JAPAN: Oblation or Inflation

Once again, as they had for 700 years, the chosen priests of Japan's Nichiren Buddhist sect trouped to the temple of Hokkekyo to undergo 100 days of purification and study. At the temple gateway stood Chief Priest Nissei Nakakita, asking the novices for six times last year's entrance fee. For three months of contemplation and 700 duckings in the ice-cold waters of the temple pump, 58 novices paid the inflated rate. Outside "the door that is not opened" devoted followers waited eagerly for their cries as freezing water coursed down their naked bodies.

For 59 days the prayers and the cries...

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