View Full Version : Japanese Buddhist mummies

Nov 11, 2003, 16:58
They are called g (sokushinbutsu), unlike the Egyptian or other mummies called ~C (miira, word originally from Portuguese).

I was told that these were Buddhist monks who fasted for years, losing as much body mass as possible so as to mummify, until death came. Needless to say that it must have been horribly painful, except of course if one is a Buddhist monk and "suffering" is just an illusion to you. :sorry:

These mummies are still considered by some locals as gods. But let me relativise, as Japan is the country of the millions Shinto gods, where emperors or exceptional men all have divine status. Nothing to do with the omniscient and omnipotent monotheistic view of God.

Nowadays the practice of sokushinbutsu is forbidden by law, as it is a form of suicide (and it is therefore punishable by life emprisonment ::sorry: ).

I was told that most Japanese mummies were to be found around the Yamagata prefecture (Northern Japan), and maybe not more than 6 of them exist.

I have searched for you and here is what I found :

This one is in the aR{ (yudonosan souhonji ?) temple (http://www.dainichibou.or.jp/index.htm), probably of the Shingon sect.


Here is the resident of the x@(Nangakuji) (http://www.t-town.jp/kanko/spot/spot1-9.html)


The last picture is from the @ (zoukouin) (http://www.informatics.tuad.ac.jp/tenji/tenji03/kotoh-lab/199970035/samplepage/zoukouin.html), which is of the Zen Soutou-sect.


The C (kaikouji) (http://www.city.sakata.yamagata.jp/sakata_tmp/kanko/bukkaku/kaikoji.html) of the Jisan Shingon sect also has a mummy, but no photo.

The word "sokushinbutsu" probably means "attainment of Buddhahood during life". Does anyone have more information about it ?

Nov 12, 2003, 19:31
Nowadays the practice of sokushinbutsu is forbidden by law, as it is a form of suicide (and it is therefore punishable by life emprisonment

Suicide is punishable by life in prison??? Oh, that's sooo much better than death... :eek:

Great research, Maciamo. I've never heard of any of this, so I hope someone will post some more information on it. Maybe Kakuzen knows more on this ...



Nov 12, 2003, 22:02
Originally posted by Satori
Suicide is punishable by life in prison??? Oh, that's sooo much better than death... :eek:

I am not even talking about missed suicide. Sorry, I was just being sarcastic. Why should suicide be illegal ? People do what they want with their life after all...

Can you imagine the law making missed suicide punishable by death ? It would be like the government feeling the duty to help those who what to end their life but can't. "We'll show you how to **** yourself up, you rookie !".

Nov 13, 2003, 04:26
Exactly!! :D I was being sarcastic about it too. I just can't get over people or organizations that have a problem with suicide, especially when many people who contemplate suicide do so as a way of avoiding further pain and agony. I used to have an 80-year-old neighbor who has dying from colon cancer, and he was contemplating suicide at times, as opposed to surgery, which would have saved his life. His philosophy was that it was "quality" of life vs. "quantity" of life. And I never questioned his beliefs because (1) he made a very good argument, and (2) it was his life to live any way he wished as long as he wasn't hurting anyone else. I certainly respected his right to make that choice. But for some crazy reason, others have a serious problem with an individual's right to ease--or even eliminate--their suffering. I just don't understand that. I'm completely in favor of euthanasia, and I seriously don't see why others have a problem with it. Must be just a control thing.

Feb 3, 2004, 20:48
hi i have only revcently been made aware of the japanese mummies, and that stlye of buddhism and i have to say thay i admire there dedication to there belifes, and to there training, even though the pain must of been emense, but i guess thats why they meditated.
if you know n e good sites for info plz post them i would be very grateful, i wnt to learn as much as possible.

thanx alot


Feb 4, 2004, 17:31
Very interesting, thanks for posting about them!

Feb 5, 2004, 06:32
There are many Buddhist mummies across Asia. The Chinese Ch'an (Zen) Buddhists were the first to do it. One of the oldest mummies I know of is that of the Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an, the great Master Hui Neng. I will include a picture of his body below.

(638 - 713 C.E.)

"A year before his death, Hui Neng ordered his disciples to built a pagoda in Xinzhou's Guo'en Temple. When the time came he put on his kasaya robe for the last time and sat cross-legged in mediation in a shrine of the pagoda, abstaining from food and drink until his body had been completely consumed. Following his death, one of his dispels propped up the Master's back with an iron bar tied with gauze and coated his body with layer of raw paint until the lacquer grew to three or four millimeters thick, leaving only one tiny opening at the bottom. Then the body was put onto a wooden seat and encased in two huge glass urns sealed together with plaster. At the bottom of the lower urn, lime and charcoal had been laid so that the decaying organic matter could trickle down and be absorbed. Thus, the genuine life-size image of Hui Neng was preserved. However, a debate arose as to where to install the sacred statue. Some of his disciples insisted it belonged in his native place where he had finally consecrated himself; others argued it should go to Nanhua Temple where he had founded and practiced his school of Buddhism. Finally, one disciple declared it should go where it was facing, and that settled the issue." - Nan-hua Website

Shakyamuni Buddha himself was (of course) cremated, as are/were most Buddhist monks/nuns of the present and past (excluding the Tibetan monks/nuns), but the Buddha's relics were then distributed to many Buddhist monasteries around Asia. The most famous of these are the Buddha's Tooth Relics which still may be viewed in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Beijing, China and in Singapore. Even my own temple has some of the flesh and bone relics of the Buddha. The mystery is that the miniature pearl colored and shaped bone fragments increase and decrease in number. It is said that they increase as a result of merits created by the members of the temple, and decrease with the lack of merits gained, or with increased demerits.

Respectfully, HK

Eternal Wind
Feb 6, 2004, 02:21
Does japan now hav any other kinds of mummy?

Gabi Greve
Oct 13, 2004, 15:47
Hi All,

I posted some information about this subject a while ago, maybe you might be interested.

Sokushinbutsu, Mummies in Japan


Greetings from Japan

Gabi Greve

Dr. Gabi Greve
Daruma Museum, Okayama, Japan

Join the Daruma Forum
http://www.geocities.com/gabigreve2000/index.html (http://)

Visit the Daruma Museum and Gallery
http://www.amie.or.jp/daruma/daruma-new1.html (http://)

Enjoy some Haiku Musings about Happiness
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/happyhaiku/ (http://)

Jan 17, 2015, 20:13
You have shared an informative post with us and help me to know about Japanese Buddhist mummies. But her I would like to say that your shared links are in Japanese and I can’t read Japanese. Would you like to share other link for more details?