Tuesday, December 14, 2010








The practice of self-mummification (a form of suicide) has been outlawed for some time now in Japan. But at one time, it was practiced greatly, particularly in Northern Japan. Causing their own deaths, Buddhist monks or priests would undertake (no pun intended) a very long and painful process. This practice is called Sokushinbutsu. According to Wikipedia.org, it is, "believed that many hundreds of monks tried, but only between 16 and 24 such mummifications have been discovered to date."


The Procedure
The procedure lasted less than 3 years (1,000 days).  The priests or monks (according to Wikipedia.org) would, "eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another thousand days and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap a tree, normally used to lacquer bowls."

Vomiting, Poison and No Maggots
"This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids, and most importantly, it made the body too poisonous to be eaten by maggots. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive," as stated in the Wikipedia article.

No More Bell-Ringing
"When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed. After the tomb was sealed, the other monks in the temple would wait another 1,000 days and open the tomb to see if the mummification was successful.," as stated in Wikipedia.

"If the monk had been successfully mummified, they were immediately seen as a Buddha and put in the temple for viewing," according to Wikipedia.


A 30-Second Video Showing Some of the Mummies.


Although this may not be a "beautiful" thing to look at, it is viewed as highly respectable in Japan. When it comes to religions, one cannot simply dismiss the beauty of how far one will go to prove his/her love and devotion to their God(s).


With warmest regards,

Christina E. Pietrowski

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