Showing posts with label deity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deity. Show all posts


NORTH . Kitamuki and Kimon

[ . BACK to Daruma Museum TOP . ]
. kimon 鬼門の鬼伝説 Oni Demon Gate Legends .

Kitamuki Fudo ... 北向き不動 ...
Fudo facing North

北向きのお不動さん , 北向不動
kita-muki, kita muki
The north is considered an un-auspicious region and needs protection from real and imagined enemies, fiends and demons.  
The deity usually associated with the NORTH is

Bishamonten 毘沙門天
Vaishravana ~ Heavenly King of the North

Tortoise (Black Warrior) = North, Winter, Black, Water 
Genbu 玄武

More is here
- - Four Directions (toozai nanboku)- -
East, West, North, South


Kimon, the "Demon Gate" 鬼門,
Chinese geomancy (Ch: feng shui), a system for determining auspicious or inauspicious placements and orientations of cities, temples, houses, and graves. In Chinese thought, the northeast quarter is considered to be particularly inauspicious. The northeast direction is known as the "demon gate," which can be loosely translated as the place where "demons gather and enter." This belief was imported by the Japanese and is referred to as Kimon (literally "Demon Gate").
Kimon generally means ominous direction, or taboo direction. In Japan, both the monkey and the fox are guardians against evil Kimon influences.

In Japan, the monkey's role in guarding against demons originates from the Japanese word for monkey (猿, pronounced saru), which is a homonym for the Japanese word "expel" (去る, also pronounced saru). The latter word means to "dispel, punch out, push away, beat away."
source :  MONKEY IN JAPAN / Mark Schumacher

CLICK for enlargement
© PHOTO : taishi

The KIMON for the city of Kyoto was the double-peaked Mt. Hiei.
. WKD : Hieizan Temple Enryakuji 比叡山延暦寺  
See the haiku of Issa below.

Kimon Konjin 鬼門金神
was another powerful deity of the North-East (ushitora, ox-tiger).
WKD : The Deity of Metal, Konjin

CLICK for .. Japanese wikipedia article

His heavenly direction changes with every year and if you do something to displease him, he will kill seven people (nanasatsu 七殺) (even your neighbours) to show his wrath.

There were four days, one in each season, in his honor where you had to be especially careful not do anything to anger this deity.
ox day in spring, monkey day in summer,
sheep day in autumn, cock day in winter

Photo source : 神霊の思頼
CLICK for enlargement !


Fudo Myo-O is also one of the
krodha-devata, krodhadeva - minor Indian deities, 10 deities of direction.
In this group, Fudo Myo-O governs the North-East.


Let us look at some Fudo Myo-O, facing North !


At the temple Fudo-Ji 不動寺 in Kyoto.
It is also called Matsubara Fudo 松原不動.

Emperor Kanmu Tenno 桓武天皇 had four "Iwakura" Sacred Stone Areas constructed in Kyoto, one for each heavenly direction. This temle was in the south : 南岩倉 明王院不動寺.
Today the temple is rather small and looks almost like a normal old house.

CLICK for origina LINK ..

There is also another temple in South Iwakura, Konzo-Ji (Konzooji) 金蔵寺, with a famous "Ichigan Fudo" .

This temple is on the northern side of Matsubara Road. Its original function was to protect the capital against demons and evil from the the Northern Side.

Its statue is also called :
"Holy Fudo", Daishoo Fudo 大聖不動

CLICK for original LINK ... ~mamama/kyoto

The Four Iwakura Temples




南岩倉:不動寺 this one

sources : ”北向き不動”

CLICK for more photos


Kitamukizan Fudo-In 北向山不動院 - Fushimi
Fushimi 伏見区竹田浄菩提院町61
61 Takeda Jobodaiincho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto

CLICK for more photos !

It is in the 鬼門 Kimon direction to protect the Imperial Palace.

source :

- - - - - Chant of the temple
はるばると したいきたれる きたむきざん 
いままのあたり おがむうれしさ

harubaru to shita ikitareru Kitamukizan
ima manoatari ogamu ureshisa

The temple was built in 大治5年(1130)on order of Emperor Toba 鳥羽上皇 / 鳥羽天皇 (1103 - 1156) by Saint Kakuban 覚鑁 (1095 - 1143)

Nr. 22 in the pilgrimage of Kinki

. Kinki Fudo Pilgrimages .


Temple Ho-On In 報恩院
Osaka 大阪市中央区高津1-2-28

This temple had been burned down during WW II and even the Fudo statue as we see it today shows signs of severe burning.
It now stands facing North under a large camphor tree.

On the other side is another statue facing south,
Minamimuki Fudo 南向き不動尊

CLICK for original LINK ...
source :

Tempel Number 5 of the Kinki Fudo Pilgrimage


At Otsu Town

© PHOTO : 月光山洗心庵


Temple Ensho-Ji (Enshoji) , Iruma City, Saitama

The "Fudo facing North" has its own hall 北向き不動堂 to the left of the main gate. It was re-constructed in the year 1779. Now the roof tiles have been changed to copper.



MORE kitamuki Fudo

sources : ”北向き不動”


Fudo protecting the North-East Demon Gate
Kimon Yoke no Fudo

In Kamakura, Juniso
This was in the North-East direction of Kamakura, the old capital of Japan.
... Kamakura, a Haiku Town in Japan


Jizo facing North
Kitamuki-Jizo 北向き地蔵

A long time ago, the Ikuta River flowed south from the intersection of Kano-cho along Flower Road. One year, when there was a severe rain, people moved busily about on the riverbanks, stacking sandbags to reinforce weak spots. "Is the bank OK over there?"

"Hey, over here, the bank upstream is about to break!" Several people grabbed sandbags and rushed upstream. The rain, continuing for several days, caused the dirty water of the Ikuta River to increase, and the flow was strong. There were several spots along the banks that looked like they would break soon, but as night fell there were no more sandbags left for reinforcement.

The exhausted people went into the watch lodge on the hill by the bank, where they sat with extreme fatigue. Then they heard sounds of something dragging, then a booming sound, then something rubbing against something else. It sounded like something heavy was being dragged; the sound came from the direction of the river. Another dragging sound, then the sound of something heavy falling in to the water, then water gurgling… It sounded as if something was sinking into the river.

However, the villagers were too tired to go back outside, and one by one fell asleep. When morning came, they found that the sky had cleared and the sun was shining. People got up, went outside to look at the banks, and exclaimed. "Oh my, look there! There's a big tree stuck there, and the bank looks ready to give way!"

"The bank has been reinforced with a big rock." "Look, the Kitamuki-Jizou is on top of the rock!" "That sound we heard last night was the doings of Kitamuki-Jizou. He came to fix the weakened bank. He protected our village."
The thankful people built a hall enshrining Kitamuki-Jizou west of Ikuta River.
source :  kobe city chuo ward

CLICK for more photos
Kitamuki Jizo

Read this essay:
Wayside Shrines at Urban Train Stations:
Religion at the Crossroads
Kitamuki Jizo at Umeda, Osaka


Kannon Bosatsu facing North
Kitamuki Kannon 北向き観音

CLICK for more photos


Kitamuki Hachiman Shrine 北向八幡宮
Suma, Kobe City
It was built in 1484.

CLICK for more photos


. . . . . . . . . . H A I K U

By Kobayashi Issa

tobi no su mo kimon ni motsu ya hie no yama

the black kite's nest, too
in the unlucky direction...
Mount Hie

tori no su mo kimon ni tatsu ya hie no yama

the bird's nest, too
in the unlucky direction...
Mount Hie

myôjô ya io no kimon no ume no hana

morning star--
on my hut's unlucky side
plum blossoms

More KIMON haiku
Tr. David Lanoue

WKD : Morning Star


. kimon 鬼門の鬼伝説 Oni Demon Gate Legends .

Four Directions (toozai nanboku)East, West, North, South

. Onipedia 日本の鬼 The Demons of Japan .

