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Shugendō practitioners in the mountains of Kumano, Mie

Shugendō (修験道) is a highly syncretic religion that originated in Heian Japan.


Shugendō evolved during the 7th century from an amalgamation of beliefs, philosophies, doctrines and ritual systems drawn from local folk-religious practices, pre-Buddhist mountain worship, Shinto, Taoism and esoteric Buddhism.[1]

The 7th 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."[2]

In modern times, Shugendō is practiced mainly through Tendai and Shingon temples.[citation needed] Some temples include Kimpusen-ji in Yoshino (Tendai), Ideha Shrine in the Three Mountains of Dewa and Daigo-ji in Kyoto (Shingon).[citation needed]

Shugendō practitioners are said to be descendants of the Kōya Hijiri monks of the eighth and ninth centuries.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kornicki, P.F.; McMullen, I. J. (1996). Religion in Japan: Arrows to Heaven and Earth (Reprint ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 13–. ISBN 9780521550284. Retrieved 11 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Picken, Stuart D.B. (1994). Essentials of Shinto: An Analytical Guide to Principal Teachings. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 99. ISBN 0313264317. 
  3. ^ Blacker, Carmen (1999). The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan (3rd ed.). Richmond: Japan Library. pp. 165–167. ISBN 1873410859. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Faure, Bernard, D. Max Moerman, & Gaynor Sekimori, eds. Shugendō: The History and Culture of a Japanese Religion. Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, vol. 18, 2012. ISBN 978-2-8553-9123-6.
  • Gill, Andrea K. (2012). “Shugendō: Pilgrimage and Ritual in a Japanese Folk Religion”, Pursuit – The Journal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee 3/2 (2012): 49–65.
  • Miyake, Hitoshi. The Mandala of the Mountain: Shugendō and Folk Religion. Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2005. ISBN 978-4-7664-1128-7.
  • Miyake Hitoshi, “Religious rituals in Shugendo: A summary”, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 16 (2–3) (1989): 101–116. PDF

External links[edit]