Japanese members of the church believe that much of the religion in Japan, mainly Buddhism, was influenced by Judaism carried over from Israel, long before the Portuguese came to the islands. This is a general story the majority of members believe in. In fact, it is so prevalent that in Japan I went to a priesthood leadership meeting one Saturday night where they compared and contrasted information about the Ark of the Covenant with Japanese artifacts, religious ritual pieces, and common knowledge. I also had one of my teachers in the Missionary Training Center, a Japanese convert, teach us a little about this myth. I even watched Japanese news reports/documentaries about this myth in one of my Japanese classes since being home.
This little article I found is a good summary about some of the general beliefs the Japanese hold concerning this myth. I find it very interesting; especially the end, where the government stopped anyone from excavating. That is a normal response in Japan. There are LOTS of places that archeologists want to excavate, but many have been cut off by the government. There are even ideas that in some of the Buddha statutes there are Jewish relics and symbols, but nobody can look inside to find them.
Check it out!
*I think it should be noted that in Japan I got to visit the Grave of Christ . . . Yeah . . . a town wanted to make a name for itself, and it’s sister town was in Israel so they combined heritage and had a hay-day. So who knows. :)