Sect of Japanese mendicant monks / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The komusō (虚無僧/こむそう) (also romanized komusou or komuso) were a group of Japanese mendicant monks of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism who flourished during the Edo period (1603–1867).[1] Komusō were characterized by a straw basket (a sedge or reed hood known as a tengai) worn on the head, manifesting the absence of specific ego but also useful for traveling incognito.[2] They were also known for playing solo pieces on the shakuhachi (a type of bamboo flute). These pieces, called honkyoku ("fundamental pieces"), were played during a meditative practice called suizen, in return for alms, as a method of attaining enlightenment, and as a healing modality.[citation needed]

A Buddhist monk begging as a komusō
Sketch of a komusō (right)

During the Meiji period (1868–1912), the Japanese government formally abolished the Fuke sect. Documentation of the musical repertoire of the performers survived, and it has been revived in the 21st century.[citation needed]