The cultural connections between Japanese and ancient Israelite culture has been one of the most fascinating studies I have done. At first it sounds like an urban legend or something; Japan after all is over 6,800 miles (11,000 km) away from Israel, how could these two cultures have anything in common?
My first time to Japan it just so happened that I was doing a study on the first five books of the bible, the Torah, and began to notice very subtle similarities. For example, the usage of the Japanese word for foreigner, gaijin (外人). It usage is not limited to just those who are foreigners in Japan, but also includes anyone who is not Japanese. Even when I am in my home country of the United States, I am still considered gaijin by Japanese foreigners in the United States. This is the same world view ancient Israelites had, everyone who was not and Israelite was considered a foreigner, even if technically the Israelite was the foreigner in another country.
As I investigated further it became harder to discount that there was a link between Israel and Japan. I came across a book called “Rediscovering Japan, Reintroducing Christendom” by Samuel Lee. He explains that it is possible Israelites made it to Japan via the silk road after they where exiled from their land by the Assyrian Empire in 722BC. Lee also shows that there is compelling evidence that Christianity entered Japan in four stages over the past 2000 years and not just with in the past 500 years which is commonly believed, it was a very interesting read.
The possible connection between Japanese culture having ancient Israelite influence is something that Jewish people in Japan have noticed as well. The Ambassador to Japan from Israel, Eli Cohen, actually believes the Ark of the Covenant is somewhere in Japan. His interview in the following videos was broad-casted on Japanese television several years ago.
I finally found this broad-cast with English subtitles and am happy to bring parts 1 and 2 for you here. While I am not convinced that the Ark of the Covenant will be discovered in Japan as it leads you to consider, it does elaborate on some very interesting aspects of Japanese cultural connections to ancient Israel. The similarities of the language and the explanation of the Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) held in Kyoto are pretty amazing.