, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 1237-1238
Date: 07 Sep 2011

From the Editors’ Desk: Religion, Health and Cucumbers

This is an excerpt from the content

For 2 days each July, there is an annual ceremony organized by the monks at the Gochizan Renge-ji Temple, located in the northwest hills of Kyoto, Japan. Known as the Cucumber Purification Ceremony, this odd and fascinating event has taken place, virtually unchanged, for hundreds of years.

The monks at Gochizan Renge-ji Temple are followers of Shingon (“True Word”) Buddhism, one of the main schools of Japanese Buddhism, brought to Japan from China by the renowned Buddhist monk Kukai in the year 806 AD. Shingon is one of the Esoteric Buddhism lineages; its rituals have never been written down. Instead, its practices have been passed down by word of mouth for centuries. In the past, Shingon monks were called upon to perform mystical rituals such as summoning the rain, warding off invading armies and healing the sick.

Which brings me back to the Cucumber Purification Ceremony. On a humid day in late July, my wife and I visited the Gochizan Renge-ji temple to take part in this ancient ceremo