Koshikidake Koryu Shugendo
Foreign Visitor Training
Koryu Shugen Honshu Kannon-Ji Temple is happy to accept and teach applicants from countries outside Japan.
Your first steps to become part of our sangha include:
• Understand clearly what Shugendo is, and how it relates to other Japanese spiritual traditions like Buddhism and Shinto and shamanic practices. Do some reading on the internet, and look for books on amazon.com relating to Shugendo in Japan.
• “Like” our Facebook information page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shugendo/174366902597276
• Apply to join our Facebook practitioner page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/509586475787224/
• Purchase a copy of our Koryu Shugen Honshu Sutra Recitation Service book for Y3,500 (plus shipping) through PayPal. Contact us with your shipping address and we will tell you how to process your purchase through our PayPal account:
代表宗家 大慈院 聖海 電話０２３７（４２）４８２２
Soke Shokai Koshikidake
1-21-15 Onsen-Machi Higashine-Shi Yamagata-Ken
Phone: 0237 (42) 4822
• Practice the foundational exercises presented in our Facebook b-shugendo (beginner training), and then eventually a-shugendo (advanced training), so you have a firm foundation in our practice before you arrive in Japan.
Residential training period is 10 days, in principle, though special circumstances may require other arrangements.
Study and practice curriculum will depend on your personal objectives for your residential training. If you are learning our b-shugendo material, your training visit to our temple in Japan will focus on:
• Koryu Shugen Honshu Sutra Recitation Service practices
• A-Ji Kan Meditation A-syllable meditation
If you have graduated to learning our a-shugendo material, your training visit to our temple in Japan will focus on:
• Senko Goma Incense fire offering
• Gyoja Daibosatsu Ho Summoning presence of Shugendo founder
• Shi-Kan Meditation Centered and Investigative meditations
Outdoor Takigyo waterfall ritual practice and mountain trekking are offered when the seasonal weather is suitable.
Instruction is communicated in English language.
Donation contribution expected for your training stay is Y120,000, which covers all training sessions, accommodations, breakfasts and dinners. You may consider additional donations to some of the assistant instructors who will help teach you, but this is not required and is your option. Travel to the temple and costs for any medical treatment of sickness or injury during the course is your individual responsibility.
Tokudo Ordination is an option available to seriously committed student disciples who have learned the b-shugendo and a-shugendo practices. Please note that Tokudo ordination is not required of members of Koryu Shugen, and is offered as an additional service. Practitioners undergoing Tokudo ordination wear Hou-I robes and Kesa stole for the ritual. Please notify us if you wish to arrange for Tokudo ritual at the temple, as it will take approximately two months to prepare your hand-tailored robes. Cost for the ritual clothing is about Y120,000, and costs associated with the Tokudo ritual are Y80,000, so your total will be around Y200,000.
Soke Shokai Koshikidake’s Suggestions for a Successful Visit
I look forward to welcoming you to Japan, and to training in our Koryu Shugen Honshu spiritual legacy!
Japan has cultural customs that are sometimes difficult for foreigners to understand. There have been cases where people made mistakes and got in trouble without even knowing what happened. We want your training visit with us to be a happy and empowering event, and we certainly do not want you to return home with unpleasant memories.
Let me share a few cases of distress caused by cultural differences between Japan and other countries. Again, please note I am only commenting on differences. I am not stating that the Japanese way is better or that our friends’ countries’ cultures are wrong. I just want you to understand and be comfortable here.
Language! Japan is unique in the world, having a sole language and a sole race. Compared with other countries, we lag behind in internationalization and “cultural diversity”. Many Japanese people do not understand languages other than Japanese and are unaware of how to communicate with foreigners. Some misunderstandings are bound to happen because of communication style differences.
Attention! Nobody comes to Japan intending to lose face through accidental cultural mistakes or perceived rudeness. However, we have had cases where we had to terminate practice and dismiss some individuals because they did not pay attention to not making mistakes. They left our Shugendo blaming cultural differences, but actually the problem was their lazy lack of discipline when it came to just paying attention.
Tattoos! In old Japan, tattoos were forced on criminals as a way for ordinary citizens to wary of them. Connections between tattoos and the criminal world continue to this day. Yes, I know some people enjoy wearing tattoos as an art form these days, and some Japanese people even wear tattoos as art now. However for traditional practice occasions, some religious groups will not accept shugendo practitioners wearing tattoos. We as Koryu Shugen Honshu do not prohibit tattoos, but it is a taboo to show your tattoos in certain practice places. A good common sense solution is to cover any tattoo by wearing a long sleeve T-shirt as a courtesy to the kami-sama deities in Japan. To proudly show off a tattoo is considered absolutely shameful behavior here.
Exclusivity! Some people mistakenly believe Shugendo training will be like a casual class at a cultural center. But Shugendo is a religion. What we teach is a legacy of practices handed down by successors for over a thousand years. Our curriculum is full of secretive high knowledge, some of which is so confidential that other religious sects have no idea what we know. For that reason, if you belong to one religious sect you may not join others. Sharing the secrets of the sect is seen as diluting and weakening the sect’s unique identity. Martial arts friends tell me it is similar in their world as well; you do not reveal dojo secret techniques to outsiders.
Sincere humility! Our Shugendo Tokudo ordination rite makes you part of the order and gives you access to our highest and most important secret teachings. However, Tokudo is not some sort of “award” that means you are now a brilliant and complete shugenja. You need to practice even harder to master our various practices, and you need to be even more aware of observing the rules of our order. Even after Tokudo, there have been cases where individuals had to be dismissed. Once you are dismissed by a religious sect, you are banned from conducting any rituals taught to you, and it will be difficult to be accepted by another religious sect. Again, I am told it is similar in the martial arts world; to receive a black belt does not mean that you are a master all done with your learning and responsibilities.
