Cloistered Imperial Prince Shucho (守澄法親王)

Cloistered Imperial Prince Shucho (September 3, 1634 - June 12, 1680) was the first Rinnojinomiya Monzeki (temple formerly led by founder of sect, temple in which resided a member of nobility or imperial family) or Nikko Monzeki. He was the head priest of the mountains of Mt. Toei and Mt. Nikko. He was the head priest of the Tendai sect. He was bestowed various titles such as nihon (the second court rank for Imperial Princes), Isshin Ajari (a special class of the teaching priests, who are noble and permitted to play role of ajari), Ippon (First Order of an Imperial Prince), Goji, Gissha (special permission from the Emperor to enter the imperial palace in an ox-drawn cart), and Kenpu Ajari (teaching priests, who were in charge of inspections and sealing) from the Imperial Court.

He was born as the third prince of Emperor Gomizunoo in September 1634.

As part of the policy of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) concerning the Imperial Court and religion, the bakufu submitted a request to the Imperial Court in 1638 for a prince to move outside of Kyoto (regarded as "descending" from the holy Imperial compounds to the lower world), and an understanding was reached beteween the bakufu and the Imperial Court the following year for such an arrangement.

He "descended" from Kyoto to the Kanto (Eastern part of Japan) in 1647 and assumed residence on Mt. Toei.

He climbed Mt. Nikko three times in 1648.

He visited Kyoto to be crowned the First Imperial Prince in 1649.

He conducted the ritual to pray for peace at the tomb of Iemitsu TOKUGAWA at Mt. Koyo in July 1654. He was handed the post of chief priest of Mt. Toei and Mt. Nikko (two holy mountains) from his predecessor Monk Kokai in November of that year.

He again visited Kyoto for the ritual to pray for peace at the palace in September 1655. He was bestowed the title of chief priest of the Tendai sect by the Imperial Court in October. After he performed the ritual to pray for peace at the palace in November, the Imperial Court bestowed the title of Rinno-ji Temple on Mt. Nikko. This established the post of Rinnojinomiya Monzeki. He resigned from the post of chief priest of the Tendai sect in December.

The bakufu named Rinnojinomiya Monzeki as the chief priest in charge of the three mountains of Mt. Hiei, Mt. Toei and Mt. Nikko.

In April 1658 during the memorial ceremony to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the death of Hidetada TOKUGAWA, Cloistered Imperial Prince Shucho petitioned a grand pardon.

He performed the rituals to pray for peace at the residential compound in Honmaru (the keep of a castle) of the Edo-jo Castle in September 1659.

He performed the rituals to pray for peace at the resting place for the spirit of Hoju-in Temple at Mt. Toei in October 1664.

He visited Kyoto in May 1666 to meet with Gomizuoin and to attend the memorial prayer services for Emperors Goyozei and Gokomyo.

He again visited Kyoto in May 1673 for the reestablishing of Chinese characters to be avoided and to attend the tokudo (enter the Buddhist priesthood) of Cloisered Imperial Prince Tenshin, who was later to become the second Rinnojinomiya Monzeki.

He visited Kyoto in January 1677 and May 1678 to pray for the recovery from illness of Tofukumonin Kazuko.

He passed away in May 1680. Cloistered Imperial Prince Tenshin succeeded him as Miya Monzeki.

[Original Japanese]