Shiga: Monks make splash for world peace

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A monk plunges from the tip of a beam into Lake Biwa at Isakiji temple in Omi-Hachiman, Shiga Prefecture, on Aug. 1.

OMI-HACHIMAN, Shiga — Buddhist monks jumped from a beam extending over Lake Biwa to the surface about 7 meters below at Isakiji temple in Omi-Hachiman, Shiga Prefecture.

The ritual, held every year on Aug. 1, is said to have continued for more than 1,000 years. It is meant to fulfill people’s wishes by having the monks sacrifice themselves. This time, 10 trained monks in their 20s to 40s participated in the custom. One by one, the white-robed monks walked on the beam — about 14 meters long and 30 centimeters wide — and carefully advanced to the edge where they plunged in with their hands pressed together.

Sosen Matsumura, 43, from Shotokuji temple in Nagoya, participated in the practice for the 14th time. “I hoped that this world will be at peace with the pandemic contained and the war over.”

The ritual took place for the first time in three years, having been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.