Shugendō (修験道, literally "the way of shugen, or gen-practice") is a highly syncretic religion that originated in Heian Japan. Practitioners are called Shugenja (修験者) or Yamabushi (山伏, literally "mountain prostrate").
Shugendō evolved during the seventh century from an amalgamation of beliefs, philosophies, doctrines and ritual systems drawn from local folk-religious practices, pre-Buddhist mountain worship, Shinto, Taoism and Vajrayana.
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
- Shugen: The Autumn Peak of Haguro Shugendo
- Mount Fuji and Shugendo
- Shugendo article in Buddhism & Shintoism in Japan
- Yamabushi practice training | Dewa Sanzan
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