Obituary: Yusai Sakai

Kyodo

Buddhist monk Yusai Sakai, known for twice achieving a significant feat of ascetic training in the 1980s, died of heart failure Monday, his family said. He was 87.

Sakai, a monk of the Tendai school of Buddhism, achieved the feat known as “sennichi kaihogyo” in 1980 after having walked some 40,000 km through mountainous areas of the 848-meter Mount Hiei and in the city of Kyoto over a period of seven years. The Tendai sect is headquartered at Enryaku Temple on Mount Hiei in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture.

In 1987, Sakai repeated the feat at the age of 60.

Sakai was the third person to have achieved sennichi kaihogyo twice since 16th-century warlord Oda Nobunaga destroyed Enryaku Temple in 1571.

In 1991, Sakai made a pilgrimage to the 3,058-meter Mount Wutai in China’s Shanxi province and joined with Chinese monks in praying for the souls of war victims. Mount Wutai is known as a sacred site in Chinese Buddhism.

In 1995, Sakai visited the Vatican and met with Pope John Paul II (1920-2005).