Seeing Red

Rants about the Japanese cult Sukyo Mahikari

Photo: Shutterstock

You probably didn’t know this, but The Main World Shrine, yes folks, for all of us, was built by Sukyo Mahikari, in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, in the Japanese Alps. It’s all very impressive. It’s called Suza (where Su God, the head honcho, dwells), or Sekai So Honzan (Main World Shrine) — their new age ‘Solomon’s Temple’.

I’ve been there. As an indoctrinated member (kumite), it was certainly a memorable experience. I’d never been to Japan before. There was a small group of us travelling from our Dojo (Mahikari Centre) in Europe. Demonstrating our utter devotion by travelling so far. Luckily one of them was Japanese, so we had a translator with us. This isn’t a travel blog, so I’ll just say that Japan itself was an exciting place to visit, delicious meals, stunning scenery, oozing history and culture and so on. I’d like to go again one day without being a cult member. That skewed my view of the whole thing.

We were attending the Autumn Grand Ceremony at Suza that year, so there were thousands of kumite from all over the world there. It is an odd place. It’s supposed to unify all the world’s religions.

There are tiled Islamic prayer towers, a sort of ancient Incan fountain, Stars of David, Buddhist symbols, stained glass … think of a religion, they’ve used their icons. Cultural appropriation gone wild.

We made new friends, from New Zealand, America, Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, all over the place. We commiserated with our new friends who had family who objected to their involvement. We were brothers and sisters in solidarity. Buses brought in droves of us. We were organised and corralled into groups, climbing the millions of steps as a group. Row upon row of Mahikari Tai (the youth group) in their uniforms (you can see a tiny portion of them in the photo below).

Thousands of people in the massive ceremony hall, chanting in unison. It was intense. Mostly thousands of Japanese, but we gaijin got special seating near the front. The stage has a massive fish tank filled with carp underneath it. To symbolise the ‘horizontal water aspect’ of the Mahikari cross (blue horizontal line). The golden altar on the stage represents the red vertical ‘fire’ aspect. There are pine trees growing next to the altar. On the stage. Yep … not even joking.

Photo by David B, TripAdvisor, May 2017

Okada, the founder dude, decided that God had given him a covenant to build the Main World Shrine. Cos the Jewish people had fumbled on that duty. According to Okada’s version of the Bible, anyway (this is never actually mentioned anywhere in the actual Bible, and kumite took him at his word, which was the word of God, right? So no need to check).

Okada explained that the ongoing persecution of the Jewish peoples was the consequences of them dropping the ball when it came to building a shrine. Nice to have it all explained, huh? This was also the leverage for pushing members from earlier times to donate as much money as they could to get this shrine built. And to keep making donations to complete the full construction plan and pay for maintenance and improvements. It needed a lot money. Probably still does, I'm betting.

This is what Okada himself had to say:

So, I have something that I want to ask of you. I have been given the divine command to build Suza. I have made a covenant with God. And because I have made that covenant, I must, no matter what happens, fulfil it.
Daiseishu — 1993 English version p218-219 (Japanese version 1983)

By 'I must' he means 'you suckers must', of course.

It was a “covenent”, guys. Based on lies. Okada’s version of the Bible was, let’s just be charitable here, incorrect, self-serving and fucking wrong.

Basically, if we, the members, didn’t make Suza, the Main World Shrine, a reality, and keep it running, we were all going to be damned forever, and our (imaginary) ability to give (imaginary) ’True Light’ would be taken away as (less imaginary) punishment. So we all donated, and donated, and donated. And then donated some more. That bit wasn’t imaginary.

The most wonderful thing happened, though, in 1974. Okada died. And there was a fight over the leadership of the group, and his organisation split into two groups. Splitters! And both of them built a Main World Shrine. Both of them enshrined the Creator God. Both of them built their shrines in the ‘most spiritually significant place’ indicated by Okada. (Surprise! The plural in this blog post title is not a typo!)

So. The group Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan, known as SMBK or the World Divine Light Organization (which was Okada’s original group), established their Suza at Amagi, Izu (Shizuoka, Japan). It was inaugurated on 23 August 1987 But the new faction’s Sukyo Mahikari Suza in Takayama was inaugurated on 3 November 1984, beating its rival by nearly three years. Good going, guys. Winning.

There’s not much recent chatter about these places online (or about Mahikari in general). (Come on other ex-members. We need to keep the conversation going! I know you're out there.)

