What is Yamabushido Training?
Yamabushido is a collection of training programs in the way of Shugendo, one of Japan's most ancient and transformative practices.
Our programs consist of authentic Yamabushi training, under the direction of a 13th generation Yamabushi master. And the programs are held on Japans most sacred mountains, in Yamagata province, four hours from Tokyo. It's a training which you will take back into your lives with a renewed sense of your power, a new understanding of your potential, and a new ability to cut through obstacles that might be in your path through a non-verbal experience.
You'll gain the ability to disconnect yourself from distractions, from the chatter inside your head, from noise and stress. You'll have a powerful opportunity to begin again, by letting go of anything in your life that needs to be left in the mountain. And to begin again as a fresh, empowered version of yourself, armed with resilience, strength, and a fearless smile.
These programs are specially arranged for international visitors, but based on a program which has been operating for many years only for Japanese people. For the first time, it is now available to a wider audience. The Shugendo Way is not for everyone, nor is the path of the Yamabushi, it is one of Japan's most ancient and esoteric traditions. It is demanding. But if you would like to be part of it, we invite you to get in touch.
Shugendo is an ancient belief, with its origins in 8th Century Japan. It is a fusion of Shinto, Buddhism, Animism and mountain faith. Shugendo has always been a path for those who want to strip away the excesses of the world, and who want to understand themselves better by immersing themselves in power and strength of the natural world.
The Yamabushi are the ancient mountain priest of Japan. Their traditional role was to help guide people to their true nature, and to teach discipline and warrior ways. And although they are mostly hidden from public life these days, and their numbers are few, the work they do has not changed. What they offer to the world is more relevant than ever.
Our Two Programs
Our programs are open to all gender.
Basic instructions in English will be given by the support guide throughout the training, and basic English support will be offered. As an experiential program, there are not too many things to explain. Shugendo is something to experience directly, and much of the program is conducted in silence.
For visitors who speak Japanese, they can also enroll in theJapanese-onlyversion if they prefer.
What you will do
You will experience traditional Yamabushi activities including;
- Hiking in the sacred Mount Dewa area
- Zazen meditation
- Reciting mantras
- Prayers for peace and well-being
- Waterfall meditation
- Night walking
- Jumping over fire
- Visiting sacred shrines (some not open to the general public)
- Accommodation in a traditional Shugendo pilgrim lodge
And some other activities which - although not secret - are part of a Shugendo tradition of not being fully explained to those who are not initiated.
At the heart of the Yamabushi practice is the concept of UKETAMŌ. Uketamō means "I accept with open heart", and through this idea we drop the idea of expectation, and of thinking in a typical way, and experience something more powerful, the ability to live without knowing what might happen next, the ability to improvise. And the ability not to worry, to just enjoy the experience of this moment.
All Yamabushido Programs are supervised by Master Hoshino, a famous local Yamabushi priest, and the 13th generation of his family to follow this vocation. Master Hoshino lives in and runs Daishōbō, a pilgrim lodge located at the foot of Mt. Haguro.
He has dedicated his life to living as a Yamabushi, introducing many people from all over the world to its mystical power.
His approach to the Yamabushi tradition is grounded in deep tradition, but also made deeply relevant to the way we live our lives today.
Daishōbō Pilgrim Lodge
The Daishōbō pilgrim's lodge is an important Shugendo location. Such pilgrim lodges until recently were reserved for Shugendo initiates, but with our training the doors are open to you too.
Daishōbō is renowned for its excellent traditional vegetarian meals. It is also a place of Buddhist and Shinto worship, including meditation, incantation and distribution of talismans of protection. Daishōbō, one of the certificated SANGE community, a pilgrim lodge, has been providing Yamabushi training for more than 20 years, based on the Shugendo.
Shonai region in Yamagata
One of the most secluded regions in Japan
Yamagata Shonai Region has prospered as a historical, cultural area, which has three distinct cultures; Jokamachi, the area surrounding the castle walls; Sangakushinko, the mountain ascetic culture and Minatomachi, the culture of sea port area.
Due to these three distinct cultures, it enabled the area to develop a wide diversity and tolerance for cultural differences.
Holy mountains in Shonai
Dewa Sanzan is a sacred mountain range in northeastern Japan consisting of Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan, and Mt. Yudono. It is renowned for its biodiversity, mystical scenery, and rituals of spiritual rebirth. Traditionally and among select groups today, Dewa Sanzan is a unique hub of animistic Shinto and Buddhist fusion, where different forms of Japanese spirituality blend into one.
Mt. Haguro was founded over 2,000 years ago as one of the three Sacred Mountains. It is the beginning of Dewa Mountains Belief, and Shugendo in Shonai itself has more than 600 years' history. Shintoism and Buddhism had been suffered by the government SEGREGATION of Ideology during the beginning of the Meiji Era, and many Buddhism statues and elements had been abandoned, however, they have survived in the Three Mountains and both Shintoism and Buddhism are alive there.
Another Local Training Place in Shonai, Founded by Ascetic Shugendo Priest 1,400 years ago. This place used to be very popular among people of this area, as the Kinbō Shugyo Point.
The Kinbō shrine, which was built on top of Mt. Kinbō was even a Sacred Spot for the Lords of Shonai in 17th century. It has gone out of use for the Practice, however, the historical value and the unique attractiveness has been rediscovered by the local young generation. It is now becoming a new hot spot in Shonai.
Galapagos Island in Japan
Shonai Region is like the Galapagos Island in that it has been very isolated from the rest of the country.
During the Edo Era, the Shonai Region supported the Bakufu (Tokugawa government) side against the new government. This caused the Shonai Region to develop industrialization at a much slower rate.
The people of Shonai prided themselves in their Traditional skills which they preferred over the modern industrialization that the rest of the country so eagerly embraced.
Those traditional skills are maintained even today.
Another way in which the Shonai Region is a sort of Galapagos Island in Japan, is how it is always isolated from the other main areas of Japan.
Once snow falls, all the ways that lead to Shonai had been closed. So, unique in that its isolation has allowed the people to continue the traditional arts in their original form without turning to mass productions and mass consumptions of the Industrial Age.
In that way, Shonai area developed a greater tolerance for the cultural diversity found in the Shonai Region.
UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy
This enabled Tsuruoka City to be designated as a Creative City of Gastronomy Contrarily, other areas of Japan had been modernized in the global economy and lost their uniqueness, thus creating many gaps between the rich big cities and small local towns.
How we run Yamabushido
The cost of our services includes the cost of maintaining the precious local culture which is a fundamental part of the Yamabushi tradition. As a result, we are committed to paying the proper costs to support and maintain the local culture (i.e. Pilgrim Lodges, Shinto Shrines, Hotels, Local Food Culture including farmers.)
We return 10% of our profit to the local community so it can be spent on maintaining the cultural assets that you will see during your visit. These include the stone steps and cedars forest on Mt. Haguro, the thatched roofs of the Dewa Shrines, and the general preservation of the mountain paths.
We support diversity of culture. In Japan, as elsewhere, the rise of the global economy is threatening the uniqueness of certain local cultures, and their traditional ways. UNESCO has started a new designation system called 'Creative Cities' to maintain and develop Cultural Diversities for cities all over the world. We support this initiative.