Fuke sect (普化宗)

Fuke sect is a branch of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Because Fuke who had friendship with Rinzai Gigen in China in the ninth century is regarded as the progenitor, Fuke sect is also thought to be a school of Rinzai sect (Zen). Fuke was a monk with mysterious power and he left many miraculous anecdotes, so he is veiled in the strong legendary factors. The sect is famous for a komuso (begging Zen priest of Fuke sect, who wears a sedge hood and plays a shakuhachi bamboo flute) who travels playing the kyotaku (shakuhachi, a vertical bamboo flute).

Fuke sect was introduced into Japan by Kakushin SHINCHI who went abroad to China (Southern Sung Dynasty) from Japan in 1249, and came back home with Hofuku (宝伏), Kokusa (国佐), Risho (理正), and Sojo (僧恕), the four lay Buddhists that were disciples of SON Chosan, the sixteenth generation teacher of Fuke sect in China, in 1254. He built Fuke-an monastery in the precincts of Kokoku-ji Temple in Kii-Yura and took up his abode there.

Afterward, Kinsen (Konsen), who was a successor of Kakushin SHINCHI, emerged and established Ichigetsu-dera Temple in Kogane, Shimousa Province (present-day Kogane, Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture) on Tsunetoki HOJO's conversion to Buddhism, and constructed the dojo (training hall). By the way, it was in and after the early-modern times (the Edo period) that Fuke sect announced its name officially and acted as one religious school.

In the Edo period, Fuke sect was a special religious school that was formed by group of komuso. It hardly had any doctrine or religious inside substance, but treated shakuhachi as a ritual apparatus and played it to practice Zen or to do takuhatsu (a traditional form of begging, common to Buddhist monks in Japan). Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) organized the sect, including the qualifications to join the sect to be a Komuso and the costumes to wear. It is believed that the sect also served as a secret agent, as they had various privileges such as the freedom to pass through all provinces.

Because Fuke sect had been strongly connected with the Edo bakufu, the sect was dissolved by the government after entering into Meiji era in 1871, therefore the sect has been lost as a religious school. However, the stream that hands down the characteristics of the sect through shakuhachi and kyotaku instructors still remains at present and it is an important factor in the history of shakuhachi music.

[Original Japanese]