The spiritual aspect was a vital part of the training of the Shinobi.

The belief was that one when one practiced Shugendo, one was on the path to attaining spiritual powers which helped significantly conquer the surrounding physical world.

The followers of Shugendo are called Keza  験者 (those who have accumulated power).

This path  directly tied into the development of the Shinobi due to the fact that there was a strong emphasis on the need for physical endurance.

The end goal is enlightenment, the path was through physical activity and connecting with nature, specifically with the mountain.

Keza implement isolation, fasting, meditation and practice physical exercises such as enduring the fierceness of mountain snow for several hours without end.

When Keza arrive in specific mountain areas they may be required to recite specific poems that are relevant to that sacred space.


“The whole mountain range from Yoshino to Kumano, the cradle of Shugendō, is considered the dual mandala of the Kongokai (Diamond Realm) and Taizokai (Matrix Realm). Kongokai represents the wisdom and efforts of Dainichi Buddha to destroy all illusion, while Taizokai symbolizes Dainichi’s teachings.”


Shugendo helped to instill a reverence for nature and for the aspects of the natural world that one was not able to manipulate.

Keza connected with nature, learned from nature and through physical endurance and meditation to be ready in being able to defend against the potential issues that would be faced from life and to be able to go on the offensive when needing to accomplish a certain objective.

Here is an excerpt from one of the many powerful ascetic songs.

Songs to Make the Dust Dance

shiba no iori ni hijiri owasu In many ways the devil tempts
tenma wa samazama ni nayamasedo the holy man in his brushwood hut;
myojo yoyaku izuru hodo when the morning star appears, finally
tsui ni wa shitagai tatematsuru the devil gives up and worships the holy man.

How do you interact with nature ?


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