Junnyo (准如)

Junnyo (1442 - July 13, 1483) was a monk of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) during the middle to late Muromachi period. He was the eldest son of the eighth head of Hongan-ji Temple, Rennyo. His mother was Ryonyo, who was said to be of a branch family of the Ise clan. His imina (personal name) was Mitsusuke (光助). His childhood name was Mitsutaka (光高). He was the successor of Hongan-ji Temple, but he died of illness before his father, so the ninth head of the temple and his younger brother, Jitsunyo, succeeded in the position.

When Junnyo was born, his father was simply the eldest child born out of wedlock of the seventh head of the Temple, Zonnyo, so the Hongan-ji Temple fell upon bad times and it was just a branch temple of Shoren-in Temple, which was under the umbrella of Enryaku-ji Temple. He lost his mother when he was 14 years old, and he entered into priesthood at age 17 under the supervision of daisojo (a Buddhist priest of the highest order) Jitsusuke (実助); he was able to do so because he was the adopted son of Katsumitsu HINO, who was the Soke (the head family or house) of the Otani family. Jitsusuke had some contacts in the Imperial Palace and Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), so later on he had a significant influence on Junnyo's life.

In 1465, due to a conflict between Rennyo, who had succeeded the Hongan-ji Temple, and Enryaku-ji Temple, which was the main temple, religious persecution occurred during the Kansei era and Otani Hongan-ji Temple was destroyed. In the following year, 1466, although Rennyo decided that Junnyo would be the successor of the temple in the event of an emergency, this decision caused an issue when Rennyo surrendered to Enryaku-ji Temple in the following year. Enryaku-ji Temple demanded that Rennyo retire and that Junnyo should leave the temple, since they were concerned about Junnyo succeeding to Hongan-ji Temple and taking back political power in the future, given Junnyo's connection with the Imperial Palace and Muromachi bakufu. Thus Rennyo had no choice but to accept the demands of the Enryaku-ji Temple (of course, it is obvious that this demand was ignored when Hongan-ji Temple regained its political power).

In 1469, Junnyo persuaded the Onjo-ji Temple, which was declining in power but still strong enough to go against Enryaku-ji Temple, to build Kensho-ji Temple at Otsu Minami Bessho. After Shinran's sozo (founder's statue) was enshrined at Kensho-ji Temple, Junnyo started negotiating as a chief priest with the Imperial Palace and the bakufu in order to control believers (of the Jodo Shinshu Sect of Buddhism) in Kinai (the provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara), as a chief priest to become the representative of his father, Rennyo, who had left Kinai for the propagation of the Hokuriku region. Soon after Rennyo settled in Yoshizaki Gobo, Junnyo frequently visited this place in order to consult on matters of policy.

However, in 1475 when the conflict between the believers of Kaga Province and the shugo (Japanese territorial lord as provincial constable) Masachika TOGASHI became serious, Junnyo went to Yoshizaki and took Rennyo and his family out to Kawachi Province, although Renso SHIMOTSUMA was opposed to it. Rennyo and Junnyo then worked to restore Hongan-ji Temple in Yamashina Ward. In 1481, after Junnyo was involved in the internal problems of the Bukko-ji School, who were in the same Jodo Shinshu, he was made the executive of the believers of the same religious school, such as Kyogo (later renamed Renkyo) in order to be accepted by Hongan-ji Temple. However, at about that time he became ill and died at age 42 in Kensho-ji Temple, so he had no chance to go to Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple, which wasn't completed before 1483.

He was a knowledgeable, broad-minded man who was a good supporter of Rennyo, but it was said that his early death was caused by having too much to drink. He was also known as a good-looking person. When Hongan-ji Temple was declining in power, seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA ordered Junnyo to do 'naked dancing' for fun. Although Junnyo was confused, he performed beautiful dancing in the nude, since he felt he had to follow the order in order to achieve his fervent wish to restore Hongan-ji Temple, and Yoshimasa praised his performance. There was a legend that the above story became very popular, and that consequently Junnyo was asked to do his 'naked dancing' wherever he went, which made him feel embarrassed.

[Original Japanese]