HomeLife in JapanJapanese Shinto Festivals linked to Hebrew Old Testament Traditions Log in

In midsummer Japan holds public festivals which are called in Japanese Omatsuri. One of the ceremonies in the festival is when men dressed in traditional Japanese garments carry an ornamental box that sits on two poles. The box is called Omikoshi. They carry the Omikoshi passing spectators while bouncing it up and down as everybody chants, “Wa shai! Wa shai! wa shai! … ” over and over! This word doesn’t even sound like a typical Japanese word. Most Japanese people do not know what it means. I heard it’s from Hebrew meaning “Let’s carry”

Carrying the OmikoshiJapanese carrying the Omikoshi

In the photos, ou can cann four men carrying the Omikoshi before the crowd<

On Aug. 5, 2006 while hitchhiking to downtown Niigata a young lady named Manami offered me a ride. She said that she worked in an care center for the elderly and today they were having a festival. She invited me to come. And so I accepted because my purpose to go out in the first place was to meet people downtown and make new friends.

From the website Israelites Came To Ancient Japan I knew that the Omikoshi in the festival was built somewhat similar to the Ark of the Covenant of God as described in the Old Testament of the Bible, and so this was my first opportunity to photograph it since reading the web page. The photograph of the Omikoshi below was taken in the elderly care center just before the start of the festival.

Three kinds of Omikoshi.

omikoshi-kanjiThe second character from the left of the ideograph is the Chinese / Japanese word for “God”. And so it would certainly seem safe to conclude that the Omikoshi has it’s roots in religious tradition. Most Japanese people today say they are non-religious, but you should see and hear them during festival time when four men carry the Omikoshi to the crowd of spectators and lean it over so they may touch it and thereby get a “blessing!” In fact, you can see them and even them hear them shout “Wa shai!” from this link! (A one minute two megabyte video file in .avi format.) Unfortunately the sound stops about half way, but you can clearly see the men carrying the Omikoshi and leaning it over toward the crowd to touch.

What the Bible says about the Ark of the Covenant:

1 Chronicles 15:25 So David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the house of Obededom with joy.
26 And it came to pass, when God helped the Levites that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that they offered seven bullocks and seven rams.
27 And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen.
28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.

The Bible also says that the Ark was supported by two poles or “staves”.

Exodus 25:10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.

I want to tell you, in my humble opinion from the short video clip I took, when you hear the people shout “wa shai!” over and over in a joyful tone of voice, I don’t see how anybody can say that the tradition of the Omikoshi is not related to the time when “David, and the elders of Israel … went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the house of Obededom with joy.” Does this indicate that the Japanese are descendants of the ancient Hebrews? It certainly seems so to me. I think at least some of them are. At the very least I think the Shinto religion on which the Omikoshi is based has its roots in Judaism.

At the festival I met a Japanese Christian lady. I asked her if she realized that the Omikoshi is a tradition that came from the children of Israel as described in the Old Testament. She replied that she hasn’t been a believer that long and didn’t know. I encouraged her to read her Bible.

Miss Manami, the lady who picked me up and took me to the festival.

Miss Manami, the lady who picked me up and took me to the festival.

Man beating a drum called taiko in Japanese. In the back of him is the elevated stage that Manami was standing on.

Man beating a drum called taiko in Japanese. In the back of him is the elevated stage that Manami was standing on.

A little girl dressed in a tradition robe called a <i>yukata</i>. This is different, (and certainly less expensive!) than a kimono.

A little girl dressed in a tradition robe called a yukata. This is different, (and certainly less expensive!) than a kimono.

Copyright © 2015 by James Arendt

Be Sociable, Share!

About James Arendt

Born in 1950 and raised in Chicago Illinois, USA.
Served in the USAF from 1970 in San Antonio, Texas, Biloxi Mississippi, Sacramento California and Asaka, Japan and honorably discharged in 1974.
Became a full time missionary for Christ and served in Russia, China and Japan for 44 years and counting.
Lives by faith in God's supply with no fixed job or income.
More about the webmaster.

I need your help to keep this website going! I would like to upgrade to better and faster web-hosting at WpEngine https://wpengine.com. Better and faster hosting means better Google rankings and more visitors. At $348.00 a year at WpEngine, I cannot afford to upgrade at this time. I currently pay 70 bucks a year for el cheapo hosting. In the past, this website often crashed on the server.

If you find anything on this site that is a blessing to you, please help support it with a gift. My PayPal account is
[email protected]
When I get enough money, I will move this website to WpEngine. And if you sent me a donation, you will be immediately notified about the upgrade to better hosting. Thank you.


Japanese Shinto Festivals linked to Hebrew Old Testament Traditions — 5 Comments

  1. Thank you dear Brother! And let’s keep praying this internet keeps workign while the govt. is pushing to regulate everything! I’m sure the Enemy is threatened by something the Lord wants to do through it. Can’t wait to see what else God has up his sleeve! You have tons of great articles here. Any in particular you’d like recorded and posted up on youtube? It’s just audio, but I have 1300 subscribers and it’ll get some attention, I suppose. Lots of people find things on youube they otherwise wouldn’t go read elsewhere, so this has been my latest experiment.

    Just let me know if there are any specific articles you’d like to have up on youtube, and I’ll link to your site!

    Blessings from Taiwan!

    • Michael, from the recent articles I have been posting, you might know I’m really into the historicist interpretation of Bible prophecy these days. This is opposed to what is called “futurism”, i.e. the concept that the Antichrist is a single man coming only in the future, the last 7 years of man’s rule on earth just before Jesus comes. I used to believe this for it is what DBB taught us, and I still love him, but now I think dear Dad was misled by Jesuit doctrine that seeped into Protestant churches. It was the early Protestant interpretation of Daniel 9:27 that really convinced me of that. Please see http://jamesjpn.net/basic-bible/eschatology/the-70th-week-of-daniel-delusion That article is among the list of featured articles you can find in the side bar of my website. That or any of the featured articles would be cool if you want to share them on your YouTube channel.

      • very interesting, I’m open to seeing other interpretations and will do so later when I have the time. I finally got around to editing together a short video with the above, of course I ended up commenting on a lot of things, sorry for running off on a tangent! Other people are enjoying the content though and it’s a lot of fun to continue to explore and discover more of the mysteries in the Word together!


  2. Tremendous! I had similar experiences which I’d love to share on this, that there are ancient Hebrew roots in Japan regarding their festivals. Can I repost this to my site with a link? Also I’d love to make a youtube video with the audio just reading your page and adding your pictures. What do you think, Brother James? GBY!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available