison between the Omikoshi and The Ark of the Covenant can seem compelling. A western person looking at it tends to think "that's what an Oriental version of The Ark would look like". Thing is similar things do exist in other religions. In fact Bible skeptics love to look at similar objects serving a similar function in Egypt and just accuse Moses (or someone much later) of copying that.
What sets The Ark apart is that there can be only one because this is Monotheism. However based on The Lemba and their Drum of Thunder I can believe exiled Israelites may have decided to have something else play the same ceremonial function. Especially Northern Israelites who after Jeroboam followed Moses much less strictly then the Lemba do. The Ethiopians are also okay with replica Arks, and they claim to have the real one.
The overall comparison of the standard layout of a Shinto Shrine to the Tabernacle/Temple of Solomon, (with the Honden as the Holy of Holies and Haiden as the Holy Place), has a lot of parallels that are pushing it and others that are just pretty standard for any Temple. What's striking to me is how Shintoism doesn't practice Idolatry in the strictest sense, the Hondens house sacred relics that represent the Kami but aren't viewed as being the Kami itself.
And, that access to the Honden is so restricted. Most Pagan Temples of antiquity certainly took precautions to protect their inner sanctum from being vandalized, but they wanted them to be open for the Public to see the Idol. A lot like the Lincoln Memorial or a Catholic Church. Often with the priests performing parlor tricks to make the Idol seem alive. But the Honden in Shintoism and the Holy of Holies in Mosaic Judaism, are strictly off limits to laymen.
The argued similarity between Shinto Shrines and Solomon's Temple partly interests me because I'm a Legend of Zelda fan. Playing Zelda games as a kid/teenager who knew nothing I know now about Shintoism I always felt the Temple of Time (particularly as it is in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess) seemed like the inner Sanctum of Solomon's Temple. With the main room you first enter being the Holy Place, the Altar of Time equating to the Altar of Incense, the Door of Time equating to the Veil, and the Room of Time being the Holy of Holies. With the Pedastool of Time being about where the Ark would be, or God's Throne in the Heavenly Temple in Revelation 4.
Of course that isn't the only area where I've read my Christianity into Zelda.
The architectural aesthetics of the Temple of Time being like a Medieval Catholic Church/Cathedral which often drew on The Temple's design are perhaps one reason for that. But now that I know more about Shintoism I think the design of a Shinto Shrine was likely a major influence. That the inner most room houses a sword (The Master Sword) is good evidence of that. The Relics housed in Hondens are usually either a Sword, a Mirror or a Stone of some kind, based on the imperial regalia of Japan.
But it is interesting that 1 Samuel 21:9 tells us the Sword of Goliath was kept behind the Ephod in the sanctuary of Ahimelech. The Sword of Goliath was probably much larger then The Master Sword being the Sword of... well... Goliath. It's size probably more comparable to The Biggoron Sword. However Cloud and Sephiroth's swords are too ridiculously huge to be practical weapons even for Goliath. British Israelism sometimes tries to make the Sword of Goliath become Excalibur of Arhturian Legend, with the Sword of Nuada (one of the four Treasures of the Tuatha de Danann) being an identity it took along the way.
One of the first aspects of Shintoism one might be likely to see in Japanese media is the Miko (Shrine Maiden). Rei Hino in Sailor Moon, the woman who sings that really long song to awaken King Ceaser in Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, Yuna in Final Fantasy X is like a Miko, the six Maidens in Legend of Zelda Four Swords Adventures are called Mikos in Japan. And there are some Animes with Miko in the title, one of which I'm hesitant to mention here.
The Miko doesn't usually come up discussing this topic because most people assume ancient Israel didn't have any kind of ceremonial virgin status. However my study of the word Almah conjectures it might have refereed to something like that. The Miko vow of Chastity is not life long which makes it more like what I've conjectured for the word Almah (because Mary was one) then either Vestal Virgins or Nuns. It seems that originally the Mikos served as Oracles or Prophetesses of some sort. The Bible does record there being Prophetesses in Ancient Israel, at least one of whom (Miriam the sister of Moses) is affiliated with the word Almah, and possibly a second given how you think Isaiah 7 ties into Isaiah 8.