Here’s what I could find:

This blog post has some photos of the exterior of the shrine

There’s TripAdvisor reviews here too

A lot of the positive reviews are written by cult members, so take those with a teaspoon of salt (both of which will make you throw up, by the way). Here’s some choice quotes from the more candid ones:

Disney meets a new world cult

Well the temple is bonkers. I was going to describe it as Alice in Wonderland meets the Scientologists but felt that was a little unfair as I had never been to a cult temple before!

Very confusing

… the whole experience was low-key terrifying and confusing. The use of swastikas, the star of David, a fish tank, and military uniforms meant that it was very memorable.

A bit unnerving!

We were told by our guide that we must not reveal our true identities or leave email addresses here … I personally was totally unprepared for what greeted us on arrival and have to say I found the whole experience somewhat sinister and unnerving.

It's free and looked interesting from the view of it from Hida no Sato (Folk Village)

Personally … it seems to me these guys are the Scientologists/Later Day Saints of Japan.

(By the way, the Folk Village is brilliant. Do recommend.)

If you want to read more about these dramas in detail, check out the full blog post on Mahikari Exposed over here and Building the Main World Shrine — using the Bible. They cover the revelations about why the Jewish people have been persecuted through the ages (you always wanted to know, didn’t you?) and how Mahikari has now saved us all by doing the Jewish peoples' job for them, and building this temple for the world.

Thanks a lot, you crazy Main World Shrine building people. It’s just great. Really great. No, really.

(Unless otherwise noted, the photos were supplied to us by an ex-member.)

#Suza #Mahikari #MainWorldShrine #Okada

These are just 20 of the weird shit things that Mahikari members often believe and do. Not all of these are official teachings, but most are, and most of the group does these, so if you want to be a part of team, you do them too.

I am not making these up.


  1. Very cold and frozen foods will solidify the toxins in your body, so you should avoid them (actual teaching). This includes ice cream.

  2. Microwaves destroy the spiritual aspect of food, so you should avoid them. You can’t offer microwaved food to your ancestors.

  3. If you leave the cult, you or your loved ones will suffer all manner of various accidents, illnesses, including just plain old dying. Classic cult manipulation by fear.

  4. As a mark of respect, it’s good to iron your dollars when offering them as a donation to God. Doesn't work with plastic-based notes though! Also, it's rude to offer coins. Notes are so much more polite.

  5. Charities are only delaying your negative karmic 'payback'. If a charity helps ease your suffering, you're no longer erasing negative karma for yourself and your family. Well fuck. So they don’t support charities.

  6. Is is better if women wear skirts and dresses, which isn’t official teaching, but certainly the female Doshis (priests) have this enforced. They aren’t allowed to wear sleeveless tops, or to show their underarms. Black isn’t a suitable colour for women to wear, either. Female Doshis' hair should be cut short, or tied back in a ponytail.

  7. As you get more purified and spiritually elevated, you won’t need much sleep. Maybe three or four hours a night? If you need more ... well, you’re not very elevated, are you?

  8. If you’re serious, you’d only take holidays with a Mahikari focus, or spend your holiday time offering divine service. Ceaseless efforts, bitches!

  9. You have to pay a monthly “spiritual line maintenance donation” to keep your connection with God going. Yes, a monthly subscription to God. He'll cut you off otherwise!

  10. Attaching spirits can make you think, hear and see anything. So they can make you see a green traffic light, when the light is actually red, for example, and cause a bad car accident.

  11. Homosexuality is seen as spirit disturbance 😡

  12. You have to wash your ‘top’ clothes (things worn above the waist, which have your omitama pocket in it) have to be washed separately from ‘bottoms’ (underwear, socks, pants etc).

  13. Offering cigarettes to ancestors. Unlit. But still ... 🤢

  14. Don’t point your feet or sit with your back towards the ancestor’s altar, or the holy altar. So rude!

  15. Vaccinations and medications are poison. Of course 🙄. More on this over here.

  16. Cars and plants and machines and food and everything has a spiritual aspect, and you should talk to them, and purify them with True Light.

  17. Don't put your hands flat on the floor when you're in the process of giving 'True Light' as this is impure.

  18. Purify your groceries for at least 20 minutes with 'True Light', before putting them away, also chanting the dodgy af 'Ancient Japanese prayer' the whole time.

  19. Keep all your Mahikari books, notebooks, journals and such in a special place, and don't let them touch the floor (man, they love those purity rituals).

  20. They love numerology. The same day as the number of the month was a major deal. 1 January, 2 February, 3 March, and so on. If you were going to have a really shit day, it would be one of these days.

