Shugendo: Japanese Mountain Religion – State of the Field and Bibliographic Review



Shugendo is a fascinating subject that crosses conceptual and scholarly boundaries. This is a cause of its richness, but also has led to a great deal of misunderstanding. A major concern remains its definition; if this article brings readers to a greater awareness of its parameters, the author will be well-satisfied. My purpose here is not so much a description of Shugendo history and rituals, important as they are, as to introduce contemporary scholarship regarding them, primarily in English, but also to a lesser extent in French and German, to an English readership. It has been impossible to do this without reference to the Japanese scholarship upon which much of that work is indebted, since knowledge of this scholarship is crucial in dispelling Western misconceptions about Shugendo. Therefore, at the risk of excluding scholars of religion who cannot access the work directly because of the linguistic limitations, I have attempted to draw the attention of readers to the most significant works written in Japanese on the subject as well. At the same time, bearing in mind that this article is not intended simply for historians of religion already in the Japanese field, I have felt it to be important to provide the broadest possible selection of works in English that relate to the theme, to allow English language readers a wide access to monographs and articles about Shugendo or Shugendo-related subjects. Space considerations have circumscribed detailed discussion of the research history, but every effort has been made to refer to the main issues involved.