Marathon Monks
September 20, 2003 1:24 PM   Subscribe

A 44-year-old Buddhist priest completed a seven-year, 24,800-mile running ritual on Thursday in Japan. The grueling ritual is performed by the gyoja, or "Marathon Monks," of the Tendai School of Buddhism at Mount Hiei. The ritual began in the year 831 with the monk So-o, and involves periods of running, walking, and chanting and praying to the Japanese deity Fudo Myo-o.
posted by homunculus (8 comments total)
There's also a book about the gyoja: The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei.
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on September 20, 2003

His real name: Forrest Gump-a-san. Just shows you what you can do if you have lots of time on hand and don't have to go to work or grocery shop for the little woman.
posted by Postroad at 2:48 PM on September 20, 2003

Interesting stuff. I've run (walked and hobbled) 88km's once before in just under 11 hours (that's just over 2 back to back marathons). Of course that's nothing compared to these guys, but it was never the less wickedly hard.
posted by zoid at 3:23 PM on September 20, 2003

I think most of us living in Japan have been turned off by seeing buddhist "priests" zipping around in BMWs, living tax-free and enjoying anything but ascetic lives. I know one priest who inherited his father's temple, he runs a bookmaking operation out of his coffee shop.

But these guys up at Enryaku-ji are hard core. They also frequently come walking down early in the morning (early for us, not for them) into the suburbs at the base of Hiei-zan, winding back and forth street-by-street, chanting "Oooooooiiii, oooooooiii," as long as their breath holds.

There are a few pictures of Hiei-zan on my blog.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:38 PM on September 20, 2003

Buddhist monks complete seven year runs.
Catholic priests make seven year olds run.
posted by quonsar at 5:07 PM on September 20, 2003

These guys are nothing compared to the Macrame Monks of Mt. Fugui, who spend every day for 10 years making tacky hanging baskets, truly demonstrating the lengths of human endurance and good taste. If they mistie even ONE twine knot, and they must listen to Carly Simon's Greatest Hits until they take their own lives
posted by leotrotsky at 8:43 PM on September 20, 2003

homunculus - great post. Those are some mean-assed Buddhist deities. But maybe they should be driving bulldozers too. Or jogging.

I wonder who keeps the monks in running shoes - Nike or Adidas?

I see a TV commercial coming.
posted by troutfishing at 8:31 AM on September 21, 2003

Documentary from my company on the subject Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei.
posted by ericrolph at 8:30 PM on September 22, 2003

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