Self-Mummified Buddhas in Japan.

An Aspect of the Shugen-Dô ("Mountain Asceticism") Sect Ichiro Hori History of Religions, Vol. 1, No. 2. (Winter, 1962), pp. 222-242.
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Ichiro Horn'




I should like in this paper to report on the recent discovery of selfmummified Buddhas in the Shugend6 sect of the Shingon school and to discuss in more general terms the characteristics of Japanese Shugen-db mysticism together with its theoretical, institutional, and religious background.
1 This paper is based upon field research undertaken by the writer on a rather unusual religious phenomenon in Japan. I t is our hope to pursue research on this subject to find relations with other similar phenomena, as, e.g., in Tibet. Nevertheless, it seemed appropriate a t this time to present the essence of the writer's research as it has developed thus far. Research and the wnting of this paper were facilitated by the Investigating Committee for Mummies in Japan sponsored by the Mainichi Press. We wish to thank Professor Joseph M. Kitagawa, Professor Mircea Eliade, and other colleagues a t the University of Chicago for their encouragement. We are grateful to Professor Kitagawa and Mr. Charles 5. J. White for reading the final draft and for making a number of helpful suggestions. We should also like to recommend a recent book, Nippon no Miira ("Mummies in Japan"), written by Professor Kosei Ando, of Waseda University, head of our investigating committee. This book, published by the Mainichi Prcss in 1961, will be helpful in understanding more clearly and generally the curious custom of religious mummification in the Far East, including Japan, China, and Tibet.


Last year, self-mummified Buddhas were discovered by chance a t five Shugen-dB temples in Yamagata Prefecture. These Buddhas have since become the scene of research by our special investigating committee. This was a miraculous discovery, for the only other known example of mummification in Japan was that of four members of the Fujiwara family, the ruling family of northeast HonshQ in the twelfth century. Because of Japan's exceedingly humid climate, furthermore, mummification is an extremely inappropriate way of disposing of the dead. Thus, although it was known by many historians of religion and folklorists that legends surrounding the gyhin-zuka mounds in Japan tell that a t such places a certain gydnin had been buried alive, it was not known whether these legends contained a kernel of historical truth. The six newly discovered mummified Buddhas, however, were found in their own special hall a t an altar within a temple and were worshiped by a small group of believers. As a result of the field studies which have been made on these newly found mummies, several important and hitherto unknown facts concerning the history of the Shugen-dB sect have been made clear. Important among these are the characteristics of the gybnin, a certain type of ascetic in the Yudono sect (a subdivision of the Shugen-dB) who was quite different from ascetics in the other sects of the ShugendB as well as from those in the same sect, such as the shugen-sha, the head of a seminary on or around the sacred mountain, or the sendatsu, a guide or conductor. The status and functions of each of these types will be explained in detail in the following sections of this paper.

Before entering upon a discussion of the specific characteristic of the Shugen-dB sect, and in particular those of the Yudono, I would like to describe briefly the history of the six newly discovered Buddhas. 1. HonmyB-kai ShBnin (enshrined a t HonmyB-ji in Higashi-Iwamoto of Asahi-mura). Born of the Togashi family, a retainer of the feudal lord Sakai a t Tsuruoka, Honmygkai became a g y h i n in the Yudono sect in order to pray for his lord's recovery from a serious illness. I-Iaving left his wife and children behind, he entered the Churen-ji Seminary, a member of one of the four main groups of seminaries in the Yudono sect, and gained a knowledge of some of their primary doctrines, prayers, and rules of discipline. After this he led a secluded life in a special place named Sennin-zawa (literally, "Swamp of Wizards") between Churen-ji and the Shrine of Mount Yudono, holy of holies for the Yudono sect, and there practiced a severely ascetic regimen for several years. I t is said that after 1673 he began abstention from

Self-mummiJied Buddhas in J a p a n cereals (mokujiki-gy6) for about eight years, sustaining his life by the consumption of only the bark of pine trees. His lord, Sakai, having become his supporter because of the virtue and superhuman powers of Honmy6-kai, instituted a drive to raise a temple for him. Meanwhile, Honmy6-kai had determined "to become a Buddha in his very own body as his body was" (sokushin-jdbutsu), and in 1683 he entered into a stone chamber under the ground and died a peaceful death while chanting a prayer to Amitabha Buddha (Amida-butsu). His corpse was exhumed from the chamber immediately after his death, made to assume a sitting posture with crossed legs like a Buddha, and dried up with a charcoal fire and incense fumes. After that the corpse was buried again in the underground chamber for about three years. When it was again recovered, the corpse had become completely mummified. I t was enshrined by the followers and disciples of Honmy8-kai as an object of worship in a special hall in HonmyB-ji called soku-butsu-d6 (hall dedicated to the person who became a Buddha in his very own body). HonmyB-kai's lifelong desire was to free his people from suffering and illness. Even today he is worshiped as a Buddha and supplicated by the peasants near a temple for the relief of eye diseases. 2. ChQ-kai ShBnin (enshrined a t Kaikd-ji in Sakata City). Born of the Togashi family, ChQ-kai was a nephew of HonmyB-kai ShBnin. He deeply admired his uncle's virtues and superhuman power, and he wished to model himself upon his deeds. He adopted a severe asceticism a t Churen-ji Seminary as well as a t Sennin-zawa on Mount Yudono, one feature of which was the practice of eating only chestnuts or torreya nuts for a period of a thousand days. Through his own efforts he then built a temple named KaikB-ji in Sakata City in which his mummy is now contained. Determined to become a mummified Buddha as his uncle had, ChQ-kai Shdnin entered into a wooden coffin in 1755 a t the age of fifty-eight and was buried alive. The body of ChQ-kai was dug up three years later, and following the same method previously outlined, was dried through the use of candle fires and incense fumes a t the main temple of Churen-ji. His mummy was enshrined a t the soku-butsu-d8 hall a t KaikB-ji. 3. Shinnyo-kai ShBnin (enshrined a t Dainichi-bB in &mi-mura). A member of the Shindo family, and a farmer in Higashi-mura near Tsuruoka City, formerly the feudal capital of Sakai Fief, Shinnyo-kai killed a samurai (warrior) accidentally following a false accusation. He escaped to Dainichi-bd Seminary, a member of another important seminary group of the Yudono sect on the west side of Mount Yudono. The chief abbot of Dainichi-b6 succeeded in sheltering him from the

FIG. 1.-Mummified Buddha of Chfikai Shbnin dressed in the isse-gybnin's official costume a t KaikG-ji Temple in Sskata City, Yamagata Prefecture.

