More than two dozen mummified Japanese monks who were followers of an ancient sect of Buddhism known as Shugendô, have been discovered in Northern Japan.

Their beliefs were extreme and included the strict denial of any earthly comforts. The process of self-inflicted torture according to them, was the only path to enlightenment.

This practice is more than 1,000 years old and was first executed by a priest named Kuukai, who is considered to be the founder of this extreme and deadly Buddhist scion.

There were three steps in the process that eventually led to eternal mummification, each one harsher than the one before.

Evidence suggests that these priests who lived and died over one thousand years ago, tortured themselves in an attempt to mummify their own remains; a process which took up to ten years and was the result of deliberate self denial.

The first part of the process involved a change of diet; a 1000-day period in which the priest ate only nuts and seeds that could be gathered in the forest surrounding his temple. Physical hardship was deliberately imposed with the goal of reducing the body fat to nearly nothing, allowing for easy decomposition.

Believe it or not, the second 1,000-day stage was even more restrictive. Now the priest could only eat bark and roots from pine trees, a process insured to turn any human being into a walking skeleton and to decrease the amount of body fluids, making preservation even easier.

Then the priest had to ingest a poisonous tea which further reduced body fluids and killed any maggots or insects that tried to eat the priest’s remains after death, (not to mention the priest).

The final 1,000-day period the priest was entombed in a stone room just big enough for a man to sit lotus style. As long as the priest could ring a bell, a tube remained in place to supply air, but when the bell stopped, the tube was removed and the tomb was sealed.

This resulted in some mummification for which the priest was immediately ranked a Buddha, but most of the poor fellows simply rotted away without any rank at all.

Outlawed in the late 19th century, this weird practice continued into the early 20th.




M Dee Dubroff is the penname of this freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non fiction writing and maintains eight web sites covering a wide variety of topics. She also writes feature articles for several local newspapers. Her book entitled: A Taste of Funny, and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry ( feature many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.