What is a Yamabushi? The ancient mountain dwellers of Japan

What are yamabushi?

For those who need an introduction to who I am, or want to know how to become a Yamabushi, watch this video:

How I became a yamabushi

What is Shugendo?

The entrance to Daishobo pilgrim lodge on Mt. Haguro run by Master Hoshino

Why Do Yamabushi Train on Mountains?

Watch this video to find out why Japanese people can be Shinto and Buddhist at the same time

Are there Yamabushi all over Japan? How did Shugendo develop?

Massha Shrines at the top of Mt. Haguro

How many types of yamabushi are there?

So, Yamabushi sprung up all over Japan, and often they practiced Shugendo under the guise of Tendai and Shingon Buddhism, the two esoteric Buddhism sects of Japan founded by the monks Saicho and Kukai respectively, as these two sects were seen to closely follow the beliefs of Shugendo.

The Buddhist Haguro Shugen Yamabushi on Dewa Sanzan

Tachiyazawa Basin on the eastern side of Mt. Haguro

Becoming a Certified Dewa Sanzan Yamabushi

Getting ready for the Akinomine Autumn’s Peak Ritual. I’m wearing my Shiroshozoku (white yamabushi garments) and have a Suri (blue and white checkered overcoat, Kaino (orange belt-like thing that literally means ‘rope used to tie conchs’, and blue Kyahan shin guards

Are there full-time yamabushi?

Traditional Shojin Ryori Ascetic Cuisine of Daishobo pilgrim lodge. This is what we eat *after* yamabushi training

Satoyama Yamabushi: Those from outside the region

Blowing my Horagai Conch during the Akinomine Autumn’s Peak Ritual (you can tell because I’m wearing a Suri, blue and white checkered overcoat thing)

Shukubo Pilgrim Lodge and other Yamabushi Trainings on Dewa Sanzan

Mt. Haguro’s Five Story Pagoda

My Experience Doing Yamabushi Training

A Jizo statue on Mt. Haguro

What does Yamabushi training involve?

Mt. Haguro’s Five Story Pagoda during early winter

Half-sacred, half-secular: Hansei Hanzoku

Mt. Haguro during early winter

Yamabushi in conclusion

Thanks for reading this far. I intend to add to this page in the future, including about the tools that we use while training, and the big differences between Dewa Sanzan yamabushi, and the Shinto and Buddhist yamabushi. Please do get in touch if you have any questions! Meanwhile, there are some yamabushi-related blog posts on my site for you.

About the author

Tim Bunting — Kiwi Yamabushi, Official Dewa Sanzan Yamabushi Name: Ryosen (Spreader of the true essence)

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