AUM Shinrikyo, the doomsday cult that lethally gassed the Tokyo subway system, has made millions of yen charging people for religious leaders to pat their heads, the Mainichi learned Sunday.
AUM leaders admit charging 1.5 million yen for cult figurehead Fumihiro Joyu to tap followers on the head for five minutes in a ceremony it calls "Shakty Pat."
AUM followers claim Shakty Pat sends a sacred energy through believers' bodies.
AUM, declared bankrupt in the wake of the 1995 subway gassing, picked up at least 100 million yen by reviving the practice. About 70 people are believed to have paid the enormous sum to undergo Shakty Pat this year.
"It's a fact that we did carry out Shakty Pat during a seminar," Hiroshi Araki, the cult's spokesman said. "It has made an enormous contribution to the cult in the past and some people made considerable donations. We haven't since sought any other donations."
AUM stopped charging followers for Shakty Pat in the wake of the mid-'90s crimes members of the cult committed. However, public safety officials believe they have begun the practice anew to gather funds to strengthen the cult for Joyu. Joyu is the effective leader of the cult as its guru, Shoko Asahara, remains in detention while standing trial on 17 counts of murder.