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Shugendō practitioners (Shugenja) in the mountains of Kumano, Mie
Shugenja model in the Shugendō-Museum of the Shippōryū-ji-Temple (Osaka prefecture)
Ascetic waterfall exercise supervised by a monk (Shippōryū-ji Temple)

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][3]

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.[4]

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 (2000). "16: Initiation in the Shugendō: the Passage Through the Ten States of Existence". Collected Writings of Carmen Blacker. Richmond, Surrey: Japan Library. pp. 186–199. ISBN 9781873410929. 
  4. ^ 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]

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