FIG. 2.-Isse-gydnin performing the agricultural rite called 0-saku-matsuri on February 18 a t KaikB-ji Temple in Sakata City. The one a t left, with a symbol and wearing a white robe and a special ascetic hood, is falling into a trance in order to announce the divination.

FIG. 3.-Isse-gybnin in a uniform for the religious austerities in the cold season with the special symbol named bonden and offertory box.

pursuing officials of the fief's government, for even a t that time some Buddhist temples were protected by the principle of extraterritoriality. Both for the salvation of the deceased samurai's soul and in order to become a mummified Buddha, Shinnyo-kai became an ascetic gydnin of the Yudono sect and practiced a severe discipline. Leading a secluded life a t Sennin-zawa, he took up the exercise of abstaining from cereals for about three thousand days. Finally in 1783 he dug a pit on the hilltop near Dainichi-bB, and stepping into a wooden coffin with a breathing hole made of bamboo, ordered that he be lowered into it. He died a t the age of ninety-six on the fourteenth day of the eighth month, chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha and ringing a bell. 4. Tetsumon-kai ShBnin (enshrined at Churen-ji). Born in 1768 of a farmer's family named Sunada in a suburb of l'suruoka City, Tetsumon-kai ShBnin carried timber and gravel on the riverside. One day when the banks of the river were about to break because of the long, heavy rains, Tetsumon-kai saw that two samurai in charge of the flood control were drunk, and he charged them with negligence. They struck angrily a t him, and Tetsumon-kai killed them with a fire hook. He then escaped to Churen-ji, where he was sheltered by the chief abbot and became a disciple a t the seminary, performing the austerities of the Shugen-dB. He also engaged in public works and in medical care with the use of herbs. He left his mark not only in northeast Honshd but also in the Kanto area centering around Yedo (Tokyo). Monuments of his virtuous deeds are to be found in many places, even in Kiigata and Chiba prefectures. I t is said that Tetsumon-kai dedicated his eyes to the deity of Mount Yudono in order to save the people from the sufferings of eye disease. Consequently, the Tetsumon-kai Buddha is worshiped and prayed to as a guardian of the eyes. In 1829 when he was sixty-one years old, Tetsumon-kai entered nirvdna after having performed a fast a t the main hall of Churen-ji, according to the precedent of KBbB Daishi (KQkai, the founder of the Shingon school in Japan, 774-835 A.D.). Afterward, his corpse became a mummy, that is, a Buddha in his very own body, and was enshrined a t a special sanctuary in Churen-ji Temple. 5. EnmyB-kai ShBnin (enshrined a t KaikB-ji in Sakata City). Born in a suburb of Tsuruoka City as a farmer's son, EnmyB-kai was converted in his youth to the Haguro sect of Shugen-dB, a rival of the Yudono sect centering around the sacred mountains of Gassan, Yudono, and Haguro. He became an ascetic within this group, but was afterward strongly influenced by Tetsumon-kai's virtuous deeds and became his disciple, a convert to the Yudono sect. As the heir of his master l'etsumon-kai, EnmyB-kai succeeded the chief abbot of KaikB225

Self-mummified Buddhas in Japan
ji in Sakata. He then practiced abstaining from cereals for several years, and he entered nirvcina alive in 1822 preceding his master. He was fifty-three years old a t the time. His corpse became a mummy, although the place and manner of his death are not yet clear. 6. l'etsuryu-kai ShBnin (enshrined a t Nangaku-ji in Tsuruoka City). Born in Akita Prefecture, Tetsuryu-kai became an ascetic of the Yudono sect, following Tetsumon-kai. Until 1862 he engaged in abstaining from cereals; thereafter, he became a chief abbot of Nangaku-ji. In 1868 (according to another report, 1881) he was voluntarily buried alive in the precincts of Nangaku-ji. Unfortunately, his corpse had not yet mummified naturally when it was dug up. His disciples extracted the viscera from the corpse and carried the corpse to Churenji, where it was dried. I t has been observed that the body cavity of this mummy has been filled with lime powder up to its neck. This is the newest mummified Buddha and is the only instance in which mummification was due to an operation. Two more examples should be added here from the Tokugawa period. One is KBchi HBin, who was enshrined a t SaishB-ji in Teradomarimachi, and the other is Jun-kai ShBnin, who was enshrined a t Gyokusen-ji in Tsugawa-mura, both in Niigata Prefecture. KBchi HBin1s mummy remains in its original resting place and was investigated by our committee members. I t is said that he was from Chiba Prefecture, was trained in the Shingon school a t Mount KBya, and then came back to his native land to reside in a temple. Later in his life he made a preaching tour, and he settled down finally a t a small hermitage near SaishB-ji, where he died in 1363. The details of this biography are now obscure, but as far as we know, he is the oldest mummified Buddha. Jun-kai was also a mountain ascetic belonging to the Yudono sect, and he died around 1630 a t Gyokusen-ji.

The relationship between the two mummies previously discovered and the six new mummified Buddhas cannot be traced historically. However, looking over the brief biographies of the eight mummified Buddhas, we might point out certain common characteristics. 1. First of all, I would like to suggest that all eight of these mummified persons were during their lifetime very rigorous ascetics of the type peculiar to the Yudono sect and known as isse-gydnin. 2. They all practiced abstention from cereals (mokujiki-gyd). The food staple was buckwheat flour, while the subsidiary foods were pine bark, chestnuts, torreya nuts, grass roots, and so forth. Abstention lasted from one thousand to several thousand days, and it was under226

