While he entered the Buddhist priesthood on Mt. Hiei and studied Tendai teachings, he then aspired to study Zen and journeyed to China in 1171 together with a disciple called 金慶
He received the teachings of the renowned Zen Buddhist Priest Eon at Reinji Temple (Ling-yin Temple), Hangzhou, studying Zen and receiving the certification of his teacher before returning to Japan and settling at Mt. Hiei. Even after returning to Japan he continued to send tokens of his gratitude and letters to Priest Eon. According to one legend, when Emperor Takakura invited Kakua to the Imperial court to explain Zen, Kakua replied with one note of a flute, and it is said the Emperor did not understand.