. Oni 鬼 Demon Amulets .


. Zodiac Animals and Japanese Folk Toys .





[ . BACK to Daruma Museum TOP . ]

Fudo Myo-O at temple Daigoji 醍醐寺 Daigo-Ji

PHOTO :, 2008

Seated Fudō Myōō
Kaikei, Kamakura period, 1203 (Kennin 3)
Polychrome wood

Temple Treasures of a Sacred Mountain Daigo-ji -
The Secret Buddhism in Japan

25 April to 24 August 2008, Bonn Germany

Shingon Buddhism
The exhibition is an introduction to Shingon Buddhism and presents the Daigo-ji temple as a key cultural heritage site. It demonstrates the way in which religion reverberates through art and history. The unfamiliar pictorial language that characterises much of Esoteric or Secret Buddhism is examined in the context of its religious teachings in order to elucidate the roots of its symbolism and its ritual significance.

The art of Shingon Buddhism often seems confusing because of the large number of Buddhas and the unusual forms they take. By focusing on those figures of the pantheon that are relevant in the context of the Daigo-ji temple, the exhibition provides an insight into the basic structure of Shingon imagery.
©, 2008


醍醐寺 不動明王

CLICK for more photos of Daigo-ji

In 874, a Buddhist monk Shobo, who is known under his posthumous name of Rigen Daishi (the Great Master of Holy Treasures), built a hermitage to which Kannon (Avalokitesvara) statues of Juntei and Nyoirin were dedicated on the top of the Kamidaigo mountain where he discovered a well of the spiritual water named Daigo through an inspiration from a local god Yokoo Daimyojin. This is the origin of Daigoji temple. After a while pious supports of Emperor Daigo (897-930), Suzaku (930-46), and Murakami (946-67) contributed to development of Daigoji temple complex.

In 907, for instance, the Yakushi hall was constructed to fulfill the imperial wish of Emperor Daigo. The temple complex of Kamidaigo (the upper part of Daigo) was completed by construction of the Godai hall. Consequently a plan of the Shimodaigo (the lower part of Daigo) complex was carried on. The Sakyamuni hall built in 926 and the five-storied pagoda built in 951 were consisted of the prototype of the Shimodaigo temple complex.

Since then Daigoji has played an important role as a main temple of Shingon school Ono branch in a history of Japanese Buddhism. Moreover, it might be worthwhile to note that many politicians in power have had a close family relationship with this temple. For instance, the linage of Minamoto Toshifusa, called Daigo Minamoto family, were the heads of this temple for many generations. Minamoto Toshifusa is known for having seized power instead of Fujiwara family in the late Heian period.

When his son Shokaku was the head of the temple, the temple complex of both Kamidaigo and Shimodaigo was more developed and the Sanboin was constructed in 1115. From his time on Daigoji temple had enjoyed its prosperity. However, Daigoji temple suffered from several fires. The fire especially caused by Onin and Bunmei wars in Kyoto city destroyed the Shimodaigo complex except the five-storied pagoda. It is fortunate that nowadays we can see the pagoda built in 951. In Kamidaigo complex the Juntei hall is well known as the eleventh place of the pilgrimage in the Western part of Japan and the Godai hall is as the center of the Godai-san faith.

The treasures in Daigoji which amount to more than a hundred thousand are preserved in Reihokan. Some of them are exhibited to the public in spring and autumn.

Hanami Parade.
On the secound Sunday of April
In the spring of 1598 Toyotomi Hideyoshi organized a gorgeous Hanami (Cherry-blossom viewing) party. Participants of the party amounted about 900, in which Hideyoshi's wife Kitanomandokoro, his son Hideyori, Hideyori's mother Yodo, several Daimyos and Shomyos, and so on, were included. This can be regarded as the last splendour of the person in power, for Hideyoshi died at the same year.

Read more here on the English HP of Temple Daigoji

CLICK for more photos of the Waterfall

Fudo Waterfall at Temple Daigo-Ji

- quote -
Daigo-Sui 醍醐水 Daigosui water
Sweet Taste of Spring Water
Daigoji Temple in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, is now selling "Daigo-Sui," or Daigo spring water, which is bottled groundwater pumped from a well in the temple's precincts.

Daigoji Temple has a legend that Rigen-daishi, the temple's founder, was moved to say, "This is really delicious." after drinking the water of a spring in the mountains, and resolved to spread Buddhism. In 2009, the bottles were first given away as commemorative gifts for invited guests who attended the memorial service of the 1,100th anniversary of Rigen-daishi's death, and gained popularity. As a result, the temple decided to make them available commercially.

"Daigo-sui" is soft water that has passed Kyoto City water quality inspection. A 300-milliliter bottle costs 200 yen, and can be bought at the shop in the precincts or by mail order. The water intake from the well is limited at up to 5,000 or 10,000 bottles per month.
- source : -


Guide to Kami-Daigo(the upper part of Daigo)
Guide to Shimo-Daigo (the lower part of Daigo)
Guide to Sanboin

Fudodo, Goma-dojo
Five statues of Myo-o (Vidyaraja), with Fudo Myo-o (Acalanatha) in the center, are enshrined in Fudodo Hall. At Goma-dojo in front of Fudodo, the Saitogoma ceremony is performed by Tozan-ha mission practitioners of Shugen-do to pray for various concerns including world peace.

- source :


紙本墨画不動明王像 altogether 5 paintings

不動明王像(三幅) 信海筆
Shinkai, painter of the Kamakura period

Toba Soojoo 鳥羽僧正 Toba Sojo

Look at one more scroll here
Chooga 長賀 Choga - 宅磨長賀 Takuma Choga, painter of the Kamakura period
- source :

. banjakuza, iwaza, ganza 盤石座, 岩座
stone pedestal for Fudo .


The bent Fudo .. Yojiri Fudo . よぢり不動
by Buddhist Painter Yoshihide 絵仏師良秀

CLICK for original LINK

(醍醐寺蔵 良秀様 不動明王図像)

The painter of this work ran out of his burning home to look at the flames, leaving wife and child to perish, but he painted the flames of Fudo !
The painting is in the store of Daigo-Ji.

............................ I found the story here also:

Long, long ago there lived an old artist in a town. His specialty was to paint images of Buddha; especially Fudo Myo-o---the Buddhist Divinity of Fire.

One day he was painting as usual. He concentrated his attention on his work. The Buddha he was working on was almost finished, but he wasn't satisfied with it. He sat at the picture all day, took a look at it, and added a blush or two, and took another look, one more blush was added...
It was windy that night. Suddenly a fire broke out from the neighboring house.
"Fire! Fire!" his wife panicked and cried.

But the artist was still gazing at his picture with a frown and arms crossed. Soon the fire started attacking his house. The smoke came into his room with the sounds of burning. No time to escape! His wife pulled his sleeve desperately, and cried frantically,

"Get out, or you'll be burned to death!"
The husband said to her calmly,

"Wait! I have to finish this work." He brushed her hand aside and kept on staring at the picture. Then there was a big sound! Part of the roofs was burned to the ground.
"Wow," the wife jumped out of the room in a hurry.

The flame caught his picture. The artist came to himself and rushed out of the burning house. He had a very narrow escape from the fire. Then he stood on the other side of the street to watch his house burning. An hour later, it burned down completely.

"We feel great sorrow for you." the neighbors consoled him for his bad luck.
"......." he didn't answer them, but kept looking at the ruins.
People came to him one after another to express their sympathy, but he said nothing. It looked like he had been meditating. His wife was worried about him and spoke to him nervously,
"What happened to you? Are you all right?"

He babbled something to her and smiled. Seeing him, many people there thought that he had gone mad because he had lost his house.
His wife asked him again,
"Are you all right?"
Then he said to her rather clearly,

"I've kept painting for many years. But I was never completely satisfied with my work. Thanks to this fire, I've learned something important. It was a wonderful experience for me."
Somehow he looked happy. People around him calmly listened to him.

