Only 2 Achivers in 1300 years. Mount Hieizan’s 1000-day Marathon

They carry a sword for harakiri in case you fail to complete the practice.

Naoki Yoshioka
Naoki Yoshioka

XAMOSCHi Chief Editor

Establisher of tempo, Inc. a web production company. Naoki has been in the web industry ever since he established the company in 2000. He specializes in tech, culture and also loves international movies and literature. Naoki is also keen on studying old Japanese material arts (Sousuishiryu-Kumiuchi-Koshinomawari: Seirenkan and Aikido: Aikikai) and continues his training until today.

If you are a runner, you may have heard about the “marathon monks” of Japan. There is an interview of Ryojyun Shionuma, who achieved this practice, in NUMBER, a sports magazine.



What is a “marathon monk”?


  1. In a shrine in Mount Hieizan, there is a practice where you keep walking the mountains for 1000 days.
  2. The monks who go through this practice are called “marathon monks” and are known even in abroad.


They carry a Katana (sword) in case they fail the practice.


  1. They walk Mount Hieisan for 1000 days in search of enlightenment.
  2. So far, there are only 2 people who achieved this practice in 1300 years.
  3. They start the day by waking up at 11:30 P.M.  and meditate under a waterfall.
  4. Next, the go up and down 500 stone steps.
  5. They take 2 rice balls and 500ml of water when they leave.
  6. In case they fail to achieve the practice, they also take a short sword and a rope to commit suicide.
  7. When they leave, they wear white robes (burial clothes) in case they should die during the path.
  8. Even if there are difficulties such as the weather, the person must take responsibilities if he should fail.


Going through the same 48-kilometer, with a vertical drop of 1300 meters course every day


  1. The crest of Mount Sanjyogatake is 1719 meters high, and the challenger will take a 24-kilometer course each way.
  2. The total course length is 48 kilometers, and the vertical drop is 1300 meters.
  3. Along the way, there are 118 points where the challenger must chant the sutra.
  4. There is no support, and everything must be done by the challenger alone.
  5. During the practice period, he will get about 4.5 hours of sleep.
  6. This kind of life is lead every year from May to September, for 120 days.
  7. The practice is repeated for 9 years.
  8. The practice starts from the moment the challenger opens his eyes till he shuts them, and everything must be done as planned.
  9. The challenger is only allowed to eat a small amount of rice balls, and he can feel his bones weakening each day




  1. There are only two physical conditions. Not good or bad, but bad or worse.
  2. On the 490th day, he suddenly lost 10 kilograms of weight, got diarrhea, and his urine turned brown.
  3. He kept achieving the goal day after day, crying.



You need the to concentrate on your pain to achieve the practice


  1. What is important is to concentrate your mind on the pain and to control the mind to feeling the pain.
  2. That is how you increase your concentration.
  3. If you try to run away from the pain, which we call being chased by the pain, you fall into a dangerous situation.
  4. If you concentrate, you will be able to notice any little thing you are wearing.
  5. You will be able to notice the difference in fatigue caused by the increase or decrease of 10 minutes sleep.
  6. Your mind will be sharpened toward the issue of how to bring your body up and down the mountain each day.


Why go through such hardship?


  1. It is Buddha’s saying that if you repeat the same things everyday, you can achieve enlightenment.
  2. It is also said that if you lose your passion, the possibility of achieving enlightenment would go away.
  3. Therefore, a practice that required repeating a challenge that needs high concentration is used to achieve enlightenment.



Achieving the practice does not mean you are great


  1. There are various practices in Buddhism, but the more they are extreme, the more they become addictive.
  2. There are some who feel they are great by achieving those practices.
  3. There are monks who go though various practices and brag about them.
  4. Ryojyun Shionuma says that this kind of behavior is a mistake.


Ryojyun Shionuma left the shrine in Mount Hieizan and built his own temple. He says that you do not receive anything in  return for achieving this practice, but you begin a life to think how you can make use of the things realized through the practice in your live to commit to believers as a monk.




Translated by Elena



Source Number




A Japanese watch manufacture launched a “wrist computer” in 1984.


The sushi bar “Kiyotomo” designed sophisticatedly by Shiro Kuramata, has been dismantled by professionals and shipped to Hong Kong.


So you hate the stickiness and the smell of natto?? Well, let’s see what we can do with biotechnology...


The Gear for Ultralight Hiking - Non-attachment and the Identity -


Ummm… yes, there is a propeller but...