gone while in seclusion a t Sennin-zawa, a spot reserved exclusively for the ascetic practices of the isse-gydnin. Nearby was the holy of holies on Mount Yudono, the Yudono Shrine, and here the isse-gyBnin came to worship three times a day after cold-water ablutions. The deity of the Yudono Shrine is believed to have been an incarnation of the Dainichi-nyorai (Mahcivairocanasatathcigata), symbolically represented as a hot spring emerging from a huge, round rock. 3. All of them resolved to become mummified Buddhas because they believed in the doctrine peculiar to the Shingon school of the sokushin-~Bbutsu(becoming a Buddha in his very own body). The latter is one of the fundamental points of difference between the Shingon and the other Buddhist schools such as the l'endai (l"ien-t'ai), the JBdo (Pure Land), the Nichiren, the Zen (dycina), and others. The pioneer Great Master of the isse-gy6nin ascetics, KQkai (KBbB Daishi), was the model of their religious faith and practice, especially in the matter of self-mummification, for it was believed that he became a Buddha in his very own body in a stone cave on top of Mount KBya and that he is still awaiting there the advent of Maitreya Buddha, who is supposed to appear 5,670,000,000 years after the death of Sakyamuni. I t was thought that he spent his time in meditation, although periodically he would wander all over Japan to save people from suffering and misfortune. Once a year the ceremony for changing KBbB Daishi's robe took place in accordance with this legend. The beginning of the legend of KQkai's deeds is to be found in a book supposedly compiled in about the twelfth century, the Konjakumonogatari ("Stories, Ancient and Modern"). Here we are told that Kangen Sojo (d. 925), who had entered his stone cave to worship the still-living Great Master (K6bB Daishi), changed Daishi's robe, tonsured his hair, and repaired his rosary which had been scattered about. The same legend is found in the Heike-monogatari ("Historic Romance of the Taira Family"), compiled supposedly in about the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and in other books. From this we may surmise that the legend was generally believed to be factual in substance. The legend which inspired the isse-gydnin to abstain from cereals in order to become a mummified Buddha is that of the KQkai's "Last Injunction" (Yui-gB), in which KQkai, looking back upon his past, writes that his chief pleasure was in the practice of meditation, and that he disliked taking cereals as his food from the twelfth day of the eleventh month of the ninth year of TenchB (832 A.D.). Though this "Last Injunction" is of dubious authenticity, it seems a t least to testify that abstention from cereals was an important training exercise for Shingon ascetics both during and after the Heian Period.

Self-mummified Buddhas in J a p a n 4. I believe that the reason why seven of the eight mummified Buddhas (i.e., with the exception of KBchi HBin) had the suffix kai appended to their Buddhist names is that their Great Master was named in this way: KB-kai. Yet, why was the special Buddhist name with the kai suffix conferred only upon the isse-gybnin group in the Yudono sect? In order to understand this, we must first clarify the history of the Shugen-dB sect and, in particular, that of its subdivision, the Yudono sect, together with the structure of the latter during the Tokugawa Period.
III. SHORT HISTORY OF THE SHUGEN-DC? JAPAN IN As I have already pointed out in my paper in Numen (Vol. V, Fasc. 2-3 [1958]), the Shugen-dB seems to have originated in an ancient mountain worship and in the belief in magicians and shamans in sacred mountains. The sacred mountain was recognized as the residence of a deity or deities, and of spirits of the dead who bestowed rain and fertility upon the peasants of the plain at the foot of the mountain. The legendary founder of the Shugen-dB was the famous magician and ascetic saint named En-no-ShBkaku (or E-no-Ozunu), who is supposed to have lived as an updsaka (Jap. ubasoku) on Mount Katsuragi and to have been the chief of a priestly family which from generation to generation served the deity of the mountain, Hitokotonushi (literally, "Lord of One Word"). This deity was well known as an oracle, because his name as was derived from the declaration at his first advent, that is, the Ruler of the Word. This legend should be understood to mean, therefore, that the En or E family had a special hereditary gift for speaking oracles, and that the Shugen-dB in its origin had a close relation with shamanism. During the Heian Period (784-1185), MantrayAna Buddhism was widely favored among the people. I t had been introduced by SaichB (DengyB Daishi, 767-822), the founder of the Tendai school, as well as by KBkai (KBbB Daishi) of the Shingon school. The MantrayAna element within the Tendai was called the Tai-mitsu (Tendai Mikkyd), while the Shingon MikkyB was called TB-mitsu (an esoteric doctrine based upon the training program at TB-ji in Kyoto, a center of the Shingon school). In addition to Mantrayha Buddhism, Chinese Yinyang magic and divination (Onmyd-db), and Taoistic thought enjoyed a great vogue, particularly among the upper classes. Thus, the heterogeneous formulas of ancient shamanism were revived, and became strongly influenced by, and involved with, Mantrayha and Yin-yang theory and practice.


A most significant phenomenon in this process of syncretization was the belief in the gory6, a belief which rapidly swept over all of Japan and was prevalent especially among the royalty and the upper classes. The gory6 (whom I have described in my paper mentioned above) was a malevolent or angry spirit of a dead nobleman who had perished in a political tragedy or intrigue. Unusual events, such as a violent political change, civil war, epidemic, famine, drought, earthquake, thunderbolt, typhoon, or any other extraordinary phenomenon in heaven or earth, and events involving pain, disease, or death-all these were believed to be the revenge and punishment of the gory6. To protect themselves against the goryd, people employed the services of Buddhist ascetics, M a n t r a y h a magicians, and Yin-yang priests, paid great respect especially to the ascetics trained in the mountains (yama-no-kenza). The latter, by virtue of their religious austerities, were believed to possess superhuman magical powers and were called either yama-bushi ("an ascetic who lies down in the mountain") or shugen-sha (a person who practices religious austerities and attains superhuman powers through his penances). A significant role in the exorcism of the gory6 was played by the substitute or female shaman, known as a milco, kaji-dai, nori-wara, or yori-mashi. These female shamans, through the use of magical spells and the chanting of a sfitra or dhdrani, fell into a trance in which they were possessed by unseen spirits who employed them as a mouthpiece for their grievances and prophecies. As the belief in the gory6 and the demand for the mountain shugensha or kenza increased all over Japan, there emerged many shugen-sha who took up permanent residence on the local sacred mountain, and spent their time building temples, seminaries, and Shinto shrines dedicated to their own mountain deity, as well as priests' lodges and habitations for pilgrims. The earliest and most famous of such settlements were a t Mount Yoshino (Kinpu); Mount Ohmine and Mount Kumano in Middle HonshQ (Kinki area); Mount Hiko in Kyushu; Mount Ishizuchi in Shikoku; Mount Tai-sen, Mount Kojima in West HonshQ; Mount Ontake, Mount Tateyama, Mount Haku-san in Middle HonshQ; Mount Haguro, Mount Gassan, and Mount Yudono in Northeast Honshd. The last three mountains are called Dewa-sanzan, that is, Three Sacred Mountains in Dewa Province (present Yamagata Prefecture). These were the main centers of Shugen-dB from medieval to modern times. The present form of Shugen-dB is said to have been instituted by ShBbB (832-909), a higher priest of the Shingon school who practiced religious austerities on Mounts Yoshino and Ohmine, following the