"As you know I've painted images of Buddha with flames on his back. Now I should say the way I painted the flames was wrong. I've just learned how to paint the flames for the first time in my life. That's an eye opener for me. I can't wait to paint a new image of Buddha. This experience will add a new perspective into my picture."

Fudo Myo-o---its appearance is impressive, the angry face is scared. But inside the Buddha is full of love to people who are agonizing. The Buddha tries to give them a hand with a sword in its right hand, a rope in his left hand. The flames on his back show they will burn people's 108 worldly desires.

The images of Fudo Myo-o he painted from then on drew people's attention. They said his images seemed to sit in the real burning flames to save people. They wanted to have one since just looking at the images, they felt relieved. Soon he made enough money to rebuild a bigger house.
The Buddha painter Yoshihide was ranked among the most gifted artists at that time.
© (2007.6.1 With Itaya)


From the Daruma Museum

Seiryuu Gongen at temple Daigo-Ji 清瀧権現, 醍醐寺
Clear Dragon Deity

Godairiki-San 五大力さん

At temple Daigo-Ji 醍醐寺
February 23.

This festival is a type of the Ninnoo-e 仁王会(にんのうえ) ritual, performed at the temple Daigoji. It shows elements of the rituals for the five gread Fudo godai myo-o 五大明王.
. "Godairiki-san" or
Festival of the Five Powerful Deities .

source : facebook
Poster at Kyoto Station in 2014

. Godai Myo-O 五大明王 Five Great Myo-O
Godai-son 五大尊 Five Great Wisdom Kings .


Kukai was a friend of Saicho and traveled to China in 802, the same year Saicho did.

?? Kukai Kobo Daishi and Saicho both stayed at Daigo-Ji for some time, but then took separate ways to establish their own sects, Shingon and Tendai.

A stone statue of Fudo Myo-O from the temple, said to be carved by Kukai himself, was brought to the Kanto area to bring peace to the region and marks the beginning of Narita Fudo in Chiba.

. Narita Fudo 成田不動尊 .
新勝寺 Temple Shinsho-Ji, Chiba


daigomi 醍醐味 "taste of Daigo"

- quote -
Daigo (dairy product)
Daigo was a type of dairy product made in Japan during the 10th century.
The first mention of this word was in Nirvana Sutra.

譬如從牛出乳 從乳出酪 從酪出生蘇 從生蘇出熟蘇 從熟蘇出醍醐 醍醐最上
— 『大般涅槃経』

From cows to fresh milk;
fresh milk to cream;
cream to curdled milk;
curdled milk to butter;
butter to ghee (daigo).
Daigo is the best.

- Nirvana Sutra

This is the origin of the word, daigo-mi (醍醐味), which means a superb flavor.
Emperor Daigo encouraged the production of so and other cheese-like products. His name origin is thought to be based on the above text. Daigo is thought to have come from China, but it is no longer made in either China or Japan.
- source : wikipedia -

daigomi mo sasuga ni Tosa no funaryoori

such delicious taste !
yes indeed this is
the food on board in Tosa

Iino san 飯野鳴潮

. WASHOKU - Food from Kochi / Tosa .

. so そ 蘇(そ)酥 / 蘇 milk products of old .
daigo 醍醐 is the fifth of our five tasts (gomi 五味).
It symbolizes something very much at the top, in Buddhism even satori or enlightenment.


- #daigoji



[ . BACK to Daruma Museum TOP . ]
七天狗 - Seven Tengu, see below

Hitokotonushi 一言主
Local people also call this deity in the temple: Ichigonji san
いちごんじさん, 一言寺.

The Shrine for Hitokotonushi 一言主神社
Katsuraki, Katsuragi, Kazuraki, Kazuragi, Hitokotonoshi
Dedicated to Hitokotonushi no kami, or literally the God of One Word, who is referred to in the Nihon Shoki Chronicles. The god only grants requests made in one word or one request for each person praying to him. Others say in his oracles he only utters only one word of good or bad.

In fall, the sight of the tall ginkgo tree leaves turning yellow is breathtaking. In the precinct are Kumozuka, or spider mound, whose origin is in the Nihon Shoki, and a monument inscribed with a haiku poem by the travelling poet Basho Matsuo.

© Text and Photo: Katsuragi Kodoo 葛城古道

Hitokotonushi is most probably identical with

Kotoshironushi 事代主(ことしろぬし、言代主神)
Yae Kotoshironushi 八重言代主神、八重事代主神(ヤエコトシロヌシ)
a deity known for its oracle powers, spreading the word of the gods among the people.

Hitokotonushi was the "God of the Rice Paddies" from Katsuragi area.
In olden times, there were five famous shrines in the Katsuragi area.

The word "KOTO 言" in the name of this deity means "Oracle".

Ta no Kami, God of the Rice Fields and Haiku 田の神さま


source : facebook


Katsuragi no hitokotonushi no ōkami (Kojiki)

A god (kami) appearing on Mount Katsuragi, near the border of Yamato and Kawachi Provinces, and who could utter oracles of good or evil with the decisive speaking of a "single word" (hito-koto). The central deity (saijin) of the Hitokotonushi Shrine in Katsuragi, Katsurakami District, Yamato Province (present-day Nara Prefecture).

According to Kojiki, when Emperor Yuryaku climbed Mount Katsuragi with his many courtiers, they encountered another troupe having identical appearance. Enraged, the emperor readied his arrow and asked for the names of those in the opposing group. The leader of the group responded,

"I am Hitokotonushi no kami of Katsuragi,
who proclaims evil in a single word,
good in a single word."

Upon hearing this, the emperor and his courtiers removed their garments and offered them to the kami. Similar stories are found in Nihongi and Shoku Nihongi; the version in Nihongi reflects ancient beliefs in hermetic mountain wizards.

© Matsunaga Naomichi, Kokugakuin University.


(かつらぎひとことぬしじんじゃ)Shrine Hitokotonushi
The great Gingko Tree

© PHOTO Teranishi 寺西


En no Gyooja (E no ubasoku) , the famous mountain ascetic around 700.
He is famous for roaming the area of Mt. Katsuragi.

Here is one old legend:
E no ubasoku was of the Kamo-no-enokimi family, presently the Takakamo-no-asomi family. He came from the village of Chihara, Upper Kazuraki district, Yamato province. By nature he was endowed with wisdom; he excelled in learning and attained ultimate knowledge. He lived with reverence and faith in the Three Treasures. His greatest desire was to fly on a five-colored cloud beyond the sky and play in the garden of eternity with the guests of the heavely palace, lying in the flowering garden and sucking the vital force out of the haze to nourish his nature.

Accordingly, in his late forties he went to live in a cave, wore clothing made of vines, drank the dewdrops on pine needles, bathed in pure spring water to rinse away the filth of the world of desire, and learned the formula of the Peacock to attain extraordinary power. Thus he could employ spirits and gods at his command at his command.

Once he summoned them all and ordered them, "Make a bridge between Kane-no-take and Kazuraki-no-take." Hitokotonushi no Okami, who was very ugly, only ventured out at night to help. But the gods were not happy about the bridge building, and in the reign of the emporer residing at Fujiwara Palace, Hitokotonushi no Okami of Kazuraki-no-take was possessed and slandered him, saying, "E no ubasoku plans to usurp the throne." The emporer dispatched messengers to capture him, but they found it hard to take him due to his mysterious power, so they captured his mother instead. In order that his mother might be freed, he gave himself up.

He was exiled to the island of Izu. One time his body went floating on the sea as if he were walking on land. Again, his body perched on a mountain ten thousand feet high and looked like a huge phoenix in flight. In the daytime he stayed on the island in accord with the emporer's command, but at night he went to Fuji-no-take [Mt. Fuji] in Suruga to practice austerities.

