Kakunyo (覚如)

Kakunyo was a Buddhist monk of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) who was active from the end Kamakura period to the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). He was the third head priest of Hongan-ji Temple.

He strived to convert 'Otani-byodo Mausoleum' into a temple (establishment of Hongan-ji Temple) and laid the foundation of a religious order headed by Hongan-ji Temple.

He was effectively the founder of Hongan-ji Temple (Jodo Shinshu).
(Though Shinran is generally believed to be the founder, Shinran didn't have the intention to establish a sect and Kakunyo decided after Hongan-ji Temple was established.)

He was the eldest son of Kakue, a son of Kakushinni who was the youngest daughter of Shinran. His mother was a daughter of a certain Nakahara, Suo no Gon no kami (Provisional Governor of Suo Province). He was a great-grandchild of Shinran.

While writing many books, including, but not limited to "Hoon-ko Shiki" (Buddhist sutra for Hoon-ko (a memorial services for Shinran)), "Hongan-ji Shonin Dene" (Buddhist picture scrolls painted about the life of Shinran), ("Godensho" (description of Honganji Shonin Denne (Buddhist picture scrolls painted about the life of Shinran)), "Shinran Dene"), "Shuji Sho" ("On Embracing the Name"), "Kuden Sho" ("What Shinran Taught") and "Gaija Sho" ("Setting the Claims Straight"), he constantly asserted that Shinran was the legitimate successor of Honen and that the religious order of Hongan-ji should have a leading role in Jodo Shinshu.


Age used in the following description is kazoedoshi (an ordinal number that is used as "in one's (an ordinal number) year"). In order to ensure consistency with those of his books, dates will be shown based on a lunar calendar (except for the year, month and day of birth and death) and gengo (an era name) during the period of Northern and Southern Courts (Japan) will be shown by those of the Northern Court.


He was born in Kyoto on February 16, 1271.
His child name was 'Kosen.'

He lost his mother in 1272.

He was then five years old in 1274. Around that time, he started to aspire to enter into priesthood.

In 1277, he studied holy writings, both home and foreign, under Jishinbo Chokai, who resided at a neighboring temple, and was instructed 'Shoshin-shu' of Tendai Sect.

In 1282 (or 1284), he became a disciple of Saisho Hoin Shuto, a monk of Enryaku-ji Temple. He learned the doctrine of Tendai Sect.

In 1283, he became a disciple of Shinsho, a monk of Kofuku-ji Temple Ichijo-in, and learned the doctrine of Hosso Sect. After the death of Shinsho, he further studied under Kakusho, a disciple of Shinsho.

During that time, he studied San-lun Teachings under Jishobo Ryonen who was engaged in syncretic study of all eight Buddhism teachings.

Tokudo (entering the Buddhist priesthood)

In 1286, he entered the Buddhist priesthood and received Buddhist precepts at Kofuku-ji Temple Ichijo-in in Nara and thereafter, he was called 'Kakunyobo Soshu' and he further studied under Gyokaku.

In 1287, he learned Shugi (the teachings of Honen and Shinran) from Nyoshin (Shinran's grandchild) who came to Kyoto for attending Shinran's Shogetsuki (anniversary of the month of one's death).
(since then, he learned Shugi whenever Nyoshin came to Kyoto.)

In 1288, he learned Shugi from Yuien when Yuien came to Kyoto.

On June 4, 1290 (old lunar calendar), Zonkaku (Sonkaku), his eldest son, was born.

Since this year, he visited Shinran's remains in Togoku (Kanto region) along with his father Kakue and Joga Hogen and was taught by Shinran's disciples.

Jikaku (self-awakening)

In 1294, he wrote "Hoon-ko Shiki" (Hoon-ko Shiki, Shikimon) on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of Shinran's death (the origin of Hoon-ko). Since around that time, he became conscious that he was the successor of Shinran.

In 1295, he wrote "Hongan-ji Shonin Dene" (first version 'Jusandan' (13 chapters)). He got Joga Hogen to draw pictures.
(the initial one was a picture scroll)

In 1299, Kakue became sick.

In 1301, he wrote "Shui-Kotoku Den," in which he emphasized that Shinran was the successor of Honen.

Conflict with Yuizen

In 1306, Yuizen robbed Kakue of the key of Otani Byodo Mausoleum and occupied it. Kakunyo and Kakue evacuated to the house of Kakunyo's wife's parents located at Sanjo Suzaku.

In 1307, Kakue died at Sanjo Suzaku.

