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Adherents of Tendai Buddhism believe that enlightenment is achieved through devotion. For Tendai monks on Mount Hiei in Japan, the ultimate expression of devotion is a practice known as Kaihōgyō (or ‘circling the mountain’) – a seven-year pilgrimage considered as one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges on Earth. Since 1885, only 46 men have completed the gruelling ascetic practice. This short film by the Italian-born director Ivan Olita follows a Tendai monk as he begins Kaihōgyō, which requires completing tasks at temples on his path while traveling at least 25 miles each day. If he reaches the end of the journey, only then will he face Kaihōgyō’s most trying test: nine days without food, water or sleep, meant to bring him as close to death as possible. Through cinematic camerawork and richly layered sound design, The 1,000 Days offers a rare glimpse into this singular ritual, and shares advice full of wisdom even for those facing far less arduous endurance tests.
Director: Ivan Olita
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