Self-mummifLed Buddhas in Japan
model of the legendary En-no-ShBkaku. He built a Shingon temple named Daigo-ji in Kyoto which became very powerful; it lies in a triangular position with TB-ji in Kyoto and KongB-bu-ji on Mount KBya. I t should be observed that the headquarters of the Shugen-dB is SanbB-in Seminary within the precincts of Daigo-ji. As the practice of austerities in the mountains was held in high repute by both priests and laymen, pilgrimages to such sacred mountains were flourishing. The Mitake-mGde (Pilgrimage to Mount Kinpu) and the Kumano-mGde (Pilgrimage to Mount Kumano) began to be very popular among both upper and lower classes. These pilgrimages were performed in order to receive divine favors and to attain to spiritual enlightenment and peace. The custom gave rise in the first place to the prosperity of the mountains' inhabitants, and the appearance of professional conductors named sendatsu who guided the pilgrims to their mountain from Kyoto and other places while teaching them the rules of religious purification and abstinence; in addition, there came into being many permanent leader-priests called shugen-sha, shzito, or oshi who taught, prayed for, and guided the temporary lay-ascetics and pilgrims on the sacred mountain. They built their own seminary and lodge around the main temple to shelter their adherents and pilgrims. At the end of the Heian Period, Mount Kumano was a t the peak of its prosperity. This was due mainly to two retired emperors, Shirakawa, who made nine pilgrimages to Mount Kumano, and Goshirakawa, who made thirty-four. The popularity of this mountain is indicated by the old and well-known proverb speaking of "the pilgrimage of ants to Mount Kumano" (Ari-no-Kumano-mGde). The shugen-sha on hlount Kumano subsequently came under the control of the Tendai and Shingon schools as the result of the efforts of the sendatsu who served on the emperors' pilgrimages as conductors and guides. The institutionalized Shugen-dB was gradually established around Mounts Kumano and Kinpu (Yoshino) under the doctrinal influence and management of both the Tendai and Shingon schools. Roughly speaking, the Shugen-dB of Mount Kumano was ruled thereafter by the Tendai school (Honzan-ha), while that of Mount Kinpu and Mount Ohmine was guided by the Shingon school (Than-ha) . Before the Tokugawa Shogunate established its feudal hegemony over Japan, the Shugen-dB centers in several local areas (except those a t Mounts Ohmine and Kumano) had escaped direct control by the Kamakura or Ashikaga shogunates, and the feudal and manor lords, as well as by the Buddhist schools themselves. This is not to

deny, however, as I have explained above, that they were strongly influenced by Mantraydna Buddhism as found in the Tendai and Shingon esotericism and ritualism, and by heterogenous Shintoism and the way of Yin-yang (Onmyd-dd). From these various sources they accepted and combined elements of various doctrines and practices, especially Buddhist prayers and magic according to the Mant r a y h a sdtras and dhdrani. Nevertheless, they maintained their own uniforms, religious teachings, and mode of life; their succession was hereditary, and they did not shave their heads or marry. They disregarded the disciplinary rules (Vinaya) of the Buddhist priesthood (bhiksu), because they were not bhiksu but only upcisaka. Sometimes, as substitutes for Shinto priests, they celebrated Shinto services for their mountain deities, as well as agricultural festivals. The religious policy of the Tokugawa government (Bakufu) demanded a strong control over religious institutions. The Buddhist community was especially the victim of high-handed procedures, because the many daimyd (feudal lords) in the age of the Civil War (about the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries) had been harassed by the monk-soldiers (s6-hei) from such powerful Buddhist temples as Enryaku-ji and Onj6-ji of the Tendai school, K6fuku-ji and T6dai-ji in Nara, Negoro-dera and KongBbu-ji of the Shingon school, as well as by the Ikk6-ikki (agrarian disturbances against manor lords which had been instigated in several areas mainly by followers of the Shin sect). Indeed the political, economic, and military strength held by the powerful temples was the largest hindrance to the establishments of the feudal system. Accordingly, Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1535-98), who preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa feudal system, made a mighty attack against Enryaku-ji (in 1571), Negorodera (in 1585), and Hongan-ji at Ishiyama (now Osaka City) of the Shin sect (in 1576-80). In the meantime he formed a counterorganization against it from the ranks of the newly arriving Christian missionaries (Kirishitan), utilizing such men as L. Frois (d. 1597), G. Coelho (d. 1590), and A. Valignani (d. 1605), although the Kirishitan mission was subject to severe pressure in Hideyoshi's last years (159698). Tokugawa Iyeyasu (1542-1616), founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and his successors completed the destruction of the power of Buddhist temples and incorporated them into the framework of the Bakufu system. An idea of the religious policy of the Bakufu may be gathered from the Jiin-hatto (ordinances for Buddhist temples issued by the Bakufu), along with various other laws and ordinances concerning the regulation of Buddhist temples and monks.

