Tenkawa Village

Sacred Center of Shugendo

About Tenkawa Village

Tenkawa Village is located in the heart of Kii Peninsula. One-quarter of its area is designated as Yoshino-Kumano National Park.
The village has Omine mountain ranges including the highest mountain in Kinki area, Hakkyogatake.
A drop from the head water in the mountains makes clear water streams in the valleys,
bounteous supply of water falls and beautiful natural landscapes.

Japanese people has respected mountains and deep nature and protected them since the ancient times. In 2004, UNESCO World Heritage sites: Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range was registered, a part of the main component elements belongs to Tenkawa Village, such as Omine-okugake Road pilgrimage route and the Yoshino Omine sacred site.
Today practitioners visit the sacred mountain, Omine where became the site of Japan’s first mountain worship by En-no Gyoja, the founder of Shugendo 1300 years ago.

What is "Shugendo"?

Japanese people has held a great reverence for distant mountain peaks, productive forests and precipitous cliff since the ancient times. People has considered mountains which produce water as the essence of life and respected it as a god. Shugendo was established as a mixture of this nature worship, Shinto and esoteric Buddhism. Shugendo practitioners pursue the goal of achieving the spiritual power and the salvation of himself and others by entering into deep mountains and having harsh training there. “Path of training to achieve the spiritual powers”, that is, Shugendo.

En-no Gyoja, the founding patriarch of Shugendo, entered into sacred mountains and devoted himself to training. He was finally endowed enlightenment by deity Zao Gongen. That happened on the sacred mountain, Mt. Omine. Since then, Mt. Omine has been the central training center for over 1300 years and still today many practitioners enter the mountain in order to reflect on themselves and revitalize their souls.


Sendachi is Yamabushi, a well-experienced Shugendo practitioner. When entering into the sacred mountain for the purpose of a Shugendo training, they lead a group and teach manners of the trainings.
In Tenkawa Village, there are two kinds of Sendachi. One is a monk Sendachi. They are dressed in a monk outfit, brow conch trampet and make a preach. Another is a mountain Sendachi. They are not monks but belong to “Nemuro-kai” which is consists of professionals with the skills of mountain guiding and Shugendo trainings. In Shugendo which gives most importance to training than theory, a well-experienced sendachi is a most reliable leader on the dangerous mountains. Following Sendachi’s words is a must to complete your training safely.

Preparation for entering
the mountain

Attitude toward to Shugendo training

Our Shugendo experience tours are taken place as Shugendo trainings. This is not a sightseeing or a leisure trekking, either. Please understand that you have to follow Sendachi, the absolute during the training. Discipline yourself and the following acts strictly are prohibited.
-To hurt nature in the sacred places.
-To Get out of line such as talking, eating and taking a break without Sendachi’ permission.

Carelessness and worldly thought in the precipitous mountain can trigger a life-threatening accident.
In case that you cannot follow the direction by Sendachi, you need to descend the mountain at once.
The agreement on this rule is necessary to join this Shugendo tour.

How dangerous Mt. Omine could be is one of the big reasons that Mt. Omine has been forbidden to women. The legend about caring between En-no Gyoja and his mother has been passed down as the origin of “No Women admitted” into Mt. Omine.


    Putting on white clothes and white Hachimaki (headband) is need in principle. Regarding shoes, Jikatabi (rubber-soled socks with the big toe separate) is preferable, but comfortable sports shoes or trekking shoes are also fine. White clothes and white Hachimaki is included into the tour fee. You can get them on the spot.


    Water Purification Ceremony

    You need to purify yourself with water before entering the sacred mountain. Ryusenji Temple has a Suigyo training spot which En-no Gyoja found. The cold and clear water will replenish participants and get them ready for Shugendo training.

    Please make sure to put on your swimming wear under the white clothes as white clothes is easily transparent when it’s wet in the water.

The origin of “No Women Admitted” into Mt. Omine

The founder of Shugendo, En-no Gyoja devoted himself into training on the mountain over 1300 years ago. His mother, Shiratoume worried about her son in the mountain. She walked up to Hebinotani Valley at Dorogawa Village. When she tried to enter the mountain, a huge snake prevented her in. She reluctantly gave up entering the mountain and stayed at the village.
As En-no Gyoja didn’t want his mother put in danger in the harsh mountain, he built a hut for her and bounded with a ritual gate between the mountain and the village. Mt. Omine is such a harsh and dangerous mountain that people can lose his life. “No Women Admitted” into Mt. Omine reflect his affection to his mother.

Women Shugendo practitioners enter Mt. Inamuragatake instead of Mt. Omine. Mt. Inamuragatake is called “Shugendo Mountain for women” as against Mt. Omine with no women admitted. This mountain is certified as an official Shugendo training dojo for women by Ryusenji Temple. Groups of Shugendo practitioners with sendachi are seen on the mountain.

On the basis of the above reasons, we prepare some kinds of Shugendo Experiece tours.

Shugendo Training Tours and Others

Mt. Omine Shugendo Training Tour

This tour gives you the chance to place yourself into a genuine Shugendo world in the sacred mountain. Secluded deep in the mountains, Tenkawa Village is the hidden gem of a hot spring village. This tour takes you to Mt. Omine for Shugedo training.

Mt. Imanuragatake Shugendo Training Tour

This tour gives you the chance to place yourself into a genuine Shugendo world in the sacred mountain. Secluded deep in the mountains, Tenkawa Village is the hidden gem of a hot spring village. This tour takes you to Mt. Inamuragatake for Shugedo training.