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Yamabushi (山伏, one who prostrates himself on the mountain) are Japanese mountain ascetic hermits.[1] They are generally part of the syncretic shugendō religion, which includes Tantric Buddhist, Shinto, and Japanese Taoist elements.[2]

Their origins can be traced back to the solitary Yama-bito and some hijiri () (saints or holy persons) of the eighth and ninth centuries.[3]

According to author Frederik L. Schodt:

These positively medieval-looking nature worshipers carry metal staves and conch shells and wear straw sandals and sometimes a hemp cloth over-robe with the Heart Sutra written on it. They follow a mixture of esoteric or tantric Buddhism mixed with Shinto, the native animistic religion of Japan.[4]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ratti, Oscar; Westbrook, Adele (1999). Secrets of the Samurai: A Survey of the Martial Arts of Feudal Japan. Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books. ISBN 0785810730.
  • Powell, Steve John; Cabello, Angeles Marin (May 12, 2021). "Japan's Mountain Ascetic Hermits". British Broadcasting Corporation.


  1. ^ Nelson, Andrew Nathaniel (1995). The Original Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary (Classic ed.). Rutland, Vermont: C. E. Tuttle Co. pp. 134, 346. ISBN 9780804819657.
  2. ^ "Exoteric Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, and Shugendo - 顕教・密教・修験道". www.tendai-jimon.jp. Tendaijimon Sect. Archived from the original on 2020-12-21. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  3. ^ Blacker, Carmen (1999). The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan (3rd ed.). Richmond, Virginia: Japan Library. pp. 165–167. ISBN 1873410859.
  4. ^ Schodt, Frederik L. (2020). My Heart Sutra. Berkeley (Ca): Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-61172-062-4.