Tengu, long-nosed protective spirits of the mountains and forests, are sometimes associated with the practice of the shakuhachi, and the ascetic discipline known as shugendō.
Shugenja (修験者), "a person of training and testing", or "a person of shugen", in Japan and throughout the world, develops spiritual strength and perseverance through challenging and rigorous tests of courage and devotion known as shugyō. Pilgrimages involving mountain treks are embarked upon by shugenja and komuso.
Also, like the tengai-wearing komuso, many modern shugenja maintain the practice of relative anonymity in their daily lives.
Playing shakuhachi in adverse conditions is encouraged as a form of shugyō and a way to develop the spirit, the heart, and the mind.