Self-mummiJied Buddhas i n J a p a n Among such measures I should like in particular to note the following: (I) the enforcement of the parishioner system (danka-system) after 1638 for the purpose of a strict prohibition of the Kirishitan mission, that is, every Japanese person and family, regardless of social status and occupation, had to register a t a specific Buddhist temple, while the temple (danna-dera) had to keep a record of its parishioners; (2) the establishment of a system of main and subordinate temples (Hon-matsu system), that is, every temple had to become subordinate to a central temple and obey the laws and orders of that temple; (3) the fixing of the status of each Buddhist monk and temple, as well as the regulation of the religious practices and discipline of each Buddhist school and sect; (4) the direction of the temple estate that had been authorized by the Shogunate (go-shuin-chi) or by each daimyd (yoke-chi) in order to guard against the possible enlargement of the economic and military power of Buddhist temples. The headquarters of each Buddhist school and sect was placed under the strict control of the Jisha-bugyd (commissioner of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples), composed of five daimy6 in hereditary vassalage to the Tokugawa after 1635, under which were the Fure-gashira (chief officials for proclamation), the representatives of the leading temples of each sect. The latter were obliged to deliver the commands of the Bakuju to the subordinate temples and to report petitions from the temples to the office of the Jisha-bugyd. As a result of these restrictive procedures, the Shugen-dB temples and the shugen-sha or yamabushi became subordinate to either the Tendai or the Shingon school. Nevertheless, the shugen-sha or shQto a t the Dewa-sun-zan retained some measure of independence. Here the shugen-sha had occupied only two of the three mountains in the range, Mounts Haguro and Yudono, while the last and highest of the three, Mount Gassan (literally, Mount Moon), although employed for worship by both groups, had not yet been permanently settled. Subsequently, however, it became the center of two Shugen-d6 groups, one called the Haguro sect and the other the Yudono sect. The history of the Shugen-d6 a t Dewa-sun-zan prior to the Tokugawa Period is not yet clear. However, a t the beginning of the Tokugawa Period, there appeared a politically astute priest named TenyQ who had been appointed a superintendent (bettd) to the Haguro sect in 1630. TenyQ had been deeply attached to the famous Tenkai SBj6 of the Tendai school, an aide-de-camp to Tokugawa Iyeyasu, commonly known as the "Premier in the Black Robe." Accordingly, TenyQ soon declared openly to the subordinates of Kan'ei-ji in Yedo, which had been built and occupied by Tenkai, that he and his semi232

naries a t Mount Haguro had been converted to the Tendai school. TenyQ's ambition seems to have been to use the political influence of Tenkai to consolidate under his own leadership the doctrines and practices, as well as the policy and economy, of the seminaries on the Three Sacred Mountains, and the whole shugen-sha. Originally, there were seven pilgrimage routes to the shrine on the top of Mount Gassan. Each of these proceeded from a group of seminaries and sendatsu's dwellings centering around a main temple. Two of these settlements acceded to the wish of TenyQ, but four of the rest-Dainichi-bB and Churen-ji on the western foot of Mount Gassan, and Dainichi-ji and I-TondB-ji on its eastern foot-set themselves to oppose it, for they had long been a t odds with the Haguro sect. These four had traditionally been closely united, and all shared allegiance to the deity of Mount Yudono, an incarnation of Dainichinydrai (Mahcivairocanasatathdgata)and a supreme Buddha of the Shingon school. I t was their desire, therefore, that the whole shugen-sha and sendatsu be converted to the Shingon school, the adversary of the Tendai. The chief abbots of these four centers declared that since, in ancient times Mount Yudono had been discovered and developed by KQkai (K6bB Daishi), they should be restored to the Shingon school and be subject to the authority of KongBbu-ji on Mount KBya. After three long series (1639-1791) of legal proceedings initiated by TenyQ against the four centers of the Yudono sect in order to convert them to the Tendai school, the judgment of the Jisha-bugyd was a t last given in favor of the defendants. As a result, the Haguro sect and the Yudono sect operated independently of each other in such matters as doctrine, policy, and economy. Quarrels and conflicts continued to break out between the two, however, and even today there is a discrepancy between them, not only in institutional and doctrinal aspects but in emotional ones as well. IV. DOCTRINAL


According to the theories of the Yudono sect concerning the "Honjisuijaku" (the reality behind the phenomenal appearance) of the Three Sacred Mountains, the deity of Mount Gassan was an incarnation of Amitabha Buddha and the peak of the mountain one of his terrestrial pure lands, while the deity of Mount Yudono was an incarnation of MahAvairocana Buddha and ruled over the Garbhakosadhhtu (Taizdkai), a counterpart to MahAvairocana's rule over the Vajra-dhAtu (Kongd-kai) in the Great Mandala, a supreme iconographic symbol of the Shingon school.

Self-mummijed Buddhas in J a p a n Some very complicated and mysterious developments have taken place in the religious thought of the Shingon school, one of which seems to have been the evolution of the MahAvairocana, who rules over the GarbhakoSadhAtu from a primitive goddess of the Great Mother variety. As I have pointed out above, a huge rock from which hot mineral waters flow is worshiped a t the Yudono Shrine, and it is said that this rock symbolizes a female body. At the same time, this shrine was believed to be a place for the practice of austerities, as well as for becoming a Buddha in one's own body. The shugen-sha of the Yudono sect chose to bypass the deity named Haguro-gongen, who was native to Mount Haguro and supposed to give divine favors in this world, preferring instead the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha and the promise of Mahhvairocana that each believer can become a Buddha in his own body. Though the last two ideas might be thought to be inconsistent, the ascetics of the Yudono sect practiced their austerities in order to become Buddha or enter nirvcina as in their own bodies, while praying Arnitabha Buddha to complete their invocation. I believe that the above historical background may explain in part why the six mummified Buddhas have come only from among the ascetics of the Yudono sect, those specifically who are called issegy6nin, are permitted to bear the kai-sufi on their religious name, and practice abstention from cereals (mokujiki-gyG). I must now give a detailed explanation of the structure of the Yudono sect of the ShugendB to clarify the characteristics of self-mummified Buddhas. The ShugendB priests and ascetics consisted in general of three ranks: the first was composed of the seis6 shugen (authorized Buddhist monks) who were appointed as chief abbot or priest a t the main temple or in their own seminary (in), and presided over the lower ranks of hereditary sendatsu (or shdto, shugen-sha) and their dwellings (bG). They formed the very heart of the Shugen-dB, for they controlled the services for pilgrims and believers, the economy, and the management in general of the whole institution. Unlike the shugen-sha of the Kumano who had scattered and settled down in various places all over Japan, systematizing the pilgrims and believers in each area, the shugen-sha of the Yudono, following the principle of the TGzan-ha line, were not permitted to remain permanently in any one locality. They traveled here and there from the centers on Mount Ohmine in order to propagate their religious faith, as well as to take care of pilgrims regardless of their school and temple affiliation. This is a striking point of contrast between the TBzan-ha line and the Honzanha (Kumano shugen-sha), based upon the kasumi system, in which