The Far East usually sees Dragons as positive benevolent beings rather then monsters needing to be slain like in the West. The few exceptions, the few examples of seemingly evil Dragons in Eastern mythology are Japanese, Japan has the Benevolent type too of course. Now Evil Dragons don't have their sole origin in The Bible, but still this being a particular characteristic of Japan in contrast to it's neighbors is interesting. Video Games like Zelda and Final Fantasy and Anime like Escaflowne featuring Dragon Slaying are usually assumed to reflect a western influence, and while Arthurian style romance is a connection there, it may also be because it's not as alien to Shinto thinking as one might assume.
It is possible to look at Izanagi as an Adam figure, and Izanami as Havvah/Eve. I've talked about that when discussing Evangelion. Though upon further thought they seem more similar to the Kabbalistic concept of Adam Kadmon and Lilith, though I feel the Kaballists party gave Lilith significance that belongs to Eve. The traditional burial cite of Izanami is Mt. Hiba, a name that could come form Havvah/Eve.
I also can't help but suspect Beth-El is remembered in their legends. with the "Floating Bridge of Heaven" being Jacob's Ladder, and the "Pillar of Heaven" being Jacob's Pillow. Remember Beth-El was also called the "Gate of Heaven". And this part of the mythology is supposed to be before the islands of Japan were created.
It's also possible to see Amenominakanushi, Takamimusuhi and Kamimusuhi as possibly being a corruption of The Trinity (which I believe can be deduced from the Hebrew Bible alone). Takamimushi is attributed with the act of creating Mankind, but he made Ten original Humans from Mud rather then just one Adam. Takami is usually interpreted to mean Height or High, it could work as a Japanese translation of Elyon.
Now some websites comparing the Shinto pantheon to the Canaanite one (which the Israelites also backslid into worshiping, especially in the North) slip up I feel by comparing Amaterasu to Astarte or Asherah. Rather I feel an interesting similarity between the Canaanite and Shinto pantheons is having a female solar deity (Shapash/Amaterasu) and a male moon god (Jerah/Tsukuyomi), male moon gods are far from rare, in fact them being female is just about unique to the Greco-Romans. But females for the main personification of the sun are known to my knowledge only among the Canaanites, in Shinto and among western and northern European Celtic/Germanic/Norse mythologies which I think likely borrowed it from the Phoenicians and Dan. But among the European examples the sun goddess was never a leading deity of the pantheon, while Amatersau is often defined as the lead god of Shintoism. And The Bible does hint at Sun Worship being very popular at certain times at least. Like in the account of Josiah where we're told he tore down Sun worshiping altars.
There is even a specific myth the two solar goddesses have in common, involving her not shining for awhile until persuaded to shine again.
The comparison of Baal-Hadad to Susanoo is valid, though there are other Baal candidates among the Shinto Kami as well, but it's Susanoo who kills Orochi, an evil Dragon that resembled the Lotan of Ugarit, Lotan often gets compared to the Biblical Leviathan and Rahab.
Yomi could also be compared to Sheol.
After Izanami is dead and the main Shinto Kami come into the picture, Izanagi functions similarly to El in the Ugraic texts (and the Sumerian Anu), as a more distant ruling God who's offspring are fighting with each other over direct rule of the Earth. Ugarit had different kinds of gods as Baal's rivals though, Ugarit ultimately sided with Baal, but both can come off as a villains. Common motifs but different perspective.
Something else notable is when Wikipedia is explaining how the English "god" might be a flawed translation of Kami says.
The wide variety of usage of the word can be compared to the Sanskrit Deva and the Hebrew Elohim and the arabic Allah, which also refer to God, gods, angels or spirits.I think Sama or Kami-Sama makes a good translation of Adonai also.
Of the claims attributed to McLeod the most problematic is his imagined first Emperor Osee. The first Emperor of Japan according to known Japanese history and mythology is Jimmu, born in 711 BC and began his reign in 660 BC. McLeod claimed with no source that the first Emperor was Osee who began his reign in 730 BC. 730 BC is when Ussher dated the proper beginning of Hosea's reign as the last king of Northern Israel. Osee makes sense as a hypothetical Japanese form of Hosea, and McLeod would have likely used Ussher's dates.
Hosea is interesting. He did NOT continue the "Sins of Jeroboam" which was Idolatry, but did do evil, what that evil was isn't clarified. His death isn't recorded, he was taken into captivity in the deportation usually dated to 722 BC but which Ussher dates to 724-721 BC. He could have continued as a leader of his people in Exile like Jechoniah would during the Babylonian Exile, and later his descendants. We don't know how old he was at any point, it's possible he could have had a son in 711 BC and lived to 660 BC if he was like 30 in 730 BC. So it seems McLeod's intent was to imagine Hosea as the father of Jimmu but forgot to make all the pieces of his puzzle clear. Still there is no real evidence Osee came from anything other then his imagination.