As he prayed for pardon from his severe punishment and for permission to return to the capital, he lay down on the blade of an assassin's sword and ascended Mt. Fuji. Three years passed in ascetic practice after he was exiled to the island. At the turn of the eighth year of the ox, the first year of the Taiho era, he was pardoned and approached the capital, finally becoming a saint and flying to heaven.

Dharma Master Dosho of our country received an imperial order to go to Great T'ang China in order to search out Buddhist teachings. On the request of five hundred tigers he went to Silla to lecture in the mountains on the Hoke-kyo. At that time there was a man among the tiger who raised a question in Japanese. The monk asked, "Who are you?" and the man answered, "E no ubasoku." The monk thought that the man was a Japanese sage and came down from his high seat to inquire about him, but he was gone.

Hitokotonushi no Okami was bound with a spell by E no gyoja, and he has not escaped even to this day. E no ubasoku did so many miraculous deeds that we cannot enumerate them all. Indeed we learn that Buddhist miraculous arts are comprehensive. Those who have faith will attain them without fail.
© nichirens

Zenkiboo Zenkibō 前鬼坊 Zenkibo
大峰山前鬼坊 Ominesan Zenki-Bo, to become a Tengu
and his wife Goki 後鬼.
吉野 Yoshino 

役行者 En no Gyôja
tried to convince the local Shinto deity, Hitokotonushi,
to help him build a 石橋 stone bridge extending from Mt. Katsuragi to Mt. Yoshino.
Hitokotonushi only worked during the night and hid his face during the daytime. Thus En no Gyoja became angry at the slow pace of the god's work, and threw him into a valley. The angry god then petitioned the emperor to send armies after En no Gyôja, to arrest him, claiming that the monk sought to rebel against the throne. Gyôja escaped the armies easily, flying away on his clouds, but, after they captured his mother instead, he was forced to surrender himself.
He was exiled to Izu Ôshima, but escaped his exile, flying to Mt. Fuji. .....

大和葛城山久米の岩橋伝説 -
The Legend of the Stone Bridge at Kume, Katsuragisan
- reference source : -

Click HERE to see more photos !

. 那智滝本前鬼坊 - Zenkibo, Nachinotakimoto - Nara .


Kootenboo 葛城高天坊 - Katsuragi Kotenbo

He is one of the
. 四十八天狗 48 important Tengu of Japan .

He is venerated as 天狗魔王尊 Tengu Mao Son at mount Tengudake.
He is the boss of the 畿内七天狗 seven Tengu of the Kinai districts around Kyoto.
. 護法魔王尊 Gohoo Maoo Son .
at Mount Kurama 鞍馬山.

天狗岳 Mount Tengudake, - 558 m - also called
燈明ヶ岳 Tomyogadake,. 犬鳴山 Inunakisan, 天狗魔王岳 Tengu Maodake

source :

Tengu Mao Son is the boss of the Kinai Shichi Tengu 畿内七天狗 seven Tengu of the Kinai district around Kyoto.
Mentioned in the 天狗経 Tengu Sutra:
The others are

鞍馬の僧正坊 - Sojo-Bo from Kurama
愛宕山の太郎坊 - Taro-Bo from Mount Atago
笠置山の大僧正 - Daisojo from Kasagizan
熊野大峯の菊犬坊 - Kikujo-Bo from Kumano Omine
吉野の皆杉小桜坊 - Kozakura-Bo from Yoshino Minasugi
那智滝本の前鬼坊 - Zenki-Bo from Nachi
高野山の高林坊 - Korin-Bo from Koyasan

. 転法輪寺 Tenporin-Ji .
Demukae Fudoo-son 出迎え不動明王
To pray for the safety of the climb to the shrine Katsuragi Jinja on top of the mountain.

- 葛城高天坊に会いに行った
- reference source : -


根来忍者僧「七天狗」Shichitengu, Shichi Tengu
"Seven Tengu" Ninja from Negoro


- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Shichi Tengu-e 七天狗絵 and 天狗草紙 Tengu Zoshi
. . . CLICK here for Photos - 天狗草紙 !

The Seven Tengu Scrolls:
Evil and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism

Wakabayashi, Haruko

. The Seven Tengu Scrolls - Introduction .
Māra (or 魔 ma), the personification of evil


.......... H A I K U

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

猶みたし 花に明行 神の顔
nao mitashi hana ni ake yuku kami no kao

all the more i wish to see
in those blossoms at dawn
the face of the god

Tr. Makoto Ueda

... ... ...

Memorial Stone of this Haiku by Basho

© PHOTO 牛久市森田武さん撮影

The above haiku by Basho could be rephrased like this:

"Do not be so shy, show me your face, dear God of One Word! All the cherry trees are in full bloom and everything is so beautiful here! I am sure you too will look beautiful today!"

... ... ...

Basho was quite fascinated with the atmosphere of the place and found it hard to leave without seeing the "face of this deity".

............ Other translators' versions:

Still, I would fain see
The god's face
In the dawning cherry blossoms.


God of this mountain,
May you be kind enough
To show me your face
Among the dawning blossoms?


More than ever I want to see
in these blossoms at dawn
the god's face


all the more I'd like to see it
with dawn coming to the blossoms:
the face of the god


How I long to see
among dawn flowers,
the face of God.

-- Lucien Stryk

Written in "Oi no kobumi" 「笈(おい)の小文(こぶみ)」, at age 45.

- quote -
Matsuo Basho haiku scroll
The text dates to around 1688 and carries the title Preamble and poem on Mount Katsuragi. It was written on one of Basho's many jaunts around Japan.
It's presented in a wooden box, which is inscribed "Scroll brushed by the venerable Basho".
The poem reads, in translation:
"Still, I would fain see / the god's face / in the dawning cherry blossoms".

In the Japanese Shinto tradition, Mount Katsuragi is home to a kami (a kind of elemental spirit) named Hitokotonushi no kami - the God of One Word.

The god's face is usually described as nightmarish, indicating just how agreeable Basho found the cherry blossoms.
This poem can also be found inscribed on a rock at the god's shrine on the mountain.
It was first published in Basho's celebrated anthology Oi no kobumi (Notes from my Backpack). ...
- source : -

"The face of God", for a good Christian, might evoke the image of the old man with a white beard.
Translating this "kami no kao" is really difficult.
Translating Haiku Forum


hitokoto mo iwanu warera ya tera no aki

not even one word
can we utter here -
autumn in the temple

Gabi Greve, at Hitokotonushi Jinja, 1994


katsuragi no yamafutokoro ni neshaka kana

deep in the mountains
of Mount Katsuragi -
a statue of Buddha lying down

高濱年尾Takahama Toshio
Tr. Gabi Greve

Buddha lying down to await his end - neshaka, nehanzoo


綿弓や琵琶になぐさむ竹のおく」とは芭蕉が貞享元年(1684)に読んだ句で、葛城市には 「綿弓塚」として門人千里の屋敷跡の近くの興善庵の境内に文化六年(1809)10月、句碑が建て られている。この句も「野ざらし紀行」で見ることができる。


Hitokoto Jizo, Hitogoto Jizo 一言地蔵

One request Jizo (hitogoto Jizo)
A noticeboard next to this Jizo at Rokkakudo in Kyoto says that he's inclining his neck because he's carefully considering the request made to him. However, to avoid egotism, he'll only consider one request from a petitioner so it should be a meaningful one!

- shared by John on facebook -

. . . CLICK here for more Photos !

. Jizō - Jizo Bosatsu 地蔵菩薩 - Introduction .


- quote -
Hitokoto Kannon 一言観音
One-Prayer Kannon, or Kannon of a Single Utterance, or One-Word Kannon. This deity is worshipped at various locations throughout Japan, most notably at Kōfukuji Temple 興福寺 in Nara. The temple’s web site says this: “The Hitokoto Kannon Hall was relocated to its current location in the Meiji period. It houses a hidden image of Hitokoto Kannon, or ’Avalokitesvara of a Single Utterance.’ This name for Kannon is derived from the belief that if one sincerely recites Kannon's name, Kannon is sure to respond to the devotee’s prayer.”

