Religion has fueled many a travel trend throughout recorded
history. Pilgrimages to shrines such as Lourdes and Fatima, Easter
mass at St. Peter's in Rome, even the centuries-long bloodbath
known as The Crusades are but a few examples of how the pursuit of
spiritual fulfillment has moved people, literally, the world over.
A comparatively recent development in the niche market of
religious travel is taking place in a tiny Japanese village called
Shingo. Located in a remote area of northeast Japan, Shingo is
gaining notoriety as the supposed burial place of Jesus. Documents
uncovered in 1935 describe the location of two graves, believed by
many to be those of Jesus and his brother.
The 1,900-year-old scrolls describing the two tombs were
confiscated by the Japanese government before World War II and are
thought to have been destroyed during the subsequent bombing of
Tokyo, but Kiyomaro Takeuchi, who found the documents, made copies
before surrendering them to authorities.
Tourists have been flocking to the area and a flurry of new Web
sites, such as the Jesus in Japan pages, are turning Shingo into a
full-fledged phenom. Attention tour operators: Better start
planning a Shingo package. You're gonna get calls.