My 92-year-old (Japanese) father, who grew up in Akita Prefecture, has started writing down little snippets of a family history, based in part on stories told to him by his father and grandfather. One rather garbled episode that supposedly happened in the late 1700s is that a strange monk showed up at the family compound one day and began living there; the family provided him with food, and out of gratitude, he built a beautiful Japanese garden (my father still remembers eating red berries of some sort from this garden). Then at some point, he dug himself a grave, got into it, covered himself up, and died (...I think??).
I'm wondering if this was a known practice, common trope, etc, in Japanese Buddhism? If so, I would be grateful for any citations that might discuss it.
Reiko Ohnuma (Dartmouth College)