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ホーム > Waterfall Meditation – Takigyo at Bentendou Waterfall

Waterfall Meditation – Takigyo at Bentendou Waterfall

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Have you ever tried to meditate? Do you feel like it is hard to concentrate on your breathing and clear your mind? What about doing that below a 23m waterfall with a freezing water? It sounded so interesting, that we had to go there and try this unique experience out ourselves!
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Takigyo (滝行) is the name in Japanese for the waterfall meditation, a practice widely spread throughout the country. The objective of Takigyo is to cleanse the mind, body and soul through a Buddhism purification ritual.
But to get things a little hard but also rewarding, the “cleansing” happens under the rough waters of a waterfall at approx. 15 degrees Celsius. Going through the experience promises to test your limits and allows you to go through mental-training and self-discovery.
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Luckily for us, Yamanashi is home to one of the best places in Japan to try Takigyo, the Bentendou Taki (雄瀧辨天堂). This waterfall is in the special and cozy town of Hayakawa which happens to be the least populated town in the country (Hayakawa has a lot of more interesting things to visit, so if you plan going there we highly suggest you to read also these articles). Despite being the smallest town in Japan population wise, it is the second largest in terms of its land area. Yes, that’s right, the second biggest town of Japan also has the lowest population. So, it is no surprise that there is almost no public transportation available, so it’s best to hop in your car if you plan on visiting the area.


The road that leads to the Bentendou Taki, regardless from where you started your journey, is an attraction by itself. It goes through a deep valley, surrounded by thick forests and with the waters of a clear blue river gently flowing by your side. Sometimes wild animals like monkeys and deer appears on the road, so make sure to drive carefully as you enjoy the trip to Bentendou.

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We went to try our hand at this unique experience around noon on a sunny September day, right after the beginning of the autumn season. For the most part the weather was starting to cool down from the unbearable heat of this year’s summer, but it was clear that we still had a while before autumn really kicked in.
Nevertheless, Takigyo at Bentendou can be done mostly all year around, save for the winter season when the waterfall literally freezes over. But even then, it’s a nice opportunity to come over and take a snap at the giant ice block that forms!

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*Photo from hayakawakankou.daa.jp/archives/

Nearing the Bentendou Taki there is a small parking area available within about a 5-minute uphill walk from the main Buddhist temple for Takigyo-goers.
Upon arrival we were received by the chief priest of the temple. He invited us to enter in the temple, take a seat and then gave some information about the Takigyo ritual and important instructions. What makes this particular waterfall so important is that since the area was initial turned into a Takigyo site, many Takigyo-goers have witnessed certain apparitions. Before their very eyes is said to appear the form of one of the seven God’s of luck and the only female in the group, the divine Diety Benzaiten (Benten for short).


Another thing we learned is that Takigyo isn`t just a onetime thing, in fact in the Buddhism culture the ritual is advised to be done on the regular to keep your body and mind always cleaned. The way you take a shower regularly cleaned, the same works for Takigyo and the cleansing of your soul.


Our conversation with the chief priest took around 15 minutes and is important to notice that they only provide this lecture in Japanese, so if you don’t speak is better to invite someone that can help you with that.

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During the explanation we could hear the strong noise made by the waterfall, which did increase our nerves a little but also made us all the more excited. It was going to be a challenge entering in the cold water, and some of us, by this time still didn’t know if they would have courage to join or not.


After the chief priest's explanation, we were handed the proper Takigyo clothes and split up to our respective changing rooms areas. As can be seen in the photos below, the clothes are quite peculiar and very representative of the Buddhism culture. It was good to know that we would not have to get our clothes wet (just bring a towel), however others in our group understandably didn’t feel comfortable wearing these clothes and refrained from participating

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We spent about 10 minutes preparing ourselves before entering the water. Following Mr. XXX’s suit, we chanted brief religious scriptures, clapped our hands together and shouted out certain phrases that were said to help cleanse our body and mind and keep us warm in preparing for the cold water.


The chief priest was the first enter to the water. First, he wet his hands, then his head, and without further ado quickly got beneath the fall. Perhaps it was because of the strength of his faith, or simply the fact that he is used to Takigyo as we watched him before we couldn’t help but think that he made things look easy.


We watched as he stayed for a few minutes below the waterfall shouting the Buddhism chants and then came out inviting the next guest. One by one we went through the ritual, hesitating at the beginning but overall enjoying the experience.
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Each member of our group felt something different during the Takigyo. Some could only feel the cold and couldn’t think of anything else, others felt the power of the waterfall was too strong and had trouble staying beneath it, but others could really enjoy the experience and truly felt the mind and soul being cleansed.
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But nevertheless, for everyone the overall experience was both very relaxing and refreshing, and I speak on behalf of all of us in recommending that everyone try this experience at least once. In fact, as we were walking back we already began talking about our next trip down! 


Got interested on Takigyo?
Reservation required for waterfall(TEL:0556-45-2122)
Adress: 1245 Akazawa, Hayakawa-cho, Minamikoma-gun, Yamanashi
Zip-code 409-2733
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