Ingen Ryuki (Also known as Yinyuan Longqi) (隠元隆き)

INGEN Ryuki (December 7, 1592 – May 19, 1673) was a Chinese Zen Buddhist priest in the periods of the late Ming Dynasty and the early Qing Dynasty, who was born in Fuqing, Fuzhou of Fujian Province, China; his secular family name was Hayashi (林), and his imperially bestowed titles in Japan were Shinku daishi (daishi: a great teacher monk) and Kako daishi; and he was given special posthumous Buddhist names, Daiko-fusho kokushi (kokushi: a posthumous Buddhist title given by the Emperor), Butsuji-kokan kokushi, Kinzan-shushutsu kokushi, and Kakusho-enmyo kokushi.

He introduced Zen Buddhism of the Ming Dynasty that was characterized by nenbutsu-zen (Zen training with Buddhist invocation) to Japan, and keeping his unique solemn manner, he made a great impact on the Zen Buddhism world at that time to give large stimulation to the recovery movement of the Rinzai Sect and the Soto Sect, along with Dosha Chogen (unknown – 1660: he came to Japan in 1651, and returned to China in 1658) who had come to Japan little earlier than him. He is also said to have been a founder of Senchado (green tea ceremony) in Japan.

From His Birth Until His Emigration to Japan

He was born at Manango-reitokuri-torin (万安郷霊得里東林), Fuqing, Fuzhou of Fujian Province, China. His secular name was Sohei LIN (林曽炳).

Although he was awakened to Buddhism when he was ten years old (some say sixteen), his mother would not allow him to become a priest.

When he was twenty-three he visited Chondoshu (潮音洞主) in Mt. Putuo (Zhejiang Province), where he served as a non-priest devotee.

At twenty-nine, he entered the Buddhist priesthood under KANGEN Koju at Manpuku-ji Temple on Mt. Obaku of Fuqing (Fujian Province, China), which was an old temple at his birth place and once a residence of OBAKU Kiun (or Huangbo Xiyun in Chinese) (黄檗希運).

At thirty-three, he practiced Zen under MITSUN Engo (Also known as Mi-yun Yuan-wu, 密雲円悟), a Zen priest, at Vang-un ghoul-un juu Temple on Mt. Jinsushan, and later Ingen followed Mistun who took up a new position as chief priest at Manpuku-ji Temple.

At thirty-five, he became enlightened.

When Ingen was thirty-eight, Mitsun gave his position over to his disciple HIIN Tsuyo and left the temple, but Ingen stayed at Manpuku-ji Temple to inherit the dharma from Hiin at forty-five.

Later, when Ingen was engaged himself in ascetic practices at Shishiiwa (獅子巌) after leaving Manpuku-ji Temple, he was invited to become a juji (a resident head of a temple) on Mt. Obaku succeeding Hiin, where he assumed the position in 1637. Later he once left the Temple, but took the position again in 1646, when the social upheavals in the transition period from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty spread to Fujian Province.

After His Immigration to Japan

In the early Edo period, as a juji position became vacant at Sofuku-ji Temple (Nagasaki City) that was a temple of Chinese priests, ITSUNEN Shoyu (逸然性融) who was in Japan and juji of Kofuku-ji Temple (Nagasaki City) invited Ingen to Japan. At first Ingen sent his disciple YARAN Shokei (也嬾性圭) off, but he was killed in a shipwreck on his way to Japan, so Ingen had to bring himself to Japan aboard a ship Seiko TEI (鄭成功) prepared with many disciples in tow in 1654.

Although he is said to have come to Japan to avoid the social turmoil that China experienced in the transition period between the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, this judgment has no grounds in remaining letters and records.

A number of intelligent monks and scholars were attracted by Ingen's high virtue and the new Zen Buddhism of Ming to gather around Kofuku-ji Temple where Ingen first lived, and the temple is said to have been very active and was flocked to by several thousand monks and believers.