Says Matsunaga Naomichi at Kokugakuin University:
“A god (kami) appearing on Mount Katsuragi, near the border of Yamato and Kawachi Provinces, and who could utter oracles of good or evil with the decisive speaking of a ’single word’ (hito-koto). The central deity (saijin) of the Hitokotonushi Shrine in Katsuragi, Katsurakami District, Yamato Province (present-day Nara Prefecture). According to the Kojiki, when Emperor Yūryaku Tennō 雄略天皇 (5th century AD) climbed Mount Katsuragi with his many courtiers, they encountered another troupe having identical appearance. Enraged, the emperor readied his arrow and asked for the names of those in the opposing group. The leader of the group responded, ‘I am Hitokotonushi no Kami of Katsuragi, who proclaims evil in a single word, good in a single word.’ Upon hearing this, the emperor and his courtiers removed their garments and offered them to the kami. Similar stories are found in the Nihongi and Shoku Nihongi; the version in the the Nihongi reflects ancient beliefs in hermetic mountain wizards.”
- source : Mark Schumacher -

. Kannon Bosatsu 観音菩薩 - Introduction .

. Yuuryaku, Yūryaku 雄略天皇 Emperor Yuryaku .


- #hitokotonushi #zenkibo -


Hasedera Statue


Fudo Myo-O from Hasedera 長谷寺
There are various Hasedera in Japan.


Sakurai (near Nara)

Seated Statue of Fudo-myo'o

重要文化財: 平安時代 Important Cultural Property



- Homepage of the temple


The main hall of Hasedera Temple is one of the biggest halls of all the temples in Nara, extending southwards on a raised stage. 'Juichimen Kannon', a eleven-faced divine savior of all the people in the world, has ten faces on the top of its main face. The statue of 'Juichimen Kannon,' which is about 10m in height, is covered in gold.

Hasedera Temple is famous for its peony garden and has 7,000 plants and 150 species of peony planted in the grounds. It is a breath taking site when they are in full bloom.


Hase-Ji (Haseji)

真言宗豊山派総本山 西国観音霊場第八番 
桜井市初瀬731-1 tel.0744-47-7001


There is another Hasedera in Kamakura.
3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa

- source : Ubukata - facebook

- Homepage of the temple
- source :


Nagano Hasedara 長野 - 長谷寺
878 Shinonoi Shiozaki, Nagano
〒388-8014 長野県長野市篠ノ井塩崎878番地

source : Butsuzo on facebook

- - - - - HP of the temple :
金峯山 長谷寺
信濃第十八番札所 Shinano Kannon Pilgrimage Nr. 18
十一面観世音菩薩 / 金銅製経筒 / 木造地蔵菩薩像 / 釈迦涅槃図
List of yearly festivals
- source : -


. Temple Hasedera - Sakurai 長谷寺 - Main Entry .




Sokushinbutsu miira

[ . BACK to Daruma Museum TOP . ]

Sokushinbutsu, the Living Mummies of Japan
Miira 即身仏のミイラ

PHOTO source:

! My Album with the Photos !

! Photos on the Internet !


Buddhist Mummies of Japan

This subject brings us to the fringes of ascetic Buddhist practises and is only for the advanced reader. Some of them in the tradition of Kuukai, Kooboo Daishi 空海received the name of xxKAI, as you can see in the list below. Differing from Egyptian mummies who are prepared after death, these Holy Man prepare their body while alive in a long ascetic practise for keeping in eternity.

Estimates of the number of self-mummified priests in Japan range between sixteen and twenty-four priests. Impressive though this number is, many more have tried to self-mummify themselves; In fact, the practice of self-mummification -- which is a form of suicide, after all -- had to be outlawed towards the end of the 19th century to prevent Buddhist priests from offing themselves this way... and yet the grand majority of priests who have tried to do this have failed. The reasons will take some explaining -- but first, some background on the whole practice and the reasons for it.

So truely devote Buddhist priests are not afraid of death; but they don't normally seek it either, as this too would be an abnormal obsession with the physical world. The priests that chose to practice self-mummification were usually all older men, who knew they had limited time left to their lives anyway... and since the practice takes years to lead to a sucessful death and mummification, it cannot be characterized as an attempt to reach enlightenment quickly as a normal suicide might be. Rather, the intended purpose of this practice for these priests is to both push their ability to disregard their physical selves to the limit of their ability, and to try and leave an artifact of this struggle that will stand as a symbol of their beliefs to those that are priests after them.

How to be a self-made mummify
Scientific study of the mummies and the process that created them only began in the early 1960's. It was generally expected that the mummies studied would show signs of having been mummified after death by other priests, in much the way Egyptian mummies -- and almost all other mummies on Earth -- have been created. The first step in that process is the removal of the internal organs, because the bacteria in these begin the process of decomposition within hours of death; with these removed, it is relatively easy to prepare, dry, and preserve the remainder of the body. But x-rays discounted this expectation... the internal organs were intact, which meant that mummification had been accomplished in some new way that scientists had not yet encountered. So the process itself was next investigated.

The actual practice was first pioneered by a priest named Kuukai over 1000 years ago at the temple complex of Mount Kooya, in Wakayama prefecture. Kuukai was founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, which is the sect that came up with the idea of enlightenment through physical punishment. There were three steps in the process of self-mummification that Kuukai proposed, and the full process took upwards of ten years to lead to a successful mummification.

The first step is a change of diet. The priest was only allowed to eat nuts and seeds that could be found in the forests surrounding his temple; this diet had to be stuck to for a 1000 day period, a little under three years. During this time, the priest was to continue to subject himself to all sorts of physical hardship in his daily training. The results were that the body fat of the priest was reduced to nearly nothing, thus removing a section of the body that easily decomposes after death.

In the second stage, the diet became more restrictive. The priest was now only allowed to eat a small amount of bark and roots from pine trees (mokujiki). This had to be endured for another 1000 day period, by the end of which the priest looked like a living skeleton. This also decreased the overall moisture contained in the body; and the less fluid left in the body, the easier to preserve it.

Towards the end of this 1000 day period, the priest also had to start to drink a special tea made from the sap of the urushi tree. This sap is used to make laquer for bowls and furniture; but it is also very poisonous for most people. Drinking this tea induced vomenting, sweating, and urination, further reducing the fluid content of the priest's body. But even more importantly, the build up of the poison in the priest's body would kill any maggots or insects that tried to eat the priest's remains after death, thus protecting it from yet another source of decay.

The third and last step of the process was to be entombed alive in a stone room just big enough for a man to sit lotus style in for a final 1000 day period. As long as the priest could ring a bell each day a tube remained in place to supply air; but when the bell finally stopped, the tube was removed and the tomb was sealed.

When the tomb was finally opened, the results would be known. Some few would be fully mummified, and immediately be raised to the rank of Buddha; but most just rotted and, while respected for their incredible endurance, were not considered to be Buddhas. These were simply sealed back into their tombs. But why did some mummify and some not? This is the tricky part of the whole process.

It is not clear if this is part of the process as set down by Kuukai, but in Yamagata is a sacred spring. This spring is on a mountain called Yudono, which is in fact the third sacred mountain of the three I visited in 1998. Many of the priests in the area considered both the water and the mineral deposits from this spring to have medicinal value, and may have injested one or both previous to their entombment. An analysis of the spring water and deposits revealed that they contain enough arsenic to kill a human being! Arsenic does not get eliminated from the body, so it remains after death... and it is toxic to bacteria and other micro-organisms, so it eliminated the bacteria that started the decompostion of the body.

As you can see, the process of self-mummification was a long and extremely painful process that required a mastery of self-control and denial of physical sensation. The self-made mummies of Japan are people who have earned the respect now shown to them, as they exemplify the teachings of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Daruma Library


Now read a short report of my travels in the area.

! My Album with the Photos ! Use this for the pictures

In May 1993, we took to the small roads of Northern Japan in pursuit of some of the living mumies.