Welfare responsibility! Koshikidake Koryu Shugendo cannot be responsible for unexpected incidents or accidents in Japan. Japanese residents are covered by insurance, but those from abroad will not have national insurance coverage. During practice, we may trek up mountains (no steep climbing), walk through woodlands, step into ponds and go under waterfalls, or leap over fire. You could be injured. The climate may be different from yours, so you need to consider your health. Before leaving home, please invest in a traveller’s health insurance policy to cover possible health care needs in Japan.
Prepare for success! You might start the practice as an apprentice disciple, and avoid making a big commitment up front. That way, if what we teach and practice does not match up with what you need, you are free to leave and find another sect that fits you better. However, for those who are convinced we are practicing what they are seeking, we should clarify the rules right at the beginning to avoid having your practice end in an unsatisfactory way. Therefore, I am posting this simple manual on behavior with references to past difficulties prospective students made on the path. Here are 3 areas of advice to help you succeed:
✦ Basic manners for gyoja practitioners – Know how to fit in
✦ Daily schedule of practice – Use your time effectively
✦ Courtesy among gyoja practitioners sharing group event facilities
Observe these 3 areas of etiquette, and your practice will be smooth and trouble-free. However, a few people made mistakes and ruined their opportunity to become part of Koryu Shugendo. As illustrations of what not to do, here are some examples of how to avoid trouble that would jeopardize your connection with us:
Follow the Schedule
Like many Shugenja, I work for a company to earn a living, so my teaching hours are limited to early morning and late evening except on holidays. When I am teaching, I need to cut my sleeping hours and private concerns, and I must work even harder at the office to come home as early as possible. One student did not show up for our morning session. After waiting nearly an hour, the student told me to skip the teaching due to his not feeling well. Another student started out well, but the longer he stayed the less discipline he observed. I start preparation at 5 am in order to begin teaching at 6 am. I was ready and waiting, but he appeared a half hour late, and even then he told me he was tired and needed to rest. Of course accidents can happen, but these things should not be a habit. I too can be exhausted physically and mentally with too little sleep and too much work. Please follow the schedule, and let me know in a timely way if you need to change our arrangements.
You are here to learn and practice
One student stayed out late drinking when he should have been sleeping. He also decided to go to a sports gym and mountain climbing without telling us at the temple. Keep in mind that you are shugenja. During the visit, stay in the temple and perfect your practice.
Eat what is served
You will not be used to some of the food here, but be patient. You are in Japan, not Europe or America. Expecting your favorite food here would be like a Japanese insisting on Japanese food abroad; that is not reasonable. Do not eat food other than what we serve. Some students went out and brought food back to eat in the room, even though it is difficult to keep food without a refrigerator. It is also dangerous using inappropriate cooking tools. If you really are having trouble with our Japanese food, think of it as part of your practice to endure hunger.
Do not embarrass yourself
Some students want to use their Japan visit to generate marketing propaganda back home. One person dressed in robes and visited a temple where the priest was absent, and took photos for his blog to make it look like that was his temple. He also posted a photo at my friend’s karate dojo with a comment about passing the test for black belt, which did not really happen. Of course the priest and the karate teacher complained to me. With such disrespectful behavior, that student lost credibility, and we as Shugendo lost face and honor.
Follow important advice
It is understandable that you might wish to do other things beside practice when you visit Japan. We will do our best to assist you to research, prepare for, and arrange extra activities. But please heed our advice and stay safe. One student wanted to visit Mt. Omine after our training on Mt. Koshikidake, and we arranged that for him. Mt. Omine is a dangerous mountain and we advised him to arrange a guide. But he did not take our advice and ended up lost in the mountain range. It became a big incident locally. Finally he was found safely after all, but we had to report his loss to the police and prepare an extremely expensive search party. He made no apology nor expressed any appreciation for our help and simply left for home. Be aware that your visit to Japan for training with us, you are here as a guest of Koshikidake Koryu Shugen, and we are held responsible for you if anything goes bad.
Shugendo is not a vacation
One person from overseas attending our Mine-gyo Mountain Training complained that some of the Japanese participants did not greet him respectfully the way he expected. You must understand that for many Japanese gyoja, it is not usual to find foreigners at the event, and many hesitate to make any conversation out of fear of offending the foreigners. But of course they they respect you. Otherwise they would not allow you to join them in training. Another person complained about snoring and early morning talking at the group shelter on the mountain, and then insisted on moving to a comfy room at a local inn. Realize that you will encounter experiences different from what you might expect in your own home in your own country. If others’ snoring or talking annoys you to the point of anger, it is not a good idea for you to practice Shugendo, which is carried out as a group sharing meals and sleeping at the same place. If such conditions are intolerable for you, please consider learning with another type of temple.
Underestimation leads to failure
We will do our sincere best to help you get the results you want. I will teach in the morning and evening on my working days, and my disciples may be able to teach during the day. You can spend other times studying the practice on your own. But no one is watching you or keeping tabs on you, and no one will stop you from taking a nap or looking around on the internet. However kami-sama deities see your actions and hear your comments. How determined are you? Anyone who thinks this practice is easy may face surprising difficulties. You are coming to us to acquire firm knowledge and manners through our curriculum. If you follow the plan earnestly, you will achieve a satisfactory outcome. You are paying a lot of money to travel here, so do not go home with disappointing results.
We want you to win
In order to assure your practice will be a happy and satisfactory one, let’s work with each other with sincere good will and cooperate to make an effort to enhance everyone’s practice. Koryu Shugen Honshu will happily support you with the wish that you will be successful in your studies and will become a pioneer leader of Shugendo in your home country.