Oh! ‘The Rain Retreat’. Yeah, I haven’t done one of those but I’ve helped others who were.
It’s … hmmm … not sure how to say this.
It reminded me of Sweat Lodges - you do it not for yourself but for others.
With the Rains Retreat you can do it for all the normal ‘ascetics’ reasons, but in the Japanese version you’re doing it for those who can’t. You’re not walking for yourself - you’re walking for those who can’t walk. You’re not meditating for yourself - you’re meditating for those who aren’t. It’s a service that monks do for the rest of the world to make it ok for the rest of us to be farmers, to be engineers, to cook food for others, to be exterminators and dentists.
I don’t know very much about the actual “Khao Phansa” - the real thing - but there is kind of a Japanese version that includes a lot of burning ‘the 108 defilements’, meditating on the 108 vital points, all on a community scale where there’s a big bonfire where the defilements are purged.
But, with Shinto, it’s a drinking religion, so feasts and wine for the Kami and the Oni alike, but only after hours and hours of work and meditation and listing and purging defilements and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning some more.
So - it might be that in practice it ends up being very similar, where the entire day is spent in labor to clean the world of sin, and then as the sun is setting the food and drink come out, and the whole world is free to … as they say … rack up a bunch of new sins with a clean soul.