On the sea-side of Mt. Yahikoyama 弥彦山 (the land-side shelters the temple Kokkujoo-ji, where Ryokan used to live in the small hut Gogoo-an), anyway, on the other side of this holy mountain, the temple Saishoo-ji is located halfway up the mountain.

They seem to make a good business with the sacred mummy, already from far a way many roadsigns lead us easily to the huge parking space. The Holy Koochi Hooin 弘智法印is sitting here, said to be the oldeset mummy, since 1363. He has his own special hall and sits there hanging slightly to the front, since a samurai, who was afraid of the whole business of living mumies, stuck a spear in his shoulder. (see picture). This samurai in turn had to leave his head for the unholy act, another trophy shown in this temple compound.

001 Picture Koochi getting stabbed
002 Picture Koochi fallen over after the lance blow
003 Picture His memorial stone

Three tourist busses have come this morning and we follow the busy head priest, leading us on with his megaphone, past a huge statue of the Holy Koochi towards the small hall. Ther he rings a bell, says a prayer in high-speed and then openes a brocade veil which had covered the Sacred Mummy. Now we can look at him, behind some clouds of incense. His body is there in full presence, getting dressed for the season twice a year. His body is unpalatable for the mice and does not react to heat or moisture any more. So he is sitting there since more than 600 years and receives the prayers of the believers with great magnanimity. Some of the people from the bus tour tell me they come here every year to “receive some strength”.

Well, after this busybody morning we take off along the coast, further north. I leave out our other adventures here and concentrate on the Sacred Mummies. (Details of all Holy men see below)

We reach the small town of Murakami and try to locate the Kannon Temple, but this time no signs and no megaphones…

After cruising around the station area for a while we find an unconspicious house-like temple. The priest seems surprised that someone shows up. He was cleaning the clean wooden planks of his temple and openes after I ring the bell many times to ask for permisison to come in.

He is very friendly and shows us to the small side-altar of the Holy Bukkai, who is sitting there since 1903. Even after the abolishment of this old tradition, he finished his ascetic practises and entered his final box only to be living on here now for ever. There is even a photo of an old man with a long beard beside the altar, showing the real living person. This is a place for the serious pilgrim only. Nobody disturbs our encounter here.

Next we are heading toward the three holy mountains of Dewa, Dewa-Sanzan, but that is another story. Anyway, we visit the tempel Jooren-ji, where another mummy is located. This temple is on a small hill, overlooking the fresh green ricefields. This temle used to be the final place on the pilgrimage to the three holy mountains on foot. After passing here, the pilgrim was allowed to eat meat again and partake of worldly pleasures.

The old wooden building is beautifully blended in the landscape. The cassette ceiling shows a surprizing array of modern paintings of dragons, horses, Kannon and even the heads of the beatles, Einstein and Picasso. It has been painted recently with the prayers for world peace.

On an unconspicious side alter the mummy of Holy Tetsumon is placed for all to meet. He sits here since 1898, being 62 years. There are only few people and the silence and piece is refreshing.

Just a few kilometers further up the hill is the most famous hall, Dainichi-boo. Here the Holy Shinnyookai is up for good business. Since the mountain of Yudono does not have its own tempel building, all statues are placed here. This temple had a lot of influence during the Edo period and even Kasuga no Tubone visited her praying for Iemitsu to become the third Shoogun of Edo.

50 years ago, a part of the mountain slided down during strong rain and ruined part of the temple, so now all statues are cramped in a building that withstood the onslaughter of nature. A young priest wellcomes us, smelling nicely of the “water of wisdom”, the holy ricewine. When he realizes that we are not just tourists but understand a little more about Buddhistm and statues, his explanations get longer and longer, his tounge more heavy. We reach the alter with the Holy Shinnyookai, the mummy best preserved from all the 24 existing in Japan to this day. Shinnyookai is sitting here since 1783,we are told, after 70 years spending among the living. After prayers and incense we are allowed to take a closer look. His fragile hands over his knees you can see all the sinews of the fingers and the nails protruding over the flesh just a little.

The great feeling of presence of all these mummies is really surprising. You must have seen it for yourself to understand the feeling you are really face to face with a special power.

Our trip goes on to Yudono, but that is another story.

NEXT read this
List of 16 Japanese Sacred Mummies


Are the Buddhist mummies really mummies?
Mummies as we know them from Egypt are normal people who die a normal death and are then prepared by specialists of the trade for the afterlife in various ways. Chemicals and herbs are used, sometimes even honey.

We also know of natural mummification of human bodies in the moors, glaciers and deserts of the world.

The difference to the Sokushinbutsu is the fact that the human body is prepared for this during the life of the person, by his free will, as you have read in the introduction. So I tend to call them "Living Mummies".
The priest has to fast and abstain from most of the normal food, therefore he looks like a living sceleton during his lifetime already. Some theories they they use arsenic also to purify the body and make it withstand the forces of decay after death.
Then the breath stops in the final event, the human body is preserved as it was in the moment of physical death. So it contains bones, skin, hair, nails, internal organs and all. Only the amount of water that is normally in a living body is reduces to almost zero in the long process of dying.

Even if the human body is preserved with this process of asceticism, it can come to decay if it is not seated in a cool and dry place after the death. Temples in Northern Japan are well suited to preserve these mummies and most of them we can see today are so well preserved, they feel like getting up and walking out at any time.

Is it only the Shingon sect that practiced this extreme set of austerities?
Some stories are told of this practise being used by priests in Ancient China during the Han Dynasty already. Zen monks have also practised this kind of mortification.
Hui-Neng, the Zen patriarch in China, was mentioned in my introduction.

Here is a LINK to
The Idolization of Enlightenment:
On the Mummification of Ch'an Masters in Medieval ChinaRobert H. Sharf

Here is a LINK to a map of worldwide practise of mummification.

Why do people go to see the mummies?
What do they hope to get from it?

I guess the motives are as various as any ones for people visiting famous religious places like Lourdes in Christian communities.
Most Japanese say they go to receive some sort of "power and strength to live on" from visiting the mummies. Just thinking of the hardships they endured makes your own hardships seem lighter to bear.

The places I visited where really full of some kind of power that fills many holy places in Japan. It touches your very innermost being and makes you feel the presence of some kind of deity rather close to the skin.

The pilgrimage to the 88 temples of Shikoku is maybe the most famous these days, even NHK runs an introductory program on HOW TO in Autumn of 2006 ...

Gabi Greve about the Shikoku Pilgrim's Road


Shungi Shoonin 舜義上人, Myoohoo-ji, Ibaragi Pref.

He came from the temple Hookai-ji in Kamakura and was a believer in Amida Nyorai.

He found his end in 1686 in Ibaragi Pref. The temple Myoohoo-ji is Nr. 33 in a pilgrimage to 38 temples in honor of the Wisdom King Fudoo-Myoo-oo.

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Arisada Hooin 宥貞法印, Temple Kanshuu-ji

01 picture of his mummy
02 another picture of his mummy

He was a strong believer in the healing Buddha Yakushi Nyorai. He passed away in 1683 at the temple xxx in Fujishima prefecture. At the age of 92 he decided his time for death in order to help the suffering people of the area, sat down in a stone coffin and said: “Within 21 days,I will be in the other world”. He is now resting in the Yakushi Hall of the temple.

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


蔵高院の即身仏: 伝光明海上人
Tenkoo Myookai Shoonin, Zookoo-In

His mummy is in the temple Zookoo-In.

© PHOTO : tenji

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Shinnyokai Shoonin 真如海上人 (Shinnyokai Shonin)
Temple Dainichi-Boo

© PHOTO : hosaka

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

About the temple Dainichi-Boo (Dainichibo, Dainichi-Bo 大日坊)
Said to have been founded in 807 by the high priest Kooboo Daishi, this is an old and famous temple. Preserved here is a sokushinbutsu (see above) which, even more rare, is entirely intact. The remains, naturally embalmed and preserved by undergoing a special starvation diet, have not changed remarkably during 200 years of storage and handling. As the temple itself was used for worship by the former Tokugawa Shogun family, it stores many gifts offered by the former ruling clan such as swords, Buddhist statues and scroll boxes.


