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Sacred Moments of Taki-Gyo: Waterfall Asceticism

The Invitation to Taki-Gyo

My adorable wife, Hitomi, invited me to join her for Taki Gyo (滝行), which is something I have wanted to experience for years. 

Taki Gyo is a spiritual and cleansing practice rooted in Japanese Shugendō, an integrated religion that combines elements of Buddhism, Shintoism, and Taoism. Taki Gyo involves standing or sitting under a waterfall for extended periods. The goal is to endure the cold and powerful rushing water as a form of purification and spiritual awakening.  

The Taki Gyo ceremony was held in Mt. Takao, which is about an hour from our home in Sugamo, Tokyo by train. 

We were joined by six other participants and our dear friend Rerika (front and center) was our trusted guide. 

At the foot of Mt. Takao

My Intentions for Experiencing Taki-Gyo

I went with the intention of enjoying my time with Hitomi, meeting the other participants of our group and spending some time in the mountains.  However what I actually experienced was unexpected and yet so welcomed.  

I experienced three very deep, sacred moments that each moved me and brought tears to my eyes.

Three Sacred Moments during Taki-Gyo

  1. The Power of Stillness – Before going into the waterfall there was a ceremony where we recited a mantra in Japanese, and each participant placed incense in a large bowl in the temple.  I experienced a profound stillness there.  That stillness stopped time for a moment and in that space tears welled up from my heart to my eyes.
  2. Connecting with the Divine – It’s hard to put into words, but for the first time, I experienced God without labels or judgment.  The light from the sun, the trees, and the air was God.  In that moment, I felt that it is all God, and all forms of God, regardless of culture or religion are referring to that same essence.  Another welling-up of tears occurred the moment I felt this. 
  3. Love & Gratitude for my Wife – Hitomi was the first one from our group to “Go Under the Falls”. As I watched her chanting the mantra in the loudest voice she could muster while getting slammed by the power of the waterfall, I felt an overwhelming love for her.  A feeling of deep gratitude for being able to be with her, through thick and thin, and share our lives together shook me as much as the waterfall was shaking her.  More tears.  
Biwa Taki at Yakuoin Temple, Mt. Takao

Reflecting on Taki-Gyo

I didn’t go to Taki Gyo for a spiritual experience, but I definitely got one.  In fact, I got three. I made a lot of new friends as well. 

If you feel that you would like to experience Taki-Gyo, make it happen!  I highly recommend it. 

And by the way, the water is really cold : )

Lots of love,


Layers of Beautiful Light
Bathing in the Light