the priest of a leading temple controlled each local shugen-sha or yamabushi. The Yudono sect, however, had the third rank called the gydnin; these were not shugen-sha or shuto but true ascetic devotees. The name gydnin was originally that of one of the three divisions in the monastic system of Mount K8ya: the first and top rank was the gakuryo-gata (learned monks' side); the second was the gydnin-gata, in charge of revenue, expenditures, and accounts in the Mount KBya headquarters; while the third was the hijiri-gata, those individuals who traveled all over Japan under the name of Kdya-hijiri to propagate Nenbutsu beliefs, as well as to gather the ashes of unknown people and carry them back to Mount KBya where memorial services were held for them. While the function of the gydnin of the Yudono sect was unlike that of the gydnin on Mount KBya, the name was the same. The highest class of gydnin in the Yudono sect was the isse-gyhin, while the lowest was the hztokuchi-gydnin, the temporal pilgrims from various places. The isse-gydnin were the ascetics who, contrary to the example of the sendatsu or shugen-sha, followed the Buddhist precepts with all strictness. Abandoning wife and children, they fled to the mountain and, with faith in the deity of Mount Yudono and KBbB-Daishi, devoted their lives to the practice of asceticism and the salvation of the people. At first the isse-gy6nin was initiated as a disciple into a seminary in one of the four centers of the Yudono. Under the guidance of a teacher ranked in the seisd (gakuryo, learned priest), he was taught simple doctrines and the recitation of s.litras, as well as the performance of rituals and the mystery of the sacred fire. He was given the issekaigo which is the religious name with the kai-suffix peculiar to the isse-gydnin. During this period the isse-gydnin lived as a Buddhist priest in the Yudono sect of the Shingon school under the control of KongB-bu-ji on Mount KBya. His head was shaved and he wore a black sacerdotal robe. After two or three years training a t the seminary, the isse-gydnin grew his hair long, adopted a white robe, beard, and mustache, and began a secluded life a t Sennin-zawa ("Swamp of Wizards"). The most significant characteristic of ascetic training a t Sennin-zawa was the so-called mokujiki-gyd mentioned above which lasted for one to four thousand days and permitted only the consumption of buckwheat flour and some kinds of nuts and grass roots. After cold-water ablutions the isse-gydnin worshiped three times a day a t the Yudono Shrine; unlike members of the other two ranks, he was now without a teacher and free to discipline himself.

Self-mummiJied Buddhas in Japan
The isse-gydnin a t Sennin-zawa, which is three kilometers distance from the Yudono Shrine and lies along the pilgrims' road from Dainichi-bB and Churen-ji to Mount Yudono, stood in a close relation to the people of Tamugimata Village on the western foot of Mount Yudono, the only community on that road. Because the village had originally developed as a transit station for pilgrimage, the people there felt an obligation to support the isse-gydnin during his daily life a t Senninzawa. Many monuments to the memory of prominent isse-gydnin can be found which were erected from 1700 to 1900 by their disciples and followers in and around Sennin-zawa hermitage and Tamugimata. To clarify the characteristics of the isse-gydnin, we note the wording on some of them:
1. 1836 (The Seventh Year of TenpB)

"Mokujiki-gy6ja" (ascetic who practiced abstention from cereals) "Tetsu-un-kai ShBnin" "Sefua-nin" (caretaker) "ShunkB-in" (a hereditary shugen-sha of Churen-ji) 2. 1856 (The Third Year of Ansei) "Shimekake Mokujiki-gyija Zen-kai" (Zen-kai, an ascetic who practiced abstention from cereals in Shimekake-mura, the home of Churen-ji) 3. 1862 (The Second Year of Bunkyu) "Issen-nichi Sanrd" (one-thousand-day confinements at the Yudono Shrine) "Tetsuryu-kai" (a mummified Buddha) "Un-kai" (Tetsuryu-kai's disciple) "Sewa-nin" (caretakers) "Tamugimata-mura" (names of two persons) "Oami-mura" (names of three persons) "Shimekake-mura" (names of three persons) 'Higashi-araya-mura" (name of one person) "Iwamoto-mura" (name of one person) 4. 1900 (The Thirty-third Year of Meiji) "Kyu-sen-nichi Yama-gomori Ito Un-kai" (Un-kai, who had practiced nine thousand days of confinement a t Mount Yudono)

After training for more than a thousand days a t Sennin-zawa, the isse-gydnin left the mountain and traveled from place to place as itinerant missionaries. Some of them acquired disciples because of the merits of their magical powers and their social work. Occasionally temples called gydnin-dera were built and dedicated to a particular gydnin by his followers, while some gydnin succeeded their master as the chief abbot or supervisor of such a temple. The gydnin-dera system played an important role in the missionary work to various local areas of the Yudono sect, and helped to provide a substitute for the kasumi system as found in the Kumano Shugen-d6. The isse-gydnin

of various gydnin-dera gathered and systematized their followers, guiding them to the main seminary (hon-ji) of either Churen-ji, Dainichi-bB, EIondB-ji, or Dainichi-ji to encourage a pilgrimage to Mount Yudono. Furthermore, the isse-gydnin supplied the central seminaries and conductors (sendatsu) with a huge sum of money, and the prosperity of Mount Yudono depended upon their activities. The succession of the chief abbot of the gydnin-dera was not hereditary as was that of the mountain shugen-sha or sendatsu. Another characteristic of the gydnin-dera was that it included only voluntary adherents not true parishioners (danka). Thus, it was an exceptional case in the temple system of the Tokugawa Shogunate and resembled rather the system of seisd's seminaries (in). We may illustrate this by giving as an example the succession of supervisors a t a typical gy8nin-dera, KaikB-ji in Sakata City, where two mummified Buddhas are enshrined. KaikB-ji was presumably built by ChQ-kai ShBnin (a mummified Buddha), although its legendary founder was KQkai (KBb8 Daishi). From the Tokugawa Period onward, KaikB-ji belonged to Churen-ji on Mount Yudono. However, it now belongs to both Churen-ji and Chishaku-in in Kyoto, headquarters of the New Shingon School (Shingi Shingon-shzi). The supposed lineage of the supervisors of this temple found in the necrology and memorial tablets is as follows:
1. Chfi-kai Shonin (d. 1755). Isse-gydnin. A self-mummified Buddha. 2. Seihan HBin (d. 1771). May have been a disciple of Churen-ji. 3. YQchi Dai-OshB (date of death unknown). May have been a seisd who had been appointed by the chief abbot at Churen-ji. 4. ChBei Con-Risshi (d. 1782). May have been a disciple of Churen-ji. 5. KeiryQ HBin (date of death unknown). May have been same as above. 6. TenryQ-kai ShBnin (d. 1805). Isse-gydnin. 7. Enmy6kai ShBnin (d. 1822). Isse-gydnin. A self-mummified Buddha. 8. Tetsumon-kai ShBnin (d. 1829). Isse-gydnin. A self-mummified Buddha. 9. Nan-kai ShBnin (d. 1829). Isse-gydnin. 10. Sei-kai ShBnin (d. about 1843). Isse-gydnin. 11. Rin-kai ShBnin (d. 1853). Isse-gydnin. 12. Zen-kai ShBnin (d. 1871). Isse-gydnin. 13. KyBun-kai ShBnin (d. 1892). Isse-gydnin. 14. Sei-kai ShBnin (d. 1894). Isse-gydnin. 15. Yfi-kai ShBnin (d. 1897). Isse-gydnin. 16. KBun-kai ShBnin (d. 1902). Isse-gydnin. 17. Reiun-kai ShBnin (d. 1916). Isse-gydnin. 18. Tokuryb-kai ShBnin (d. 1917). Isse-gydnin. 19. KB-kai ShBnin (d. 1920). Isse-gydnin. 20. Zen-kai ShBnin (d. 1928). Isse-gydnin. 21. KBki HBin (d. 1937). Appointed by the chief abbot at Churen-ji.

