Otani Koei (大谷光瑩)

Koei OTANI was a monk of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) who lived from the Meiji period to the Taisho period.
His homyo (a name given to a person who enters the Buddhist priesthood) (Jodo Shinshu) was 'Gennyo.'
He was the 22nd Hoshu (head priest) of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple. He was the chief abbot of Otani school of Shinshu. He held the title of count.


To maintain accuracy of the calendar and consistency with literary works, the dates are given in Tenpo reki (Tenpo calendar) up to December 2, 1872 (December 31, 1872 in new calendar). From January 1, 1873 and on, the dates are given in the Gregorian calendar (except for dates, months, years of birth).
Although the official name of the head temple is 'Hongan-ji Temple,' it is described as 'Higashi Hongan-ji Temple' for convenience to differentiate from 'Nishi Hongan-ji Temple.'

He was born on July 27, 1852, as the fifth child (fourth son) of Kosho OTANI.

On February 10, 1870, he went to Hokkaido accompanying a hundred and several tens of personnel as the leader of Hokkaido reclamation plan commissioned to Higashi Hongan-ji Temple by the New Meiji Government. On his way to Hokkaido, he organized an enlightenment campaign to raise funds for construction activities and induced immigration to Hokkaido.

On July 7 the same year, he arrived in Hakodate. After giving instructions for reclamation activities including construction of the Hongan-ji Road, he visited Sapporo to inspect the land granted by the Imperial Court.

In September, 1871, he built Higashi Hongan-ji Kansatsu (temple) as the missionary base on the site.

In 1876, he renamed the Kansatsu to Sapporo Betsuin (Sapporo Branch) of Otani school of Shinshu.

From September 1872 to July the following year, he visited European countries to inspect the religious background there to modernize the sect.

On October 7, 1889, he assumed the position of the 22nd Hoshu by the retirement of Gonnyo, Koei's father.

In April, 1895, the ryodo (temple hall) of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple was completed.

In June, 1896, he was granted the rank of count for his achievement in Hokkaido reclamation plan.

In May, 1901, he was satirized on 'the Kokkei shinbun' (satirical newspaper) published by Gaikotsu MIYATAKE.

In November, 1908, he passed his title of Hoshu to his second child, Koen OTANI, and retired.
His Ingo (a title given to a Buddhist) was 'Shogonkoin.'

On February 8, 1923, he died (entered nirvana) at the villa in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. He died at the age of 72 (70 according to the East Asian age reckoning).

In 1934, some of his ashes were buried separately in Hokkai gobyo (mausoleum) in Sapporo City.

[Original Japanese]