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You know when someone tells you there’s something cool nearby that you didn't know about
and you don’t believe it at first like er…
20 minutes away, in the mountains, incredible donkey farm.
Donkeys! I bloody love donkeys! Who doesn’t love a donkey.
Two streets away, amazing Mexican restaurant, life changing tacos.
Tacos! Now way, everybody loves tacos don’t they? Tacos yeah!
Next town over, an actual Mummy, better than Egypt.
No way! A Mummy! Everybody loves a Mummy… wait what?
It turns out I don’t have to spend my pocket money to go to Egypt to see a Mummy,
there’s one just an hour down the road.
And this isn’t just a mummy who’s been wrapped in bandages and chucked in a box
- this Mummy, is actually a person who killed themselves in a deliberate and torturous act of self mummification.
Now I’ll admit I’ve always wanted to see a Mummy, ever since I was kid reading about Ancient Egypt and the infamous pharaoh Tutankhamen.
As someone who hasn’t considered turning themselves into a mummy, recently,
I find it quite difficult to understand what led them to actually do such a thing.
So today we’re off to Fukushima to get some answers. We’re going on a day trip to explore the local area but above all,
to find out why someone would turn themselves into a Mummy.
I didn’t think I’d ever say that in a video.
The tour group we’re joining in Fukushima is in the middle of Sendai and Tokyo,
and our first stop of the day is a temple hidden away in a cedar oak forest,
in a scene that looks like something straight out of Indiana Jones.
So there’s 466 of these statues, they cost $2,000 to make and they’re donated by people who want some good luck and good fortune.
I almost see it as religious bribery. Some of them are quite new
- in fact the newest one was only made just 3 days ago. I love the way each one of them has it’s own unique special characteristic.
This guy has his sunglasses on, with some kind of giant polo.
This guy has the scariest face I’ve ever seen.
There’s even one over there with beats headphones. There’s no escape from Beat by Dre is there?
They’re everywhere.
The temple has a limit of 500 statues, so if you fancy some good luck, there’s still time for you to commission a statue of yourself
looking like Kim Jong il,
or an amazing spinach face.
It’s surely the best possible way to spend $2,000 dollars.
I’d love to make my own, but I don’t have $2,000 laying around.
Our next stop is a world away from the forest of cheeky statues.
Or at least, it certainly looks like it; down in the depths of Fukushima’s most impressive caves.
So we’re in this hall now in this giant cave - it’s 29 meters tall and 25 meters in diameter
and it’s incredible to think this wall just formed just by water coming down and dissolving all the lime.
But my first thought was, fuck, I hope one of those lime stone spikes doesn’t fall down on my head. That’d be a pretty bad end to the afternoon.
Apparently it took 80 million years for this to form so that’s quite reassuring. I don’t think they’ll be coming down in a hurry.
I think the best way to describe this cave is, it’s like being in an alien’s stomach.
Imagine you’ve been eaten by a really big alien, this is probably be what it looks like.
I’ve gone a bit delusional. Being down in the cave for the last hour has driven me slightly mad.
I may have lost my mind, but to be fair I can be forgiven, considering the randomness of what I discovered down in the cave.
So we’re in this limestone cave and there’s this big illumination.
Balloon art they call it - and there’s hundreds of little balloons lit up.
And then over here there’s just randomly a space shuttle. A space shuttle and space men.
I suppose nothing says limestone cave quite like a space shuttle.
Don’t know what the relevance is.
After the caves we were given kimonos to wear for the rest of the day, and headed off to welcome in some good luck for the New Year.
I might not have 2,000 dollars, but I can do the next best thing.
These small objects are everywhere in Japan. They’re called Daruma, and they’re modeled on Bodhidharma, the founder of zen buddhism.
Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, and today I’m paining my own and trying to make it look good.
Such skill and craftmanship.
Everyone’s looks quite good, except mine.
And I just ruined it. It looked really good. It had a beautiful little face and then I just got carried away.
It’s beyond repair now.
Maybe I’ll just turn it into a cat or something.
It’s just getting worse, isn’t? Still it’s unique in it’s own special way.
The Mummy could be found in a little town called Asakawa, in the Kinkyuuzan Kansyuji temple, sat upright in the position he passed away in.
I don’t want to stare at it too long, as I’m going to have some serious nightmares tonight.
It’s a little bit creepy to think that was a person once.
So 330 years ago this monk made the ultimate sacrifice.
It’s kind of like suicide but maybe much more difficult than suicide.
Disciplined suicide, is the only way I can think of describing it.
In Japanese the Mummy is called a Sokushinbutsu - which roughly translates as “flesh idol”.
His name is Yutei and 330 years ago he was a Buddhist monk,
who followed a sect of Buddhism which practiced the art of self mummification.
The practitioners believed that by this wasn’t an act of suicide, but a form of enlightenment.
At the age of 92, the local townsfolk were infected with a terrible disease, and Yutei believed he could help people’s suffering by becoming a Soksushinbutsu.
And in this form, he would be able to pray for the town for eternity.
The first stage of becoming a flesh idol is to rid your body of all water and fat, by limiting food intake to just a few nuts, until you’re little more than a skeleton.
Only then are you ready for the next stage of locking yourself away.
So this is the stone coffin that Yutei sat in for 15 days.
And everyday for 15 days, he’d ring a little bell to let the people on the outside know that he was alive.
And when stopped and he was dead, they left him in there for 3 years and 3 months and then they brought him out and he looked like that.
But if you looked at Yutei’s mummified body, you can see he has some flesh intact.
He’s not all just bone. And that’s a symbol that he’s succeeded in becoming a sokunshibutsu.
And where I’m standing right now he’s staring right at me. I’m going to have some serious nightmares tonight.
These Buddha here was actually placed on top of this stone coffin, to make sure he couldn't get out.
A minute ago I looked at that and thought, oh that’s beautiful.
But now I look at that and can’t help but think, that kept him locked in there. That makes me feel eurgh.
Apparently a lot of people went through with this procedure, but not many actually succeeded as they couldn't bare it.
But Yutei succeeded he pulled it off. And now look at him. He’s got his very own shrine.
What a lucky guy.
At just one hour north of Tokyo by bullet train, it’s a pretty easy region to explore.
If you need somewhere to stay after there’s lots of good resorts in the region;
we stayed at the nearby Yahataya Inn, with some excellent food and hot springs.
I’ve put the full itinerary in the description box below,
including the place in Koriyama city where we were given the stylish kimonos to wear during our trip.
I’m off now, to write about a book on how to paint,
so anyone can paint with the same skill and precision as myself.
Many thanks for watching guys - I’ll see you next time.
But if you looked at Yutei’s mummified body, you can see he has some flesh intact.
He’s not all just bone. And that’s a symbol that he’s succeeded in becoming a ...
And that’s a symbol that he’s succeeded in becoming a sokunshibutsu.