Shingo calling

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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.

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