The 111-year-old man recognised as Japan’s 2nd oldest is in fact a mummified corpse which died 30 years ago.
The man was born in the 32nd year of the Meiji era, or 1899 in barbarian dates, making him 111 as of 2010.
Seeing his advanced age in their records, bureaucrats at Tokyo’s Adachi ward decided to pay a visit to their ward’s oldest resident and present him with a gift in celebration of his birthday on the 29th of July.
Arriving at his residence with a police escort, they met his 81-year-old daughter, who declined their offer of a gift on his behalf, saying “Father doesn’t want to meet with anyone.”
A 53-year-old grandchild of his subsequently paid a visit to a local police station, explaining to them that “Grandfather said ‘I want to become a mummy’ and ‘I’d like to attain Buddhahood during my life’ 30 years ago and shut himself up his room.”
Police quickly moved to investigate his residence and found him still in his room – his corpse completely mummified.
Adachi officials had previously wanted to check up on the man, but had been turned away “as he didin’t want to see anyone” at that time as well.
The practice of “Sokushinbutsu,” where Buddhist monks would ritually starve themselves to death with the objective of leaving a perfectly dessicated corpse behind and thus attaining Buddhahood (and incidentally leave behind a corpse which the faithful would worship), is well documented in Japanese history, although the practice has long since died out after being banned in 1879.
On a more worldly note, police have launched an investigation after it transpired that $100,000 in pensions had been paid out to the man since he attained “Buddhahood.”
The whole incident also raises some very disturbing questions about just how much of Japan’s ancient and pension receiving population is actually still alive – notably, Japan has some of the lowest autopsy rates found anywhere in the developed world.