Self-mummified Buddhas i n Japan
22. EihB HBin (d. 1952). Appointed by the chief abbot a t Churen-ji, born of the shugen-sha family named SeizB-in a t Churen-ji. 23. Present abbot. Appointed by the chief abbot at Churen-ji; studied a t Churen-ji and Chishaku-in.

In closing this section, I would like to give a r6sum6 of the structure and functions of the Yudono sect of the Shugen-dB. According to a manuscript dated 1804, they were as follows: A. Western Provinces:
Governing Temples: Churen-ji (in Shimekake-mura) Dainichi-bB (in 6ami-mura) Seisd-bettd: Superintendent of each temple who presides over disciples (shugen-sha or shdto, sendatsu, and isse-gyhin). Shugen-sha or Shato: Residents at their particular in or 66 in the vicinity of the superintendent temple; succession through heredity; ten shugensha each and their seminary under Churen-ji and Dainichi-b6. The shugen-sha has the right to conduct all pilgrims to Mount Yudono except those from the Northeast. Annai-sendatsu: Beneath the shugen-sha, there are fifteen professional conductors or guides who have the right to escort only those pilgrims coming from the Northeast. Succession was by heredity. While the shugensha was not a peasant directly ruled by a lord, although in courtesy he was treated as such and pressed into public service, the annai-sendatsu was a peasant directly ruled by the fief (han) both nominally and virtually. The former is tonsured in principle, while the latter is longhaired. Isse-gydnin: The scope of the activities of the isse-gydnin extends to Niigata and Yamanashi prefectures in the west, centering around the Northeast and the KantB areas. B. Eastern Provinces: Governing Temples: HondB-ji (in Hodouchi-mura) Dainichi-ji (in oizawa-mura) Seisd-bettd: Superintendent of each temple, presiding over seminaries, disciples, sendatsu, isse-gydnin, and others. Seisd-tutchzl: There are six seminaries peculiar to the learned monks of the Shingon school, located within the precincts of their governing temple; the monks who reside in these seminaries are not permitted to conduct pilgrims, and they are exempted from all public services assigned by the han government. Sendatsu: There are seventy conductors or guides in each; some of them are peasants under the control of the governing temple, others are within the temple estate; they have the right to conduct pilgrims from all over Japan; though not directly under the control of the han government, in courtesy they are treated as peasants and take part in public services; some are tonsured but many are long-haired and wear the so-called kake-goromo (informal robe) during the pilgrimage season. Isse gydnin: Same as those in the western provinces, they scatter and settle down a t gydnin-dera in various places; they are controlled by the fure-gashira in their particular area; for instance, the fure-gashira in

Yedo are H8j6-in for the subsect of HondG-ji, and Fukumoto-in for the Dainichi-ji. C. Regulations concerning the pilgrimage to Mount Yudono: 1. The pilgrims who have reported to HondB-ji or Dainichi-ji must go to any of the six tatcht2 seminaries. There they are met by the particular sendatsu in charge of their regions (danna-ha). Having received a fixed fee, the sendatsu guides the pilgrims to the governing temple, in which they are treated to a meal. After this they are conducted by their particular sendatsu back to the tatch.22.where they remain for the night. The next morning they are led to Mount Yudono and Mount Gassan. The fee mentioned above belongs to the governing temple, a charge for one night's lodging is collected by the tatcht2 seminary, while the income of the sendatsu results from the charges made for prayers and exorcisms in the sacred mountains. 2. The pilgrims who report to Churen-ji or Dainichi-bB are met by shugen-sha or sht2to. The latter receive a fixed fee, part of which goes to the governing temple, the remaining portion being considered as a charge for conduct into the mountains. The pilgrims then have their meal and remain for the night a t the temple, preparing themselves for their journey the next morning to Mounts Yudono and Gassan. The income collected from the prayers and exorcisms in the mountains is kept by the shugen-sha and annai-sendatsu.

Finally, I would like to touch briefly upon the subject of abstinence from cereals (mokujiki-gyd), the practice of all isse-gydnin a t Senninzawa. As I have already pointed out, the tradition of mokujiki-gyd presumably originated in the Last Injunction of Kbkai, in which he relates that for three years before his death he despised the consumption of cereals. Mokujiki-gyd seems to have been influenced either by Hindu asceticism (Yoga) or by the training of wizards in Taoism. Of course, though it should not be a Buddhist doctrine proper, Japanese mountain ascetics usually adopted it in order to master the mysteries of religion, as well as to acquire superhuman powers. I t should be remembered that Japanese Shugen-dd (mountain asceticism) is a compound of ancient shamanistic magic and M a n t r a y h a Buddhism, Yin-yang magic, and Taoism. We may now note further instances of the practice of mokujiki-gyd in the history of Japanese religion. First, there is the case reported by the Montoku Jitsuroku (Official Record during the Reign of Emperor Montoku, 850-58) in which an upcisaka who came to Kyoto in 854 announced that he abstained from cereals. An imperial edict provided him with a lodging in the Imperial Garden named Shinsen-en, and he there became the object of worship by the citizens of Kyoto, who asked

