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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
    • Travel
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

        Yuji Hirayama’s Urban Base Camp Opens in Shinj...

        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Yamabushido – Follow the Path of the Warrior Priests

“People ask me the meaning of Shugendō, and I answer that it is the philosophy of putting yourself in nature and thinking about what you feel. First feel. Then think. There are things you can’t learn without putting yourself in a situation. That is why I don’t explain it. I hardly talk during Shugyo training. You don’t learn from yamabushi. Nature is the teacher. A yamabushi’s role is simply to connect people and nature.”— Master Fumihiro Hoshino, “Life as you feel: The Way of Yamabushi”

For first-time travelers to Japan, every moment is a welcome assault on your senses. It’s still possible to seek out iconic images such as geisha ducking down narrow backstreets, burly sumo wrestlers ambling down city sidewalks or Mt. Fuji towering over the Kanto Plain. Yet mundane occurrences such as the masses packing into rush hour trains or doing a choreographed dance across crowded crosswalks is equally exciting.

Those who go deeper into Japan realize there are many layers to this wondrous country, so much so even long-time residents, who can become numb, or even worse, jaded to the subtle beauty and ancient traditions, are regularly surprised by new discoveries.

Travelers today are constantly on the lookout for authentic experiences and Japan is jewel in this regard. Those who search beyond well-trodden tourist trails often naturally discover the true nature of Japanese hospitality and forge deeper relationships with locals they meet and the country as well.

Head out of the cities and you’ll soon find yourself wandering in Japan’s sacred mountains. Shugendō mountain priests, called yamabushi, are an important part of Japan’s history. The traditional role of these warrior priests was to help guide disciples up steep mountain paths on a journey of self-discipline and self-awareness. For the first time in 1,300 years, yamabushi are inviting international visitors to join them on this path of self discovery. Daishōbō, a Shugendō lodge, which until recently was reserved only for Shugendō initiates, has launched a new mountain training program this summer called “Yamabushido,” aimed at non-Japanese travelers in Japan.

The location for the training is Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains (Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono) clustered together in the ancient province of Dewa (modern-day Yamagata Prefecture). Mt. Haguro has 2,446 beautiful stone steps lined by towering old cedar trees and signifies “the present.” Mt. Gassan symbolizes “the past” and is the mountain for the souls of the dead, it is also the highest (1,984 m) of the Dewa Sanzan. Mt. Yudono is “the future” and is known since ancient times as the place of rebirth.

“We found many people have tried meditation and other mindfulness practices in their lives, but we also realized yamabushi practices offer something different, something more powerful, and something which—although it has been practiced for more than 1,300 years — has never been more relevant,” says Takeharu Kato, who started Megurun, a company in Tsuruoka City focused on promoting renewable energy, sustainable living and revitalizing the region.

Yamabushi training is the simple philosophy of placing yourself in nature and feeling, not thinking, in order to rejuvenate and return to your true self. Yamabushi training is quick, practical, and effective, and provides a powerful context in which to resolve any challenges, questions, or decisions that need to be made,” Kato adds. While the practices are centuries old, they have never seemed more relevant than in this current age where people are becoming busier and busier and are looking for the chance to refresh and clear their mind and body. The Yamabushido programs are guided by local yamabushi priest Master Fumihiro Hoshino. The 70-year-old Master Hoshino is the 13th generation in a direct line to walk this sacred path. He lives in Daishōbō dedicating his life to living as a yamabushi and introducing the mystical power to others.

There are two Yamabushido programs available that teach the philosophy and the values of yamabushi as well as mountain training, aiming to empower participants with tools they can use after returning to their normal lives. Yamabushido Basic Training Program is a three-day experience under the direction of a certified yamabushi guide and takes place at Mt. Haguro, Mt. Yukon and Mt. Kinbō. The program starts on Mondays from June to October.

Yamabushido Extended Training Program is a full five-day experience under the direction of Master Hoshino and takes place on Mt. Haguro, Mt Gassan and Mt. Yudono.

Spaces in the programs are limited so click here for more information about the tours.

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