But the name Oshi does exist, it's the name of a Castle in Japan that was the object of the Siege of Oshi in 1590. Searching this Wikipedia page it pops up in the lesser known names of many Japanese Emperors. Oshi is also the name of a Japanese Board Game. The instruction sheet of which links itself to Jimmu. Another similar name is Oshii. But that is a very tenuous connection for a likely fabricated story.
And now I've learned something I'd missed before. The Son of Amatersau and father of Ninigi who's said to be the first to travel to Japan, is named as Ame no Oshihomimi no Mikoto. The Oshi element is part of that name, and is in the only part that is the individual name (some references to him say only Oshihomimi). A Hebrew origin for Homimi could come from HaMem (The Mem), Mem being the name of a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. Memi is also an existing Jewish family name.
So if the traditional dates are a little exaggerated but not as much as most skeptics would say, particularly if you gave the dates for Jimmu to Ninigi. Then Oshihomimi can fit the time-frame of Hosea king of Israel perfectly. Maybe before the main Japanese sources were written 711-660-585 were remembered as the important dates of a founder figure, and assumed that was Jimmu and worked the rest of the chronology from there. Or maybe Ninigi and Jimmu were originally the same person, but an expanded genealogy was added to the mythology later. Or the generations between them were added, King Hosea could have had a son born around 734-730 BC who'd be old enough to reproduce in 711 BC, and he certainly could have had a Grandson reach adulthood by 660 BC.
The father of Oshihomimi was Susanoo, the Kami who is possibly equivalent to Baal. Hosea didn't engage in the Sins of Jeorboam, which means not Idolatry presumably. But he could have been given titles that referenced the Sun, and used the word Baal in the sense of it meaning Husband or Master/Lord. Or his parents may have been named Hadad and Sapash. Correction, at least one parent of King Hoshea is named in 1 Kings 15-17, Elah which could be interpreted to mean "goddess" in Hebrew, though it's normally taken to mean Oak or Elm.
The myths of the traditional ancestors of Jimmu are sometimes compared to the Patriarchs of Genesis. Ninigi fell in love with Konohanasakuya-hime, but her father wanted him to marry her older sister. The details playing out as similarly to Jacob as some make it sound I can't verify and have seen contradicted. A verifiable parallel between Hoori and Joseph I can't find.
Japanese theories, like Native American ones, will often make a key factor out of the Arzareth reference of II Esdras 13:45 where Hosea is Osea, which I talk about here.
I've decided I don't want to retread everything claimed on this subject elsewhere.
Now on to the Suwa-Taisha tradition. How it's usually presented is as follows.
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 Moriya."Because it seems this festival has, because of the modernization of Japan, ceased being practiced how it used to be, it is difficult to independently verify the details. It's considered odd because usually Animal Sacrifice wasn't a thing in Shintoism.
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.
The knife and sword used in the "Ontohsai" festival
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.
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.
My friend went to Israel and saw a Passover festival on Mt. Gerizim in Samaria. He asked a Samaritan priest how many rams were offered. The priest answered that they used to offer 75. This may have a connection with the 75 deer which were offered at Suwa-Taisha shrine in Japan.
(note, I've tried and failed to verify the Samaritans offering 75 Rams claim, and some sites repeating this claim on this subject say 75 lambs but I haven't verified that either. It reminds me of how 70 Bulls are offered during Tabernacles according to Numbers 29. But it is certainly true the Samaritan affiliate Unleavened Bread with the Offering of Isaac)
After a good deal of digging I have independently verified the mountain being called Moriya by finding these two websites.
And now I can add the Wikipedia page for Takeminakata.
There it is spelled Moreya-No-Kami (God of Moreya). And the Kanji used to spell it are given as 洩矢神(Mode Arrow Kami), but Google Translate seems to think the Moreya part is only pronounced Mo Ya. Which suggests the name as it's traditionally pronounced isn't natural to Japanese. This Wikipedia page is about how the the grander Japanese national mythology ties Suwa in, it doesn't tell us much about the local significance.
[[Update April 30th 2017: And now Moreya has it's own Wikipedia page. ]]
And the Deer affiliation I verified with these three sites
[[Update APril 30th 2017: and now a reference exists on Wikipedia.]]
