The modern world is fascinated with mummies, from the ancient archaeological remains uncovered in countries around the world, to the modern monster mythos that remains a movie favourite. But while the former category is often equated directly with ancient Egypt – along with perhaps Peru, and the bog bodies of Europe – there are also some mummies found in Japan. And there’s something unique about these mummies: they began turning themselves into mummies *before* they died:
Over a hundred tried, but just a few dozen succeeded. Living in the mountains, drinking arsenic-laced water, lacquer, and starving nearly to death – the life and death of the sokushinbutsu, the Japanese who mummified themselves.
The short video on the sokushinbutsu embedded above is part of a new web series titled ‘Rare Earth‘, part of former astronaut Chris Hadfield’s YouTube presence. Hosted by his son Evan, ‘Rare Earth’ is dedicated to uncovering unique stories and locations from across the globe. Host Evan Hadfield brings a humorous, rationalist approach to the series, so some might find the commentary slightly on the ‘skeptical snark’ side, although there’s plenty of good points and funny asides if you don’t take it all too seriously.
As is obvious from the topic in the above clip, the series has begun its worldwide tour of interesting places in Japan, and another of the videos from that location concerns the legend that Jesus escaped to Japan, and died there:
Did you know that Jesus wasn’t crucified? It was his brother Isukiri, who ‘casually’ snuck onto the cross in his place. As it turns out, Jesus slipped away through Siberia and spent the rest of his life in Shingo, Japan. He stopped spreading the gospel and set up shop as a rice farmer. At least, that’s what a man named Wado would have you believe.
I’m not sure about filing the ‘Jesus in Japan’ legend under ‘conspiracy theory’, as they do here – and it’s interesting that in the discussion of how seriously we take various cults, Christianity itself wasn’t mentioned as an examplar. But it’s still a fun little series that should provide a few insights to some hidden history/’conspiracies’ as it continues, so subscribe if you enjoy.