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Goin’ Japanesque!

13th Man to Succeed Post WWII: 9 Days without Food or Sleep at Enryaku-ji Temple

Enryaku-ji is located in the Shiga-prefecture, and is a temple that is listed as a world heritage. It is also a place where one Japanese monk recently completed his 9 day long disciplinary training of having no food or sleep. This is one of the training steps within the 1000-day kaihōgyō training called “dō-iri”, and he now is the thirteenth person to complete it since the second World War. This should give you an idea on how harsh a challenge it is. The main stage for this specific challenge, Enryaku-ji, is also the temple that is famous for being the training spot for many historically significant monks during their early years. 


What is the 1000-day kaihōgyō (circling the mountain)?



The 1000-day kaihōgyō is a set of disciplinary challenges completed over a period of seven years for training. During the 1000 days within those seven years, the challenger will explore and travel through places of worship in Mount Hiei, and more. It is said that the total distance traveled equates to that of one trip around the earth. Participating monks set out on this journey prepared to take their own lives if they are unable to complete it, and for this reason always carry a rope for hanging themselves or a short blade for seppuku (Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment).

The dō-iri introduced today is performed on the 700th day. The monk will spend 9 days in the temple repeating the same scriptures over and over (about 100,000 times), with no sleep, rest, or food (they are not allowed to drink water, or even lie on their side). It is considered to be one of the hardest stages, even within the 1000-day kaihōgyō.

The monk who completed this dō-iri lesson still has another two years before he will be done with the 1000-day kaihōgyō.

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