I've found a Jewish website that lists Deer as being Kosher.
Deer definitely fit the requirements for qualifying as Clean laid out in Leviticus 11:3 and Deuteronomy 14:6. What's interesting about the above random Jewish site is that of all Land Animals considered Kosher, Deer is the only example listed that isn't specifically talked about in Numbers 28-29. Deuteronomy 14:4-5 does specifically mention Deer among many others however.
[Update: I've speculated that the Hebrew word for Ram could have become confused for a type of Deer, and the Song of Solomon's references to Roes, Harts and Hinds may be key to that. And I've also considered that the mistake went the other way.]
That the time of year for the festival is Spring Time I've verified here.
The precise ritual in question happening on specifically April 15th I have verified here.
Which I just noticed is one of the Links I already provided, I archived these months ago not all at the same time.
April is in Springtime, the Hebrew Month of Nisan usually happens in March and April, rarely it could spill over into May. The 15th of Nisan is Passover/First day of Unleavened Bread. The 14th is the day the Lamb is killed.
Jewish traditions suggesting the offering of Isaac happened at the same time that would later become Passover can be traced back to at least the book of Jubilees, where combining the information from Jubilees 17:15 and 18:3, places the offering of Isaac on either the 14th or 15th of Nisan. (Jubilees adds some Job inspired reason for what God does here that I don't approve of however.) Given what the offering of Isaac means to Christians, we should be very attracted to connecting it to Passover. April 15th is also while The Sun is in Aries The Ram (or used to be at least).
I found one example of the entire ritual being described Independent of making a Lost Tribes connection. It does compare it to the Offering of Isaac, but in the way scholars love to compare mythical motifs they don't really think are directly connected. Ritual Sacrifice Blood Redemption.
I found something online talking in-depth about the local customs, with no discussion of The Bible or Lost Tribes. Jomon Pottery Not all of it is available on the free preview, but the ritual in question seems to be alluded to on page 175 (I think it may be described in more detail on page 169 which I currently can't see). This book also confirms that Mishaguji was originally Mi-Saku-Chi, on page 178. The meaning speculated is Saku is blossoming, or manifesting the life-force under the soil or in the womb. In Hebrew Isaac (derived from Zachaq) means laugh, but the laughter of Sarah was because she didn't expect to be able to conceive a child.
So we have a name phonetically similar to Moriah, which in Hebrew is MoriYah, the right time of year, and the similarity of the ritual itself. I think that is an awful lot to be a coincidence.
One thing I want to add that usually isn't mentioned on this subject, the Suwa-Taisha area also has a sacred tree. It's unclear from what I've read if it's on the Mountain called Moryia or somewhere else. It's a purely conjectural hunch of mine that maybe the most ancient long forgotten origin of the veneration of that tree was it being identified with or used as a representation of the Tree of Life.
As far as my bringing up Japanese Media goes. One of the links verifying the name Moriya is about a video game franchise I'm not familiar with yet, Touhou. It seems interesting however. But it's a genre of games that don't suite me, and I'm not sure they've even been localized in the West. And I only have Nintendo systems.
So those are my thoughts on the subject. It's not something I'd consider definitively proven, but it's interesting.
Update October 2016: Tribe of Gad?
I decided I wanted to add to this my thoughts on something I read recently. It seems some link Japan specifically to Gad, or at least The Imperial Family.
The argument is mostly an old archaic name for The Emperor, Mikado, they point out the Mi in Japan is an honorary Prefix. I do know that the K and G sounds in Japanese can become confused, for example the Japanese word for God is usually spelled in our alphabet as Kami, but in compound words like Megami (Goddess) and Shinigami (god of death) or either Yagami the K is a G instead, though the Japanese Kanji for Kami is no different. But sometimes it's still a K in compound word like Mikami or Omikami or Okami. And an O or U at the end seems to be a common result of transliteration into Japanese.
What other sites I've read so far haven't pointed out is the Hebrew letter Mem can also be a prefix that means "from" or "from the". Example, Nahem mean "Comforter" and Menahem means "from the Comforter". So Megad/Migad would mean "from Gad".
Japan like many nations has had many alternate names for itself (Yamato though is strictly speaking just the largest island). Some names known are Jippon, Nippon and Niphon. One name the Chinese have called them is Zeppen. That has lead some to an argument that that name could come from Ziphion, Gad's firstborn son (Genesis 46:16).
