Kumano is a region in Japan where Shugendo, the Way of ascetic training and testing in holy mountains, has been practised for over a thousand years. This entire short film was shot there. It shows Yamabushi monk Kosho Tateishi, a Master and Teacher of Shugendo, during prayer rituals performed in the wild and at his temple. In his spiritual practices, Kosho is in visceral contact with the elements (earth, water, fire, wind) and in fusion with sacred Nature. The experience of Life through the physical senses awakes our consciousness and ultimately leads to enlightenment in this very body.
Made possible thanks to the great help of Alena Eckelmann, Kosho Tateishi, Fukami Uzawa, Mark Patrick McGuire, Jean-Marc Abela, Jean Burgert. Thank you Alena for recommending me some of the greatest spots to explore in Kumano, especially some amazing trails of the Kumano Kodō. Thank you Kosho for welcoming me at Sangakurin and for sharing your way of living during my stay.
I also want to send a very special thanks to the talented composer Oliver Dowie who created the original soundtrack by wonderfully mixing together some traditional prayers, chantings and instruments recorded on site like the Horagai, a large conch shell used by Yamabushi for spiritual meanings.
I hope to be back in Kumano next year to shoot a feature length film on the same topic.
Directed, filmed & edited by
Mathieu Le Lay
© Mathieu Le Lay - 2015