Tetsumonkai Shoonin 鉄門海上人
Temple Chuuren-ji

© PHOTO : hosaka

His portrait whilst living

© PHOTO : yamagata/uzen

. . . CLICK here for more Photos !

Temple Chuuren-ji 注連寺 (Churenji)

Churen-ji is the resting site of yet another sokushinbutsu, the natural embalming processed being accomplished by abstaining from all grains and eating only tree and grass foods.

There are many tales surrounding the Edo Era individual who eventually became the mummy here; he is said to have killed two samurai over women problems and escaped to Churen-ji, where he became a mountain ascetic.

After enduring many harduous rituals in the nearby mountains he made great efforts to rebuild the temple. At the age of 54 he visited Edo where he saw the great extent of eye illnesses, a major infliction at the time. This moved him to take out his own eye (the left) and throw it into the Sumida-gawa (Sumida River) and pray for a cure to the eye illnesses of the masses. What happened to the eye is not recorded, however, in 1829 in front of many believers he entered the main hall of Churen-ji where he attained living Buddhahood.

His hands as a print. (picture 04)
Drawing of a Dragon-Circle by him. (picture 05)


Honmyookai Shoonin 本明海上人, Temple Honmyoo-ji
Honmyokai Shonin

If you believe in his power, your mental problems will be healed and your eyes will be sharp forever. He is sitting in the temple Honmyoo-ji 本明寺.

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Tetsuryuukai Shoonin 鉄竜海上人
Disciple of Tetsumonkai. Tetsuryukai Shonin
at the temple Nangaku-ji 南岳寺

南岳寺 鶴岡市砂田町3-6

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

He passed on in 1868, on the 8th of the 8th month、at the age of 62 years.


Chuukai Shoonin 忠海上人 and
Enmeikai Shoonin 円明海上人

Both were priests at the temple Kaikoo-ji 海向寺.

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Chuukai passed away in 1755 and Enmeikai in 1822. This is the only temple which has two mummies.

Grave of Enmeikai (picture 07)


CLICK for more photos

Bukkai Shoonin 仏海上人
Temple Kannon-ji 観音寺

He found his end in the Meiji period, when officially this practise was abolished. After visiting the mummies of 18 other “predecessors”, he passed away in the year Meiji 36, on the 20th of March. He was the last one to follow this tradition of asceticism.

See his stone memorial and the character BUTSU, Buddha in a special script.

At the temple Kichijoo-ji 吉祥寺 there are 100 statues of Jizoo Bosatsu, engraved by Bukkai Shoonin. (picture 08)


Zenkai Hooshi 全海法師

© PHOTO : hosaka

He lived from 1602 till 1687. He started his practise of eating bark (mokujiki) in 1684.
A special festival in his favor is held on the 8th day of July and on the 8th of September. The whole village celebrates at the temple Kannon-ji.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !


Shuukai Shoonin 秀快上人
Temple 真珠院
He was born in 1719 and entered the last position in 1780. He practised his asceticism at the Hase-temple in Kyoto. Now he is in Niigata prefecture.
The temple hall 入定堂 has a beautiful ceiling of painted squares.

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


CLICK for more photos

Shinsoo Gyoojun Daigyooja, Shinshuu Gyoojun
心相行順大行者, 心宗行順大行者

Kubota Hikosaemon 久保田彦左衛門

His mummy is open for the public twice a year during public holidays, on the 29th of April and the 15th of September. On a festival in his honour villagers race around in sandals made of heavy iron and parade around the village.

09 picture of his mummy, clad in a blue robe
10 picture of his grave stone


Myooshin Shoonin, Myoshin Shonin 妙心上人
(picture 11 : his mummy, almost naked)
He was born in 1718 in Yokokura and passed away in 1815 in Yamanashi.
He spend most of his time leading pilgrims on to Mt. Fuji. He was brought back to his hometown during the Meiji period and is now seated in the Tempel Yokokuradeera in Gifu prefecture.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

両界山横蔵寺Ryokaizan Yokokura-ji


Tanzei Shoonin 弾誓上人

. . . CLICK here for Photos !
He started his bark eating (mokujiki) around 1600. His statue is now in the temple Amida-ji in Kyoto.
His statue made of cedar wood (hinoki) statue is quite famous. It is 75 cm hgh and he is shown in his priest robes (noo-e).
西善寺, 弾誓寺観音堂

12 picture of his statue, a national treasure (bunkazai)>
13 picture Some pictures of the caves where he practiced ascetism.

. Mokujiki 木喰上人 / 木食 "eating wood" asceticism - Introduction - .
Carver 木食明満 Mokujiki Myoman / Mokujiki Gogyō 木喰五行 Gogyo
(1718 - 1810) - and many others


The Buddhist icon and the modern gaze
by Bernard Faure

The famous mummy of Hui-Neng, the Zen patriarch in China

. . . CLICK here for Photos of Hui-Neng!

Sometimes Buddhist mummies, too, were used just like icons, as when the "flesh-body" of the Chan patriarch Huineng (d. 713) was paraded through town on a palanquin in times of drought, as a substitute for the icon of the Bodhisattva Guanyin.

The description of this "celebrated monster" given by Jesuit missionaries suggests that, like popular icons, this mummy had been blackened by the smoke of incense.(48) This raises the question of whether this flesh-body is the same as the lacquered, golden-colored mummy that was until recently visible at the Nanhua Monastery near Canton.

Click HERE for photos.

Another famous carver-priest
Daruma Pilgrims in Japan: Enku (Enkuu) 円空

Daruma Pilgrims in Japan: Haguro San 羽黒山


Marathon Monks at Mt. Hiei
This is a practise still presersved today.

1000 Days Walking and Praying around Mt. Hiei at Kyoto

The Kaihōgyō (回峰行) (circling the mountain)
is a set of the ascetic spiritual trainings for which the Buddhist "marathon monks" (a term coined by John Stevens) of Mt. Hiei are known. These monks are from the Tendai school of Buddhism, a denomination brought to Japan by the monk Saichō in 806 from China.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. 建立大師相応和尚 Konryu Daishi So-O Kasho .
(833 - 918) Founder of 北嶺回峯行 an Hieizan.

Sennichi Kaihoogyoo 千日回峰行 of the Tendai Sect

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by Dave Ganci

The Marathon Monks of Mt. Hiei: Better than Olympic athletes?

Inside Yokawa Chudo is a mural of Fudo-myo-o, the central deity the gyoja pray to during the kaihogyo 1,000 Day Challenge. They chant his mantra throughout the pilgrimage route.

Fudo-myo protects all living beings and helps them reach enlightenment by burning away their impediments and defilements. He is also sometimes called the Remover of Obstacles.

- source : Amy Chavez

. Fudō Myō-ō, Fudoo Myoo-Oo 不動明王 Fudo Myo-O
Acala Vidyârâja - Vidyaraja .


- quote
The Self-Mummified Monks of Yamagata, Japan
There are approximately 24 corpses enshrined in Japanese temples. Many are located in Yamagata Prefecture. They are seated in meditative posture and dressed in sacerdotal robes, as though still alive. In their bony fingers are bells, rosary beads, or other ritual instruments. Some are well preserved, their skeletal structures hidden by darkened skin, and others are mostly bone, with flesh covering only their hands or chest and back.

