When one thinks of mummies, what usually comes to mind are the ancient mummies of Egypt or maybe the mummies of the Aztecs. It is not widely known that in Japan, too, there are around 24 confirmed mummified Buddhist monks dating back to the 11th through the 19th centuries, all of whom took 10 years of dedicated preparation to turn themselves into deities by becoming mummies.

Known as Shokushinbutsu, these monks were all a part of the Shingon school of Buddhism, which was started over 1000 years ago by a monk named Kukai. Most of these mummy monks were from Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan, and the path to enlightenment through self-mummification was definitely not an easy one. For the first 1000 days, monks would eat a strict diet of nuts and seeds, while also putting themselves through grueling physical activity to get rid of fat. They would then eat only barks and roots and drink a poisonous tea for another 1000 days before locking themselves up in a tombstone. There, they would meditate and pray before they would just die and go silent. Once silence was confirmed, the tomb was sealed for another 1000 days before it was opened for all the other monks to see. Sometimes, the bodies were decomposed, but other times, a perfect mummy would be there, still in lotus position. And he would be looked upon as a deity (so would the others for trying).

This practice, of course, has been banned in Japan for a very long time, and anywhere else for that matter. After writing all about all that, I can't wait to take a bath, eat some ice cream, and lay in my warm, comfortable bed. I'll take that for enlightenment, thank you!