Shugendō (修験道, lit. the "Way [of] Trial [&] Practice", the "Way of Shugen, or Gen-practice") is a highly-syncretic religion, a body of ascetic practices that originated in Heian-era Japan, having evolved during the 7th century from an amalgamation of beliefs, philosophies, doctrines and ritual systems drawn from local folk-religious practices, Taoist and Shinto practices. Practitioners are called Shugenja (修験者), Sōhei (僧兵, literally "[Buddhist] Monk Warrior"), or Yamabushi (山伏, literally "Mountain Prostrator").
Shugendō evolved during the seventh century from an amalgamation of beliefs, philosophies, doctrines and ritual systems drawn from local folk-religious and Shinto practices.
The seventh-century ascetic and mystic En no Gyōja is widely considered as the patriarch of Shugendō, having first organized Shugendō as a doctrine. Shugendō literally means "the path of training and testing" or "the way to spiritual power through discipline."
The Meiji government, which erected a barrier between Shinto and Buddhism, ruled that Shugendō was unacceptable because of its amalgamation of the two religions, and officially forbade it in 1872. With the advent of religious freedom in Japan after World War II, Shugendō was revived.
In modern times, Shugendō is practiced mainly through Tendai and Shingon temples. Some temples include Kimpusen-ji in Yoshino (Tendai), Ideha Shrine in the Three Mountains of Dewa and Daigo-ji in Kyoto (Shingon).
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- A Look at Japanese Ascetic Practice
- Head Temple Takao-san Yakuo-in Central Shugendo Training Center in Kanto
- International Shugendo Association the overseas outreach of Koryu Shugen Honshu, the Mt. Koshikidake tradition of Shugendo
- Shugen: The Autumn Peak of Haguro Shugendo
- Mount Fuji and Shugendo
- Shugendo article in Buddhism & Shintoism in Japan: A-to-Z Photo Dictionary of Japanese Religious Sculpture & Art
- Shugendo - History of Japan Database