Gyoson (行尊)

Gyoson (1055 - March 28, 1135) was a Buddhist priest of the Tendai sect and a waka poet during the late Heian period. Also called Byodoin Daisojo (the highest position of priest, upper grade of Byodo-in Temple).

His father was MINAMOTO no Motohira, Sangi (councilor). He entered into the priesthood under Myoson at Onjo-ji Temple (Mii-dera Temple), learned Esoteric Buddhism from Raigo, and received kanjo (a consecration ceremony by pouring water onto the top of priest's head) from Kakuen. He started ascetic practices around 1070 in Mt. Omine, Mt. Katsuragi, and Kumano, thus he came to be known as an ascetic Buddhist priest. He was appointed to Kumano sanzan kengyo (an inspector of the three Kumano Shrines) the second. In May 1107, hogen (the second highest rank for Buddhist priests) was conferred upon him. In addition, in January, 1108, he was appointed as gojiso (a priest who stays near the Emperor and prays for the safety of the emperor) at the enthronement of the Emperor Toba. His incantations had remarkably miraculous efficacy, thus he was highly venerated by court nobles. Later he was appointed to Chori (chief priest) of Onjo-ji Temple, and in 1123 he became Tendai-zasu (the head priest of the Tendai sect). However, he stayed in the position for only six days before resignation due to a conflict between Enryaku-ji and Onjo-ji Temples. In 1125, he became Daisojo (a priest of the highest rank in the highest managerial position). Since then he held the post of betto (the head priest) of various temples successively, while he restored the declining Onjo-ji Temple.

He was also famous as a waka poet, and one of his waka poems was included in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka-poems by One Hundred Poets). 48 poems were selected for Chokusen wakashu (anthologies of Japanese poetry compiled by Imperial command) such as "Kinyo wakashu." His personal collection of poetry was entitled "Gyoson Daisojo shu."

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu
No. 66 On a mountain slope,Solitary, unaccompanied,Stands a cherry tree.Except for you, lonely friend,To others I am unknown.("Kinyo wakashu" miscellaneous No. 556)

He was also said to be a skilled calligrapher.

[Original Japanese]