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In Which An 8th Century Monk Trolls Us All


Inside this telephone booth of yore lies the Miroku Stone. For hundreds of years (since the time of the venerable Kobo Daishi*) it has been known that if a virtuous person reaches through the little window and picks up the stone, it will feel light. But if you’ve been a bad boy, it will be unbearably heavy.

So...feeling lucky?
So…feeling lucky?

I watched as dozens of people lined up to find out if the Buddha of the Future agreed with their own assessment of their character…and have to admit that I was deeply entertained when they were ALL disappointed.

Yep, that little bugger of a stone is deceptively heavy (I know what you’re thinking SHUT UP) but…is this not an excellently-told lesson for the ages?

* The eminently overachieving Kobo Daishi (or Kukai, as he was known in life) founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism, which basically teaches that you don’t have to be reborn a gazillion times (sometimes as a mosquito or other unpleasant life form) in order to attain enlightenment. You can do it in one, if you carefully follow his (exceedingly strict) teachings.

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had 

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

5 thoughts on “In Which An 8th Century Monk Trolls Us All Leave a comment

  1. It’s at Koya-san, one of Japan’s sacred pilgrimage mountains (in Wakayama Prefecture, near Osaka). The approach to the place where Kobo Daishi is enshrined takes you through a graveyard of the Great & Good (including many impressive corporate monuments featuring things like coffee cups and the iconic Yakult yogurt drink bottle carved from funereal granite). When you’re nearly at the temple, you can see this little booth on the left.

    • Would love to hear about your experience afterwards, if you have a chance. All monk jokes aside, I arrived there like a typical tourist with no Buddhist ties, and was actually slammed by the power of the place. I don’t know many people who have been there, so would love to hear from a fellow traveler.

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