Ganami (願阿弥)

Ganami (? - June 23, 1486) was a priest of Ji Sect in the Muromachi period.

Although he came from a fisherman's family in Etchu Province, he entered a religious order of Ji Sect after realizing the retribution over killing animals, and devoted himself to social work as a kanjin-hijiri (priest who collects donated money for social work).

Ganami rebuilt the Gojo-ohashi Bridge, which had been washed away, using the donated money from the rich and also restored the Buddhist sanctum in Nanzen-ji Temple. He was a famous kanjin-hijiri in Kyoto. In an unveiling of the principle image at Hase-dera Temple in 1459, he carried the Emperor's command granting Imperial permission to Kofuku-ji Temple.

The nation was hit by the Kansho Famine from 1460 to 1461, which was caused by disturbances due to the internal troubles of the Hatakeyama clan in addition to a poor harvest because of abnormal weather, as well as an epidemic. In Kyoto alone, as many as 82,000 of people starved to death, with the result that Kamo-gawa River presented a horrible spectacle by being filled up with corpses. Giving 100 kanmon ("kanmon" is a monetary unit of old times, 100 kanmon is about one million yen at present) to Ganami, Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA ordered him to give food out of charity to starving people on January 22, 1461. Ganami also raised contributions from people in Kyoto and established a hut in the south of Rokkakudo Hall (Choho-ji Temple), starting to give millet porridge to starving people from February of the same year. However, the number of starving people was so huge that he had no other option but to stop giving food about a month later due to depletion of funds.

After the Onin war, Ganami made efforts to collect money for the reconstruction of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which had been burnt down in the war, by visiting various districts nationwide, and in turn, Kiyomizu-dera Temple Main Hall was reconstructed in 1484. He was called 'JOJUIN Gana' as a person who had done meritorious service for the reconstruction of the temple. Ganami died of illness two years later on May 13, 1486.

[Original Japanese]