For more than seven years, Genshin Fujinami dressed in white from head to toe while covering the backwoods trails of Mount Hiei in one of the world’s most grueling feats–a punishing quest that combined starvation, isolation and the equivalent of a lap around the equator.
For 1,000 days, rising well before dawn, Fujinami embarked alone, rain or shine, on his journey, running or briskly walking more than 50 miles–that’s almost two marathons–each day as the trial neared its climax. Along with his white robes, his only gear was a pair of straw sandals, a long straw hat, candles, a shovel, a length of rope and a short sword.
The rope and sword weren’t for survival. If for some reason he could not complete his daily trek, he was to use them to kill himself.
“I would have chosen the rope over the knife because it’s faster and cleaner. But, fortunately, it rarely comes to that,” Fujinami, a stout man with a shaven head, said at a small temple deep in the mountains. On the wall behind him was a scroll with a painting of Fudo Myoo, his guardian god, who normally is portrayed with a fearsome scowl, a raised sword and a backdrop of leaping flames.
Fujinami said the time spent on the trails is spread out over seven years not because of the rigors, but to allow for time to reflect. “You learn how to see your real self. You learn to understand what is important and what isn’t.”
[Continued at The Seattle Times]
Marathon Monks documentary by Journeyman Pictures