On an English Shingon website: http://www.shingon.org/sbii/training/TestingETC.html it states:
This seems to contradict what I know to be a fact. It could simply be the way the website is worded however.Discipleship and Training
the Shingon Priesthood
TESTING, LICENSING and FURTHER TRAINING
The Disciple must then take a comprehensive test for Licensing and upon passing requires payment of 300,000 yen for the lowest level license (about $2820 at current yen value.)
This is only the basic training, for four rituals. In Shingon there are more than 250 rituals. These require additional training, through what is called the Transmission of the Complete Teachings (Ichiryu Denju). On Mount Koya a person then takes the Gakue program for ten years and becomes a Maha Acharya. On Mount Koya a person must be a Maha Acarya in order to take on Disciples.
The first license, the website does not say what it is a license FOR. Is it a license to teach?
Then bolded at the bottom, it says one must spend ten years and become a maha acarya to take on disciples. I know, for a fact, in order to teach one simply must pass a test, mainly composed of ritual texts (this is of course after already receiving acarya abhiseka). There are 16 or so levels of the Japanese priesthood heirarchy and one's permission to teach is based upon that....not upon becoming a maha acarya.
Lastly, maha acarya 大阿闍黎 is not common in Japanese Shingon. Though used for some of the higher clergy, who are allowed to teach just about everything, it has nothing to do with being allowed to teach some of the earlier practices (unless "taking on disciples" means something different than "being allowed to teach", though I would imagine they are one and the same thing...since you teach to disciples). The website does say "on Mt. Koya" so perhaps it is specifically referring to teaching AT Koyasan rather than FOR/under the auspices of Koyasan.
So it may be the way the website is worded....but it seems contradictory to what I know from many many acaryas I have spoken to.
Anyone got any insight? Thanks!