Komuso Zen Monks wearing Basket Heads


These strange looking guys in photo are actually meditating KOMUSO monks 虚無僧 こむそう; who are  members of a Fuke 普化禪 sect of ZEN of Buddhism which all but died out in 1871 but still has a handful of modern followers.


You may have seen them in Japanese movies or in some Japanese festivals wearing their characteristic  straw basket head wear  (a sedge or reed hood named a tengai) and playing the shakuhachi  尺八 (しゃくはち (a type of Japanese bamboo flute)




The Komuso monks go from from house to house begging for alms  in exchange for a “blessing” to rid the house of (or protect it from) evil.


Following the Meiji restoration, the new government of Japan banned the practice of Fuke Zen and playing the shakuhachi for religious reasons because in practice many spies,  informers, samurai, ninja, thieves and  gangsters disguised themselves as  Komuso monks to avoid detection or cause trouble.

Komuso Videos

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2 Responses to “Komuso Zen Monks wearing Basket Heads”

  1. jake Says:

    Now I finally know they are called komuso Zen monks. Saw them in a couple of old b/w Japanese movies and thought they were made up but now I now they are actually real

  2. aimee Says:

    gives new meaning to the term “basket head”. how can they see where they are going? must be real uncomfortable to wear.

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