Kokai (Buddhist priest) (公海 (僧))

Kokai (January 29, 1608 – November 22, 1695) was a Buddhist priest of the Tendai Sect in the early part of the Edo period. His father was Tadanaga KAZANIN. Subsequent to the passing of his teacher Tenkai, Kokai succeeded him as the chief priest of Mt. Nikko.

In 1620, Kokai became a pupil of Tenkai Sojo (a high-ranking Buddhist priest) who was referred to as Kokui no Saisho (a priest who has influence in politics). Upon the passing of Tenkai in 1643, Kokai, residing at Kanei-ji Temple on Mt. Toei, carried on Tenkai's dharma and by placing under his control Mt. Hiei the Grand Head Temple of the Tendai Sect as well as Mt. Nikko where the Nikko Toshogu Shrine dedicated to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was located, took the helm of the entire Tendai Sect. In 1647, Kokai was appointed as Sojo and in 1648, the following year, assumed the position of daisojo (a Buddhist priest of the highest order). Later on, Kokai turned the position of administrator of the three major shrines and temples over to Cloistered Imperial Prince Shucho. Carrying out the wishes of Tenkai, Kokai restored Yamashina Izumo-ji Temple.

[Original Japanese]