#Mahikari #purity #rituals #weirdshit

Spirits and ancestors are a big deal in Mahikari. Spirits attach to your body, and cause diseases or other ailments. But that’s another blog post.

What I want to talk about today is the obsession with a special sort of spirits — your ancestors. In Shinto tradition, ancestors are revered. A great deal of Mahikari is based on Shinto.


In Mahikari, if you’re really devout, you have an ancestor’s altar, and then a second one for your maiden line, so both parts of your family are covered and you have twice as much to do.

The altar sits on a high shelf in your living room, usually. There are all kinds of rules about where in the house it's allowed to be located. Can't have any beds with their feet pointing towards it, for instance.

The alter contains name tablets. There’s a main one for all ancestors who died more than 30 years ago. Those who have died more recently get their own name tablet, inscribed with a new name, to help them give up attachment to their past life. There should always be a tiny vase with some scented flowers in it, too. There is also a Japanese-style bell.


Ancestors require constant attention. Their altar has to be opened every morning, the light turned on, with a good morning greeting. If you go out, you need to tell them. And tell them when you’re back home too. Introduce them to any visitors to the house. Inform them of any major events. Close it at night, turning off its light, and wishing your ancestors a pleasant evening. So civilised.

And they need dinner every day. They have a tiny set of dishes, glasses and cutlery, all bought new (second-hand is not acceptable, not pure enough). These are all put on a small tray. Mahikari members are forever seeking out cute tiny crockery and cutlery. Liqueur glasses are popular as wine glasses. Miniature cutlery sets are the best. All sorts of tiny things, like this ...



For dinner, they should be served a small part of your meal, and the best part of it, too. Don't forget the wine. And don't cook anything with a microwave oven, because that destroys the spiritual aspect of the food, which, after all, is what your ancestors are 'eating'. And they should be served before you eat. The bell is struck to get the ancestors’ attention, to call them for dinner.

When cleaning up after dinner, don't use your usual dishwashing things, either. Special washing up cloths for the special ancestors' crockery and cutlery 🙄

Their altar also needs to be cleaned regularly. With special purified altar cleaning cloths (Mahikari has a lot of purity rituals!). And they need to have Mahikari prayers and teachings read to them regularly. Don't ever sit with your feet pointing towards the altar, either. So rude.

Ancestors send warnings too. If you get headaches, or head injuries, or eye problems, or anything like that, it’s your ancestors telling you to ‘look up’ and pay heed to them. Aren’t you glad you know that now? Feeling guilty yet?

Looking after an ancestors altar or two is a shitload of work, and keeps you very involved in daily ‘cult tasks’, all the time. I still get nightmares about the fucking thing. But maybe that’s my just my poor imaginary ancestor spirits having a bit of a grizzle about my neglect?

Aaaw, diddums.

Quite a responsibility, really. I'd rather have a dog.

#Mahikari #cult #ancestors #rituals #warnings #karma

So, what's Mahikari's True Light, okiyome, crap all about? It is supposedly coming directly to you from God Itself. Channeled through your omitama to your hand. Bypassing your filthy soul.

The Mahikari people (kamikumite, or kumite for short) spout off about it being a purifying energy, something that can dissolve toxins from your body, your cat, your garden, your food, your school, your home, the road, and even your car. Because it's so fucking great and miraculous, you need to do it a lot. A LOT. Like, every day. A lot.

If you're really devoted proper like, you're supposed to give and receive at least a basic session of okiyome every day. So you need at least one willing victim, I mean, subject. And you ideally need to hook up (not in a fun sexy way) with another kumite who can give you a session of okiyome too.

A ‘basic session’ of okiyome takes 30 minutes. It starts with both of you bowing and clapping and saying prayers. If you're hard core, you'll both be kneeling on the ground, on thin mats. Otherwise, on chairs facing each other.

Then the subject closes their eyes and puts their hands together. The kumite then recites a really long prayer in invented ‘ancient Japanese’ rubbish. It takes over a minute to recite. They say it’s in an incredibly ancient language, which is why modern Japanese people can’t understand the mystical sounds and meaning. Uh huh. Or maybe it’s just cos you MADE IT UP. The Divine World Prayer, or Amatsu Norigoto. I can still recite huge chunks of it, cos memorising this bullshit was one of the first tasks you had to do if you wanted to join. And I chanted at least once a day, if not more often (more was always better!) for over a decade! Wish I could get it the fuck out of my head. Here’s an explanation of sorts.

