Enni (円爾)

Enni (November 8, 1202 - November 17, 1280) was a priest of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism in Japan, who lived during the mid-Kamakura period. He was born in Suruga Province (Shizuoka Prefecture). His shigo (posthumous name) was Shoichi kokushi, kokushi meaning the most reverend priest.

Enni was born in Tochizawa, Abe County, Suruga Province (Shizuoka City) in 1202. From childhood, he studied Kusharon (sutra of the Kusha sect) and the Tendai sect under Gyoben at Kuno-ji Temple on Mt. Kuno. Entering the Buddhist priesthood at the age of 18, he studied Rinzai Zen under Eicho at Choraku-ji Temple in Kozuke Province and then Gyoyu at Jufuku-ji Temple in Kamakura. In 1235, he went across the sea to the Sung (dynasty) and inherited the teachings of Wuzhun Shifan (1178-1249). Although his hoi (imina - personal name used by Buddhist priests) was Benen at first and Enni was his priest title, he changed the hoi to Enni later (he had no dogo - a pseudonym as a priest). Although his name is sometimes described as 'Enni Benen,' Enni has no dogo as mentioned above and this name 'Enni Benen' is inappropriate since it describes both the previous hoi and the new hoi.

In 1241, after returning to Japan from Sung, Enni founded Joten-ji Temple in Hakata, where he landed, and Tofuku-ji Temple after going to Kyoto. He lectured on Zen in the Imperial Court and committed himself to the propagation of the Rinzai sect. The style of the sect was not pure Zen, but the study of both Zen and Esoteric Buddhism. Although the basis of all the sects was placed on the Rinzai sect, Zen was not the only teaching, and it was propagated along with the teachings of the Shingon sect and the Tendai sect. Hence, he was actively involved in sects other than the Rinzai sect and gained trust there, as exemplified in his assumption of the position of Daikanjin (priest to collect contributions) at Todai-ji Temple.

In his later years, Enni went back to his hometown, Suruga Province, and founded the Kaishun-in Temple on Mt. Io near the home of his mother to propagate Zen. He is also referred to as the progenitor of Shizuoka tea (Honyama tea) because he promoted the planting of tea plant seeds he brought back from Sung and popularized the cultivation of tea. The name 'Mt. Io Kaishun-in,' where his grave is located, is said to mean the effects of tea: perpetual youth and longevity.

After his death, Enni was awarded the kokushi name 'Shoichi' from Emperor Hanazono in 1311.

Goroku (the sayings)

Shoichi Kokushi Goroku

[Original Japanese]