by Garth Haslam (anomalyinfo.com)
In August, 1998, I had the unusual pleasure of meeting a dead Buddhist priest face-to-face. I was on a pilgrimage to three sacred mountains in the Yamagata prefecture, and had stopped for the night at a town in short distance of the first of these, Haguro. That town, Tsuruoka, just happened to be home to one of the mummified Buddhist priests that I knew existed in Japan, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to visit. At the time, all I knew about these mummies was that #1) they existed, and that #2) these gentlemen had somehow voluntarily mummified themselves while still alive. I've since learned more.
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.
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