The world's greatest athletes may well live on top of a sacred mountain in Japan. As part of their spiritual training, the monks run 84 km every day for over three months.
Genshin Fujinami runs through the forest for 17 hours every day. His straw sandals offer him little protection from the poisonous snakes and jagged rocks and his feet are blistered and bruised. But if he stops, he would be obliged to immediately kill himself. "You must think positively," he explains. "I cannot allow myself to think 'what if?'" The gruelling 'Kaihygo' is the conclusion of seven years of training. He must also go nine days without food, water or sleep. If he completes the quest, he will become a living saint. But only 46 monks have completed it in the last four centuries and fewer and fewer people are attempting it. "Japanese culture is gradually dying away," Fujinami laments. The monks may have a wonderful history but their future is one of uncertainty. (ABC Aus)