Joe (定恵)

Joe (writes; 定恵) (643 - Feb. 2, 666) was a scholar monk in the Asuka period. His name is written alternatively as 定慧 or 貞恵 as well. His father was NAKATOMI no Kamatari (FUJIWARA no Kamatari).
His mother was Yoshiko-no-iratsume, the daughter of KURUMAMOCHI-kuniko
Previous to entering into Buddhist priesthood, his secular name was 'NAKATOMI no Mahito' and had a brother named FUJIWARA no Fuhito.

In May 653, he traveled to Tang China along with the Japanese envoys. He settled at the Enchi training hall at Kaitokubo in Changan and studied under the master scholar Jintai. He later traveled around and acquired information on the Buddhist scriptures and other apocryphal writings. He returned to Japan in September 665, traveling through Baekje in the Korean Peninsula but died in December of the same year (at Ohara, Asuka Village, Takaichi County, Nara Prefecture). The monk Doken of Goguryeo wrote an obituary for Joe.

The Nakatomi clan from which the Fujiwara clan emerged had been involved in religious affairs and had produced strong opponents of Introduction of Buddhism, such as NAKATOMI no Kamako and NAKATOMI no Katsumi. With his father Kamatari a senior retainer in the Imperial Court at that time, the fact that his eldest son entered into Buddhist priesthood was a scandal unheard of in the past, considering that the fervently Buddhist Soga clan did not have any Buddhist priests in the clan. There are many theories regarding this, such as there is a mystery related to Joe's birth, or being priest gained him a priority to take part in the mission to Tang, however the argument still has not met a settlement.

Historical biography

Biography of Joe, Toshi Kaden (Biographies of the Fujiwara clan)

[Original Japanese]