Yamagata is unique throughout Japan for its self-mummified monks. This process of self-mummification was practiced by a specific sect of Buddhism almost exclusively in current day Yamagata prefecture from the 11th to 19th centuries.

The practitioners of “sokushinbutsu” did not view this practice as an act of suicide, but rather as a form of further enlightenment. Those who succeeded were revered, while those who failed were nevertheless respected for the effort. It is believed that many hundreds of monks tried, but only 24 such mummifications have been discovered to date, 7 of which are currently on display at various temples throughout Yamagata prefecture. Today, the practice is not advocated or practiced by any Buddhist sect, and is banned in Japan.

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In addition to the three sacred mountains and their shrines, the Dewa Sanzan area in Yamagata Prefecture is home to two interesting temples: Dainichibo and Churenji. These two temples are the sites of sokushinbutsu, men who transformed their own bodies into mummies while still living. Their mummified bodies are on display in Dainichibo and Churenji, close to Yudono-san.

Shugendo is a religion based on mountain worship that combines practices and tenets of both Buddhism and Shinto. Physical and mental endurance of the elements is an important part of Shugendo. Self-mummification is the most extreme form of this endurance and those monks who succeeded at the practice are now revered as Buddhas.

Tour Schedule


DayPlaceTimeDetail scheduleMeal
1Shonai9:00a.m.
~
13:00p.m.
After breakfast in the lodge, we will go to the Churenji Temple and the Daichibo Temple. Lunch is in a restaurant owned and operated by local farmers. We will take you to the station or airport.