About “Shugendō for Sissies!”

While information on a few forms of Japanese religion — particularly Rinzai-shū and Sōtō-shū Zen as well as modern Shintō — has been readily available in the West for some time, many of the most interesting approaches to Japanese spirituality have never been documented in English to any great extent. This site hopes to remedy that to some degree.

The areas of focus here include

  • Shugendō — a syncretic "mountain religion", drawing from Shintō, mikkyō, Japanese sorcery (jujutsu), shamanism and animism
  • Koshintō — “old” Shintō, an attempt to recreate the original forms and practices of Shintō as they existed prior to the Meiji Restoration
  • Mikkyō — Japanese “esoteric” Buddhism, a parallel but independently-developed form of Mantrayana (i.e. "Vajrayana") to Tibetan Buddhism, brought to Japan from China in the early 9th Century by the monk Kūkai
  • Bonji — also known as siddham, a form of written Sanskrit used in shugendō, mikkyō, jujutsu and elsewhere, but in very few places outside of Japan, transmitted to Japan from China as a part of mikkyō by Kūkai
  • Fuke-shū Zen — a nearly extinct school of Zen which used playing a bamboo flute, the shakuhachi, in place of zazen (sitting meditation)
  • Jujutsu — native Japanese sorcery, much of it of Chinese/Taoist origin, particularly involving written spells called reifu (literally “spirit seals”)
  • Kuji-in and Kuji-kiri — the kuji (literally "nine glyphs") are a nine-character spell of Chinese origins which are used in a variety of esoteric practices, each with a hand-symbol or in (i.e. a mudra), a mantra, etc. They can be used as a protective spell or exorcism via a ritual called kuji-kiri, or “cutting the nine glyphs”
  • Onmyōdō — "the Way of Light and Shadow", a system of sorcery originally of Chinese origin and based on Taoism and "Five Element" theory