These individuals were not embalmed. They intentionally mummified themselves over a grueling period of more than ten years. They abstained from cereals and supplemented their diets with unusual substances, including pine needles and bark, herbs, grassroots, butterburs, and small river stones. Pine products function as preserving agents, while natural plants and herbs inhibit bacterial growth (Micozzi & Sledzik, 1992). The practice of swallowing small stones originated in the ascetic, Daoist pursuit of Immortality. Daoists fasted and ingested odd substances, including small stones, in order to stave off the feeling of hunger (Eskildsen, 1998).
- source :

Modern Japanese Research in the subject

山形県鶴岡市出羽三山(羽黒山・月山・湯殿山など とミイラ仏


The subject of self-moritifcation is of course rather fascinating, even for modern man. There have been quite a few TV dramas and detective stories about these mummies. Even manga with these subjects are quite popular.




miira to mo naritagarite ya hatsuhi no de

I wish to become
a living mummy too ...
first sunrise (of the new year)

Kobayashi Issa 一茶
Tr. Gabi Greve


冷まじや哄ふ如くに木乃伊仏(みいらぶつ)hiemaji ya warau gotoku ni miirabutsu

such a cold -
it looks like laughing loud
this living mummy

source : masuhiro, 2002
Tr. Gabi Greve


Through the Cloud Gate to Moon Mountain:
A Journey in OkuTim Hornyak Tokyo, Japan

I woke to the sight of a steel-blue Sea of Japan to my left under the white wing of the 8:05 JAL out of Haneda. We were flying low, descending over a tatami floor of yellow and green - the rice fields of Akita. They are legend in Japan, I recalled, the Komachi strain honoring Ono no Komachi, the Heian beauty and poet said to have been the scion of this verdant northern backwater of the archipelago. Sucking in the pure Tohoku morning air on the ground, I could see it was harvest time here in Yuwa town, far from Tokyo. The plants were lying down in the fields, heavy with seed. I thought of the adage:

Minoru hodo koube o tareru inaho kana

The more they ripen,
the lower they bow their heads
the ears of rice

These paddies also produce the main ingredient for some of the finest sake in Japan, and the depths of snow that cover them in winter is responsible, they say, for the lustrous white skin of Akita bijin, as the local belles are known. I could see a difference in the faces of the Japanese at the World Haiku Festival venue near the airport, my first destination in the north country. They had broader bone structure, were taller and somehow more solid than the inhabitants of the capital.

Their protocol was more substantial as well. A reception for the foreign conference guests was held at the restaurant Villa Flora on a hill overlooking a valley of rice. The Yuwa councilmen, our hosts, were decked out in blue suits, Brylcreem hair and thick-rimmed glasses. An emcee announced when the party would begin and end, speeches were made by the mayor and representatives of several haiku clubs. There were entertainments of traditional Akita songs with drum, shakuhachi and samisen accompaniment as well as dancing by middle-aged women in kimono.

We were asked to recite a haiku of our own composition, and I recalled visiting Basho's birthplace in Mie Prefecture a month earlier; Iga-Ueno was known as one of the two main centers for ninja, and before taking in a museum on the medieval assassins I had stopped at Basho's home. The large reconstructed main building seemed out of character with my image of the wayfarer, but nestled among the banana plants in the yard was his writing hut, which he called Chougekken -- literally, "Fishing Moon House". A nail dangled country footwear by the bare mats, and I pictured him composing after weeks on the road:

Straw sandals hanging
tatami by tatami...
tools to catch the moon

The bus to Kisakata, the following day, took us through emerald glens. Someone said Basho allegedly embarked on his Oku no Hosomichi odyssey because he was really a ninja and was on an intelligence-gathering mission for the Tokugawa shogunate. I laughed at the thought of a ninja weeping, as the sentimental poet often described himself doing.

Studded with pine, the "islands" of Kisakata were floating on a golden sea of rice in the sun. The 1804 earthquake that destroyed the lagoons had also replaced the cranes of Basho's day with crows. It was almost a Van Gogh painting. Amid the knolls, we could see hooded country women gathering rice cuttings and binding them to poles called haza. These looked like a row of people in traditional straw raincoats, the kind Basho and Sora wore while negotiating the muddy tracks. I later wrote the following:

Rice drying on poles...
a line of ancient pilgrims
frozen in the field

We were taken to Meiji poet Ishii Rogetsu's grave at a small hillside temple. Graveyards in Japan have always fascinated me; their wooden touba markers inscribed with Buddhist death-names, regular cleansing rituals, food and floral offerings. One cinerarium seemed a hive of life.

Withered offerings
bees crawl into cracks
in the family grave

That night, we held a moon-viewing party to honor the harvest moon. A bottle of the finest Akita sake, Hiraizumi, was brought along with pampas grass and other tokens. Our cheers finally coaxed it from behind a shroud of cloud, whereupon a toast was made. Later I repaired to a dark wooded patch away from the hotel lights and looked up; that magnificent moon seemed to be eyeing me through its veil.

Lying in long grass
I taste the harvest full moon
in my sake cup

I still had moon on the brain when I boarded an express train the next day for Tsuruoka, down the coast. I had long wanted to climb holy Gassan (Moon Mountain) in Yamagata, not because Basho had been there, but because of its association with the famed swordsmiths who lived on it and took the peak's name. They continue to practice their ancient art, as I learned when I once interviewed Nara sword maker Sadatoshi Gassan, the fifth generation of smiths since the Gassan school was relocated to Osaka around 1830. Their accumulated expertise is reflected in the master's prized blades, which seem living worlds in steel-silver dragons coiled around flowering plum trees, pearls floating over milky mists and the Chinese characters for "moon" and "mountain" engraved on the tang as a finishing touch.

I thought of the designs on the razor-sharp katana as I climbed the long stair through centuries-old cedars and mist to the summit of Mt. Haguro. The smith's lineage goes back about 800 years to the Kamakura Period, when Buddhist monks in the ascetic Shugendo sect needed swords to protect their disciples here, one of the three sacred peaks of Dewa Sanzan along with Gassan and Mt. Yudono -- said to represent birth, death and rebirth respectively. Sweating in the cold air, I reached the top of the stair at the shrine complex. The physical world seemed to dissolve at the gate.

Vermilion torii...
beyond it nothing
but mist

They say a handful of yamabushi mountain priests continues to live on Haguro year-round, but I saw none. The museum had an exhibit of round bronze mirrors that abbots of old placed in a local pond as a sign of dedication; its one ancient Gassan sword was not on display. I enjoyed a burst of sunshine in a garden of Jizo statues, pathetically dressed in unkempt layers of clothing to console the spirits of aborted fetuses, then caught one of the last buses of the year to Gassan.

The mist thickened as we climbed into wind and rain. When I got off at the Eighth Station, a gale was raking the volcano, driving cloud and fog over its chilly northern flank. I had hoped to cover the 8 kilometers to Yudono that afternoon, and with regret decided to wait out the storm in a lodge at Mida-ga-Hara, altitude 1,445 meters. After warming myself by a kerosene stove, I set off on a stroll over the marshy plateau through the mist. The alpine gentians were closed, and purple thistles provided the only spots of color in the shadowless grey-green void. I thought of Basho passing here before me, "through the cloud gate into the courses of the sun and moon."

Cold moor pool
grasses beneath the surface
move with the wind

The mist, confusing the visible and invisible, causing the mountainside to appear and disappear, hovered over the ponds like a spirit. I thought it was playing tricks on me when I saw two white, ghostly figures in the distance. As I approached, I could see they were sitting in the lotus posture and looking off into the moor, motionless in the rain. Were these phantoms of smiths who had tempered their swords in holy water, or shades of Yudono ascetics who fasted to death to become mummies? In the moment before I realized they were pilgrims practicing austerities, I felt as though I had passed through a gate into a Moon Mountain spirit-world where time itself does not pass.

Women chanting sutras
had seemed Buddhas from far
on misty Gassan

The storm didn't let up and I never did reach the summit. I accepted an offer of a lift back to Tsuruoka the next day from a worker at the lodge. The sun was shining in the valley below as we drove under the massive torii at the foot of Haguro. Behind us was Gassan, rising out of the cedar forests and vanishing into cloud.

quote from
World Haiku Review 2002


. San hikoyama 三彦山 three famous HIKO mountains .