Once the prayer is over, the session starts with radiating this mysterious non-existent energy towards the subject's ‘main soul’ (third eye, forehead etc), for ten minutes. During this time the subject has to keep their eyes closed, and the kumite has to visualise a stream of golden light, streaming from their hand through the person’s head, focussed on a spot in the middle of the skull. All sorts of imagining of love, and grace, and positive intent too.

Photo of someone receiving Light

At the end of ten minutes, the kumite does a rather dramatic gesture. The big thing when you’re giving okiyome to the soul spirit is that the attaching spirits (THAT’S a whole ‘nother blog post) on the recipient are also receiving Light at the same time, and they might be getting upset, or sad, or chucking a tantrum, or feeling angry or generally trying to affect the recipient and their mind more than usual. So you have to get these spirits to calm the fuck down! This is achieved by the giver sweeping both hands in an upside down V shape from the recipient’s head, to the ground, three times, and saying ‘Oshizumari!’ very loudly with each sweep. THAT’LL DO IT, LADS!

After this, the person turns around, and they get Light radiated to the back of their neck, in two spots on each side of the neck. To help with blood flow to the brain. APPARENTLY. And then they get to lie down, the best part, and receive Light on their kidneys. Nice time to drift off for a bit of a nap. That’s a basic session.

If you’re going for a full session, you can receive an extra 20 minutes of Light to other parts, so if you have a rash, you’d get extra Light there, or whatevs. There were whole classes on where to give Light to for all sorts of different conditions. All of it ridiculous, of course. There has been some attempt by the organisation to remove itself from initial claims about being able to cure things, and they now use 'spiritual purification' instead. Too many lawsuits, hmmm? 🤔

I just realised why I hate wearing watches now ... we always had to wear a watch, to time our sessions. Huh.

#Mahikari #okiyome #TrueLight #purity #purification #prayer #AmatsuNorigoto #light

I’ve been thinking of writing about Mahikari for some time now. I was in Mahikari for just over a decade, and got out many years ago. I’m surprised at the recent lack of public discussion or revelation about this group. Are ex-members too scared to say anything? You can write your experiences anonymously in many places, like here … telling people your story helps to educate and protect. It helps other ex-members to understand what they went through. It helps people avoid joining up in the first place. While it is classified by scholars as a ‘Japanese New Religion’, it is in reality a religious cult, and a damaging one at that.

I joined Mahikari when I was really young, only 19. I had some chronic health problems, and a very friendly neighbour a few doors down the street introduced me. He was so nice. Sucked me right in 🤦🏻‍♀️

Mahikari practices ‘spiritual purification’, where ‘Divine Light’ (okiyome or True Light) is ‘radiated’ from the palm of the hand. I became convinced that this Light could cure my health problems (spoiler alert, it couldn’t). True Light is supposed to heal all kinds of conditions, and it could also be radiated at your groceries to purify them of the ubiquitous ‘toxins’, and purify accident sites (to release the suffering earth-bound spirits), and could even make radioactivity poisoning an environment disappear! MAGIC. Fucking magic 🙄

To radiate True Light, the Mahikari member (kumite) has to wear their special Divine Pendant (omitama) around their neck. They are told that this pendant is more precious than their own life. This does a bit of a number on you.

The pendant must never touch the ground, a bed, or a seat, get wet, be put on back-to-front, or touch your body below the waist (pure body is above the waist, impure body is below the waist, where all that sex and poop and yucky things happen, and feet touching the dirty ground. Dirty dirty dirty.). The omitama has to be kept wrapped up in multiple layers (plastic, cloth etc), and pinned into a pocket in your bra or singlet. Members often had nightmares about their omitama getting wet, or broken, or damaged, or dropping onto a bed, or some other 'omitama accident'.

If, horror of horrors, an omitama accident actually happened, it was a reflection on the state of your soul, and a negative reflection at that. A warning. Although sometimes in unusual situations it could be deemed a sacrifice, sacrificing your omitama in place of your LIFE — so maybe if it got wet while you were in the process of nearly drowning, the Mahikari staff would say it had been sacrificed in place of your life. Not so much shame associated in that case.

But usually it was a warning. Because we all had a lot of negative karma. It was time to reflect on your sins. It would have to be sent away to be specially re-purified. You had to make special donations, of grovelling apology and significant funds. The other members would whisper about you. It was all quite humiliating.

I actually never had an omitama accident, yeah bitches, that's how 'pure' I was (what a fucking joke). But even now I still get the occasional 'omitama accident nightmare', and I haven't had one of the bloody things in my house, let alone strangling me around my neck, for years.

More to come. I need to get this shit out of my head.

#Mahikari #cult #omitama #pendant #warning #purity #rituals #JapaneseNewReligion