Enkan (円観)

Enkan (September 1, 1281 - April 2, 1356) was a Tendai Sect Buddhist monk who lived during the latter part of the Kamakura period and the Northern and Southern Courts period. His alias was Echin. This name is often written using simplified kanji. He was also given the alias 'Gokoku Daishi' after having received precepts from Emperor Gofushimi, Emperor Hanazono, Emperor Godaigo, Emperor Kogon and Emperor Komyo.

Enkan was born in Imanishi-sho, Azai County, Omi Province (modern-day Imanishi, Kohoku-cho, Higashiazai-gun, Shiga Province). He was ordained at Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei in 1295 where he studied the Endonkai (Precepts for Perfect and Immediate Enlightenment) Mahayana precept. However, he was not satisfied and eight years later left Mt. Hiei to establish Ritsu-in Temple (Geno-ji Temple) in Kitashirakawa with his master Koen, where he worked to enhance his understanding of the Endonkai precept. The devotion of Emperor Godaigo led to him being appointed Kanjin (position in charge of collecting donations for the temple) of Hossho-ji Temple in Kyoto in 1326 which he worked to restore and was allowed to reside in as reward for his success. Along with others including Monkan and Chuen, he participated in Emperor Godaigo's plot to overthrow of the shogunate; recruiting warrior monks from temples such as Enryaku-ji Temple, Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple, and praying for the spiritual safety of the Hojo clan. When the plot to over throw the shogunate was discovered in 1331, he was captured in Rokuhara and exiled to Mutsu Province.

During the Kenmu Restoration, he was pardoned, allowed to return to Hossho-ji Temple and appointed Daikanjin (position in charge of collecting donations for the temple) of Todai-ji Temple but worked for the Northern Court after the imperial line split into the Northern and Southern Courts. Many of his surviving writings relate to the Endonkai precept. It is also due to the efforts of Enkan that places of Endonkai precept study were established at the Engoku Shikaidan (Hokai-ji Temple in Kamakura, Yakushi-ji Temple in Kaga Province, Tomyo-ji Temple in Iyo Province and Chinko-ji Temple in Tsukushi Province). Enkan's system (Echin Monryu) was passed on to monks including Koshu, Yuiken and Unkai, and although part of the Tendai Sect, is thought to have existed as separate group from Enryaku-ji Temple until the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States).

[Original Japanese]