Self-mummi$ed Buddhas in Japan
him to pray for them and the welfare of their private affairs. Many women especially were dazzled by the brilliance of his reputation. After about a month, however, someone claimed that he was eating rice a t midnight and going to the toilet early every morning. Others then spied upon his doings and discovered high piles of rice excrement. As a result, public estimation for him rapidly declined, and he was dubbed a bei-fun-hijiri (saint of rice excrements). Second, we find in the Gyokuyb (diary of Kuj6 Kanezane, a chief adviser to the emperor, 1149-1207) that in the first year of Genryaku (1184), on the third day of the last month, a saint named GyBshB-b6 came to Kanezane's house and talked with him for several hours. Kanezane wrote: "This saint has practiced abstinence from cereals a t Mount K6ya and is said to have done so with great efficacy." This saint is also mentioned in another diary, Tamashibe, in the fourth year of ShBgen (1210), on the fifth day of the ninth month: "GyBshB ShBnin is now eighty-one years old, practices abstinence from six kinds of cereal. His moral energy seems to be very vigorous. I s he a real incarnation of the Buddha in his own body?" The Jikkin-shb (legendary literature compiled in the Kamakura Period, 1185-1337) mention that a Buddhist priest who lived in the mountain temple named Kong6-ji in Kawachi (Osaka Prefecture) usually took only pine needles as his daily food. He had heard that those who do so do not suffer from the lack of cereals and that upon completion of the practice they become wizards and are able to fly freely through the air. Several other examples could be added from the documents of the Middle Ages. We may point out, however, that the GyBsh6 ShBnin cited above transmitted the tradition of mokujiki-gyb on Mount KBya a t the end of the Heian and a t the beginning of the Kamakura Period. As a matter of fact, mokujiki-gy8 on Mount KBya is supposed to have been practiced continuously from generation to generation from the medieval to the Tokugawa Period. The Kii-no-Kuni Meisho-. xuye (A Pictorial Description of Noted Places in Present Wakayama Prefecture), compiled in the Tokugawa Period, says that the center of mokujiki-gy6 practices was built by ChBgu ShBnin. He had been chief abbot a t ByBd6-ji in Miwa-mura in Nara Prefecture, a temple affiliated with the deity of the Miwa Jinja Shrine, but when he was converted to the teaching of KQkai, he entered Mount KBya, residing a t RenjB-in Seminary in Isshin'in Valley, and then transferred to TBrin-in Seminary near the holy of holies where the corpse of KQkai was enshrined. He practiced mokujiki-gyd a t his seminary, and he was therefore called mokujiki-Ch6gu. He was succeeded as chief abbot by

Kaiho ShGnin, and thereafter mokujiki-gyd practices became a main' stay of the training program there. To understand the great importance of mokujiki-gyd among the isse-gydnin of the Yudono sect, one must also appreciate the role played on Mount K6ya by the politically astute g y h i n named Ohgo (1536-1608). He had been a warrior (samurai) who was converted to Shingon Buddhism a t the age of thirty-seven. He took only fruits and nuts as his daily food a t Mount K6ya and was called mokujiki-Sh6nin. He was not a genuine Shingon priest but only a guest-priest on Mount KBya, just as were the isse-gydnin on Mount Yudono. However, an accident made him a mail of distinction. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi wished to attack Mount Kdya in 1585, Ohgo mediated between Hideyoshi and the authorities of Mount K6ya, and he secured a n agreement from Hideyoshi to protect Mount K6ya against the ravages of war. As a result, Mokujiki-Sh6nin converted Hideyoshi and enjoyed his confidence. Hideyoshi intrusted him with the management of Mount KBya and all its seminaries, saying to the priests of Mount KGya, "You must not think of Ohgo as a Mokujiki a t K6ya, but as the 'Mount K6ya of Mokujiki.' " Thus, Hideyoshi's proclamation bears witness to his reliance on mokujiki-Sh6nin. I n accordance with the order of Hideyoshi, Ohgo later built a Great Buddha a t HBkB-ji. When the conflict a t Sekigahara burst out in 1600 between the Toyotomi and the Tokugawa, the decisive moment was reached for the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate and its feudal system. Ohgo desired to mediate between the two sides to restore peace, but his offer was refused by Tokugawa Iyeyasu, for Ohgo had been too intimately associated with Hideyoshi. After the battle, Ohgo resigned his position as superintendent-general on Mount KBya, and he was succeeded by his disciple Seiyo who belonged to the gydnin group. As a result, the gakuryo (learned priests) group initiated measures against Seiyo and the g y h i n group, since throughout the long history of Mount K6ya they had been superior to the gydnin element there, although they were forced to submit to the leadership of Ohgo in the crucial years around 1585. However, the crisis a t Mount KBya had passed. Meanwhile the strong Tokugawa Shogunate was established. Accordingly, the gakuryo brought suit against Seiyo's rule over Mount KBya with the intention of recovering their lost rights. (When the name of gydnin had first appeared on Mount KBya in 1130, they had been a minority group whose function was to serve a t the holy of holies, but in the course of time they had gradually increased and seized the right to perform services a t the guardian deity's shrine, as

Self-mummified Buddhas in Japan
well as the management of the secular affairs of all the seminaries on Mount KBya. The gakuryo therefore eyed the gydnin with contempt, while the latter prepared all their forces for a struggle with the gakuryo.) The suit initiated in 1602 continued for almost a hundred years, and concluded with more than six hundred of the gydnin a t Mount K8ya being sent into exile. Because of the lack of documentary evidence, we cannot ascertain where the exiled gydnin may have settled down. Nor is it clear precisely what influence the personality and activities of Ohgo and his mokujiki-gyd had upon the isse-gydnin of the Yudono sect. However, we cannot deny the indirect influence of the Shingon school a t Mount Kdya if we remember (1) the sudden rise of the isse-gydnin group a t Mount Yudono after 1700; (2) the custom of assigning the kai-suffix of the priest name only to the isse-gydnin; (3) the practice of abstinence from cereals (mokujiki-gyd) which was peculiar to the issegydnin group; (4) the strong desire of the isse-gydnin to become a Buddha in his own body (soku-shin-jdbutsu) as the perfection of the self; and ( 5 ) that the pattern for the worship of the self-mummified Buddhas was the legend of K6b8 Daishi a t Mount KBya.

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