In July, 1309, it was decided by Shoren-in Temple that Rusushiki of Otani Byodo Mausoleum should be succeeded by Kakunyo. Yuizen, who was defeated, destroyed Otani Byodo Mausoleum thoroughly, took Mieizo (wooden statue of Shinran) as well as a portion of Shinran's remains and ran away to Kamakura.
(Yuizen Incident was concluded.)

However, Togoku Monto (believers in Kanto region) didn't unconditionally admit Kakunyo as the successor because they didn't like that the successor of Rusushiki of Otani Byodo Mausoleum was limited to a person who was related by birth. In the face of such a situation, he was forced to write a petition consisting of 12 clauses (as of July 26 in the same year) on the premise of his inauguration as Rusushiki. Triggered by the above incident, he realized the limitation in the weak position of Rusushiki and started to think of the conversion of 'Otani Byodo Mausoleum' into a temple.

In 1310, he went to the Kanto region for the purpose of soliciting contributions and petitioning believers for approving his inauguration as Rusushiki. After a half year of petitioning, his inauguration was approved and he formally succeeded the position of Rusushiki.

In 1311, he reconstructed Mieizo and Ei-do Hall (a hall dedicated to sect's founder) on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of Shinran's death.

Though he hung out in 1312 the frame of 'Senju-ji Temple' at 'Otani Byodo Mausoleum (Otani Ei-do)) on the advice of Hochi of Shoren-in Temple, he later removed it because of the objection by Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei. (Some say that the origin of the temple name 'Senju-ji Temple Hon-ji Senju-ji Temple' derives from the fact that Hochi hung out this frame at Nyorai-do hall in Takada.)

In 1314, he handed over the position of Rusushiki to Zonkaku, his eldest son, and entered into a secluded life at Ichijo Omiya due to his own illness as well as with the aim of making the succession of Rusushiki by a bloodline a fait accompli.

In 1321, he converted 'Otani Byodo Mausoleum' into a temple and named it 'Hongan-ji Temple' (the establishment of Hongan-ji Temple). In the wake of conversion to a temple, Bettoshoku (a chief administrator of a temple) was created by combining the role of Rusushiki and Jujishoku (a resident head of a temple).

Gizetsu (severing the connection)

In 1322, he severed his relations with Zonkaku and was reinstated in Bettoshoku because of a conflict of opinion concerning the succession of Rusushiki by a bloodline and the attitude toward Togoku Monto.

In 1326, he wrote "Shuji Sho."

A bloodline of three generations

In 1331, he wrote "Kuden Sho" in which he declared 'a bloodline of three generations' and insisted his succession of Hoto (the light of Buddhism). (Religious line: Honen=>Shinran=>Nyoshin=>Kakunyo, bloodline: Shinran=>Kakushinni=>Kakue=>Kakunyo) He defined himself as the third head priest of Hongan-ji Temple.
(Shinran: the founder of Hongan-ji Temple , Nyoshin: the second head priest of Hongan-ji Temple)

In 1332, he went to Oami (Furudono-machi, Shirakawa-gun, Fukushima Prefecture) in Mutsu Province in order to preach at the memorial service for the 32nd anniversary of Nyoshin's death. Taking this opportunity, he convinced 20-odd Togoku Monto to admit that he was the legitimate inheritor of sect's doctrine as well as the successor of Hoto and got them to sign their names.

In 1336, he evacuated to Omi Uriuzu, where Zonkaku resided, in order to keep away from the war initiated by Takauji ASHIKAGA. Hongan-ji Temple was burnt down by the fires of war. "Hongan-ji Shonin Dene" (first version) was lost.

In 1337, he returned to Kyoto and resided at Nishiyama Kuon-ji Temple. He wrote "Hongan Sho" and "Gaija Sho."

In 1338, he absolved Zonkaku of gizetsu and handed over Bettoshoku to him through the mediation of Gutotsu of Omi Uriuzu.

In 1340, he wrote "Gangan Sho."

Another gizetsu

In 1342, he again severed his relations with Zonkaku and was reinstated in Bettoshoku.

In 1343, he wrote "Saiyo Sho." He supplemented "Hongan-ji Shonin Dene" ("Godensho") and made it a book consisting of 15 chapters (Koeibon (a book written in Koei era)). He got Enjuku (a son of Joga Hogen) and his disciple Soshun to draw "Goeden."
(For worshippers' convenience sake, words and pictures were separately compiled in "Godensho" and "Goeden" respectively.)

In 1350, he absolved Zonkaku of gizetsu.
(He once had refused.)
He wrote a letter stating that he would get Zennyo, a son of his second son Jukaku, to succeed Bettoshoku.

Ojo (death)

On February 23, 1351, he died in his 82nd year. He was buried at Kennin-ji Temple.

[Original Japanese]