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Sokushinbutsu, or How To Mummify Yourself in 4 Easy Steps

Filed Under Body Modification, Education on 2007-07-05, 17:22

mummified buddhist monk

1. Change your diet
For 1000 days (almost 3 years), only eat nuts and seeds that are naturally found. This, in combination with hard physical training will reduce your body fat to nearly nil, eliminating an easily decomposable part of your body.

2. Switch to Bark
Ok, now that you are sick of eating nuts and seeds for almost 3 years, it’s time to switch it up. For the next 1000 days, eat only the bark and roots from pine trees. This will reduce the amount of fluid you have in your body, leaving you even more dessicated.

3. Start drinking poisonous tea
Towards the end of your 1000 day stint eating delicious bark and roots, start drinking tea made from the sap of the urushi tree. Usually this sap is used to make laquer, but it will help you vomit, sweat, and urinate more often. This will help get rid of that terrible moisture in your body. Oh, and it will help to kill any maggots or other insects that might try to eat your mummified body later.

4. Lock yourself in a tomb
Finally, you’ll want to enclose yourself in a tiny tomb, just big enough to sit lotus style in. You’ll hang out in here for the next 1000 days, but chances are you’ll die long before you hit the 1000 day mark. How will you breath? A small tube will be run into the tomb. How will everyone know when you’re dead? A bell will be placed inside. Ring this bell every day until you die, then stop ringing it. When we don’t hear the bell anymore, we’ll pull out the air tube and seal up the tomb.

When the last 1000 days are up, we’ll crack open the tomb to see if you were successful. If we find a mummy, hurray! You’ll be considered a Buddha and will join an elite group of only a couple dozen monks who have succeeded over the years! If you’re all rotted, we’ll commend you for your effort, and tell you better luck next time. Want some tips? Try drinking the water from the sacred spring on Yudono mountain in Yamagata. I hear it helps because it has arsenic in it to help kill off any bacteria or micro-organisms. Oh, and watch out for the government, this whole practice was outlawed by the government back in the late 19th century.

tetsumonkai mummified monk

Buddhist Mummies of Japan(image #1 source and a listing of visits to the different mummies along with a few pictures)
Buddhist Mummies of Japan (image #2 source)
Article in JSTOR that I wish I had access to Thanks to Bethany for hooking me up with a copy!
The Very Special Dead – more pictures