Thursday, August 3, 2017

Isakiji Saotobi: The Diving Monks of Lake Biwa

Isakiji Saotobi: The Diving Monks of Lake Biwa


A small temple north of Omi-Hachiman in Shiga prefecture has tradition that is 1,100 years old.
During a ceremony, known simply was "sao tobi" (pole jumping), monks walk on a wooden beam that extends 13 meters over Lake Biwa. 
The main event, the pole jumping, takes place at 11AM on August first every year.
The Day actually consists of three events: The prayers and services during which the jump is prepared (10AM), the jumps (11AM-1PM) and a ceremony in which prayer sticks are burned (2PM).

The legend of the event begins 1100 years ago when a monk throw a bowl down into the sea asking for alms from passing fishermen. The monk, Konryu Daishi, then jumped into Lake Biwa to retrieve the offerings of the fishermen. 

Isakiji temple is in a remote location. The nearby boat dock only receives boat service a few times per day. I had to walk 9 km from a different bus line, so be prepared to walk a lot or pay for a taxi if you are planning on going to the Isakiji Saotobi.


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