In 1655, RYOKEI Shosen, juji of Myoshin-ji Temple, persuaded Ingen to become juji of Fumon-ji Temple in Shimagami, Settsu Province (present Takatsuki City of Osaka Prefecture), but the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) forbid him to go out of the temple and also restricted the number of attendants at the meetings in the temple to within 200, because the bakufu feared Ingen's religious influence.

Although he decided to return to China after the three years which he at first promised to stay for, responding to the repeated requests of his home country to go home, Ryukei and other priests worked hard to detain him from going home and set up a meeting between Ingen and Ietsuna TOKUGAWA, the Shogun, successfully in 1658. Consequently, in 1660, he was given land for a temple at Owada of Uji-gun, Yamashiro Province, and the next year he built a new temple which he named Manpuku-ji Temple on Mt. Obaku after the temple of his home Fuqing as he pledged to remember the old people and things.

In 1663, he held an opening ceremony at the newly completed hall to bless the country and conducted Japan's first Jukai (handing down the precepts) called 'Obaku Sandan kaie' (Triple Ordination Platform Ceremony) for people.

Obakuzan Manpuku-ji Temple in Fuqing of China has been called 'Ko-obaku' (literally, Old Obaku) ever since in Japan.

After the Foundation of Obaku Sect

This made Ingen a founder of a sect of Zen Buddhism in Japan, but initially, the sect did not call itself Obaku Sect. Since he was proud of himself as a successor of authentic Rinzai Sect, the sect called itself Rinzaisei Sect. However, since its tradition and Kiku (regulation) and Shingi (daily regulations in Zen temples) at the monastery followed the Rinzai Zen Buddhism of the Ming Dynasty in China, it was somewhat different from the Rinzai Sect that had already taken root in Japan, and the difference led it to form a new sect.

Ingen's "Obaku-shingi" (Obaku code of conduct) had a great impact on the rehabilitation of religious code of conduct of Japanese Zen sects which began to be lapsed at that time, and the book was viewed as a valued model for the religious reform movement of Soto Sect led by Dohaku MANZAN.

Emperor Gomizunoo, the Imperial family members, senior officials of the bakufu, rural feudal lords, and many merchants became believers of the Obaku Sect of Ingen.

He occupied the position of resident head priest of Manpuku-ji Temple for three years, and gave the position to his disciple MOKUAN Shoto to retire in Shoin-do hall in October, 1664.

After retiring in Shoin-do hall, at eighty-two years old in February, 1673, he began putting his affairs in order in contemplation of his death, his health deteriorated rapidly in April, and he was given 'Daiko-fusho kokushi,' a posthumous Buddhist name, by Emperor Gomizunoo on May 18. On the following day, May 19, he put down yuige (poem for teachings to disciples and posterity written by a dying venerable priest) before entering nirvana (he passed away). He was eighty-two years old.

He was also well-known as a great calligrapher, one of the best three calligraphers of Obaku, along with MOKUAN Shoto and Sokuhinyoitsu.

Analects and Writings

"Ingen-zenji-goroku" (Analects of Ingen), sixteen volumes
"Fusho-kokushi koroku" (Analects of Ingen), thirty volumes
"Obaku Ingen Zenji Untoshu" (Collection of Ingen's Poem) one volume
"Gukaihogi" (disciplines and precepts), one volume
"Obakusan-jishi" (History of Manpuku-ji on Mt. Obaku), one volume
"Obaku-shingi" (Obaku code of conduct)


The number of teaching successors to Ingen was twenty-three including three Japanese priests.



ERIN Shoki

RYOKEI Shosen (the former chief priest of Myosin-ji Temple)


DAIBI Shozen

Dokusho Shoen


Ingen-mame (隠元豆) (Common bean)

Ingen-mame,' which was named after Ingen who brought to Japan, is a farm product of a pea family native to Latin America. After it was introduced to Europe, it traveled across the Eurasian Continent to China and then was imported to Japan. However, some views explain that Ingen's bean was 'fuji-mame' (hyacinth-bean) as we know them today, and people call fuji-mame 'Ingen-mame' in the Kansai region (around Kyoto and Osaka Prefectures).

[Original Japanese]