Could this claim for the Imperial line overlap with the theories about them coming from Samaria's last King Hoshea discussed above? His tribal Identity isn't clearly stated, in fact it doesn't seem to be for many Kings starting with Omri. Hoshea may or may not be a native of Samaria, Samaria as the capital could have had a more diverse population then most Kings.
The earlier King Menahem is called Ben Gadi or "Son of Gadi", Gadi is the same in the Hebrew as "Gadite", so perhaps Gadi wasn't the personal name of his father but rather this phrase identifies him as a Gadite?
The house of Menahem does NOT like Jeroboam, Baasha or Ahab have a declaration that it's male line was or will be entirely blotted out. His son Pekahiah was killed in a coup by Pekah ben Remaliah. Pekah is later killed in a coup by Hoshea ben Elah. Could Hoshea have been of Menahem's house, that is often called the House of Gadi? Hoshea and Menahem both paid tribute to the same Assyrian King, Tiglath-Pileser.
Maybe Elah was Pekahiah's brother? Or Sister, ending with a Heh is usually grammatically feminine in Hebrew but our assumptions about some names forget that. Or maybe Elah was a wife of Menahem or Pekahiah?
We are repeatedly told there is more to the story in an alluded to Northern Kingdom counterpart to Chronicles, but it hasn't been preserved since it (being kept by a less faithful Kingdom) wasn't God's Word.
The idea of Kings coming from Gad is intriguing to me because I've noticed something about Moses Blessing on The Tribe of Gad in Deuteronomy 33:20-21 that most don't. It's a blessing that seems to imply Royal status, similar terminology to that used of Judah in Genesis 49:9-10. So Lost Tribes speculation aside that convinced me Samaria did have a Gadite dynasty.
Japanese Shinto Shrines tend to have Lion statues serving as mystical guards. Possibly connected to the two Lion statues that were before Solomon's throne (1 Kings 10:19 and I Chronicles 9:18), or to the Lion imagery in Gad's blessing. People comparing Shinto Shrines to the Temple will misquote those Solomonic references to make it sound like those Lions were in The Temple.
Lions being symbolic of Kingship isn't limited to Biblical symbolism. Whether or not it all traces back to the Lion of Judah is hard to determine. But it's interesting that a very notable example of that symbolism in modern Pop Culture is the Disney movie The Lion King. It being associated with Africa is interesting in-light of the Aksumite Royal family's claim of descent from Solomon. But what's interesting here is how that symbolism is among the things The Lion King has in common with Kimba The White Lion, the Anime franchise it clearly borrowed much from.
Below is taken from Britam's description of Gad given for the purpose of supporting their bias for European identifications, in this case Sweeden.
"Gad asserts himself. He is capable. He has a pioneeer initiating aspect. He is adventurous, enterprising, and concerned with material wealth sometimes at the expense of family considerations. Gad belongs to a group. Peer pressure is important to him. When you deal with someone from Gad chances are you will be impressed with their friendliness, with their letting you into their circle. The problem is that it will require an OK from the circle. Gad checks back with the group and prefers not to finally commit himself/herself unless the "group" also does. It is not only how Gad himself sees you. It can also be how Gad thinks the group will see you and how the both of you will fit in with the group.I feel like it happens to describe Japanese culture fairly well. In the sense that it can be read as describing an individual it could fit many Anime protagonists, I see a little of Tsukino Usagi in that description of Gad. Some of that kinda describes Anime itself.
Gad is open to others but prefers unions with his own kind as does everybody but with Gad it is even more so. Families from Gad have a tendency to split up yet retain contact over distance and time. Not everyone succeeds in this but those who can do it are to be congratulated. Family is important and valuable. Gad is also a "chopper", a "cutter-off". Gad knows how to chopp somebody off, to let them go. Gad is frisky and alive. Look at his stone. It contains the simplest and dullest of all colors yet it is attractive and dynamic. Gad can put life into the mundane. There is an aspect of innocence and eternal youth about Gad."
Does that fit Japan better then Sweeden? IDK, I've never watched a Sweedish cartoon. But I'd' say Sweeden is claiming to be Dan right in it's very name, like her cousin Denmark.
As far as Britan's desire to identify the Goths with Gad goes. I believe the Goths, Geats and Gautr descended from the Gutians of ancient Mesopotamia who descended from Gethur son of Aram son of Shem son of Noah.
I've already elsewhere criticized Britam's desire to associate Ephriam with Royalty.
I may in the future respond specifically to Britam's arguments for making Japan Edom.