Takigyo: Shizenha Bio-Hacking

Takigyo is to be under a waterfall as part of spiritual training done by Shugendo practitioners. I had an opportunity to try one as part of the village ritual about 10 years ago. Yes, I used to live in a village called Kumano in Hino Town, and it had its root in Shugendo and many practitioners did Takigyo at Kumano Waterfall near the village. There are no Shugendo practitioners left today but every September there is the Waterfall festival and the keeper of the Kumano shrine conducts Takigyo, and he let me join the ritual.


God, it was hard. It was freezing cold and the water pressure was very strong. I was under the fall for about 1 minute, but it felt like forever, and I was so relieved when I got out of the fall. The shrine keeper, the man standing, told me that they used to do it for about 1 hour and they even did it in wintertime.

My goodness, it was already cold in September, what would happen if I did it in winter?

I would never do it in winter, but doing it for about 1 minute in summer could be good for longevity. It can work as hormesis. Hormesis is a small poison that can benefit us, and the reason why intermittent fasting or HIIT work is that they have this function. David Sinclair also says having a sauna or being cold have the same effect.

It was hard but if you do it many times you get used to it, and it will be a great bio-hack.

You don’t have to come all the way to Japan to do Takigyo, if you have a small waterfall nearby, you can try it. Yes, a small waterfall is safer, the one you have in a river you can swim. Swimming in a river itself is good if the water is cold.

I remember swimming in the River Dart in Devon and it was cold. I even swam at upstream in Dart Moor, and there was a small waterfall.

Swimming for about 5 minutes, and rest in the sun for 5 minutes. Doing this sequence several times create a good pain and recovery process.

Want to know about the pain and recovery process? watch this.


You know what? There is an even simpler and easier thing you can do. You can do it at home.

Yes, taking a shower.

That is recommended by Dave Asprey, too.

Recently I always take a cold shower when I take shower. Well, partly because it is summer, too. With a shower, you need to be under water longer than a minute because water isn’t that cold and the pressure isn’t strong at all. To make it similar to Takigyo, you need to stay in the shower for at least 2 minutes. Make sure you wash your hair, too. Putting your face and head under cold water wakes you up and you feel the buzz. You feel as if it is activating autophagy and stimulating sirtuins.

The alternative is to have a cold bath. This is even better because you don’t waste water.

Nevertheless, nothing can beat the natural process. If you can, go out in nature and do a real Takigyo or river swimming. It has the same effect as Shinrinyoku, too.



If you want to know more about Shugendo, read this.

Ninja-Yamabushi Connection

The Ikigai Diet: The Secret Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity

POD Paperback