Ascetic monk

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"Ascetic monk" is an English gloss of "shugenja" (kanji: 修験者・修驗者 hiragana: しゅげんじゃ) in Tenrikyo literature, most notably the opening chapter of The Life of Oyasama.[1] The "yamabushi monks" that appear in a subsequent chapter refer to practitioners belonging to the same religious tradition.[2]


"Here, this term refers to a practitioner of Shugendo, which was a form of mountain worship indigenous to Japan. These ascetic monks, known as shugenja or yamabushi, practiced austerities in the mountains and sought either to invoke or exorcise spirits by performing incantations, which required the lighting of purifying fires and the chanting of magic formulas."[3]
"Shugenja, or yamabushi, were practitioners of Shugendo, a religion created from the incorporation of Buddhism with the mountain beliefs of ancient Japan."[4]
"Shugenja: a practitioner of Shugendo, a syncretic religion that blended Buddhism and the traditional mountain beliefs of ancient Japan. Shugenja are purported to acquire powers by worshiping and training in the mountains, which they would use to conduct rites known as kaji-kito (incantations). Also called yamabushi."[5]

Further reading

  • Miyake Hitoshi. 1993. "Religious Rituals in Shugendō: A Summary." In Religion and Society in Modern Japan: Selected Readings. Edited by Mullins, Mark R., Shimazono Susumu, and Swanson, Paul L. Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, Nanzan Studies in Asian Religions.

External links


  1. The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo — Manuscript Edition, third edition. Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, p. 1. (online version)
  2. The Life of Oyasama, p. 54. (online version)
  3. Reference Materials for The Life of Oyasama, Tenrikyo Overseas Department 2000, p. 2.
  4. Translation of excerpt from 『ひながた紀行』 Hinagata kiko, 天理教道友社 Tenrikyo Doyusha, ed. p. 42.
  5. Translation of excerpt from 矢持辰三 Yamochi Tatsuzo. 『稿本天理教教祖伝入門十講』 Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den nyumon jikko, p. 13.