Monzeki (Monseki) (門跡)

"Monzeki" or "Monseki" means the formal successor of the founder of a Buddhist sect in Japan.
It means 'Monyo Monryu.'
It is also called Monshu. Since the Kamakura period it has come to mean the high-class temple itself, or in other words the status of the temple, and those temples have come to be called Monzeki temples.


It was in the beginning that Emperor Uda became priest and lived in Ninna-ji Temple (therefore called Omuro-gosho), and came to be called Omuro-Monzeki. Since around the beginning of the Kamakura period, children of the Imperial Family and the sekke (the line of regents and advisers) came to be priests at specific temples. The children had a Shoen (i.e. a manor) and came to take control of accepted temples by political power due to their economic power so that they ultimately came to succeed each monryu. This became a custom, and soon 'Monzeki' itself was changed to mean the title of the specific temples to which people from the 'nobility' succeeded. During the Muromachi period, 'Monzeki,' as the status of a temple, was established so that the post of Monzeki bugyo (shogunate administrator, 門跡奉行) to govern Monzeki temples was assigned by the Muromachi shogunate. Additionally, the Edo shogunate institutionalized the monzeki through the clarification of miya-monzeki (temples headed by imperial princes, 宮門跡), sekke-monzeki (temples headed by the sekke families, 摂家門跡), seiga-monzeki (temples headed by the seiga families, 清華門跡), kubo-monzeki (公方門跡) or buke-monzki (武家門跡, temples headed by military families), jun-monzeki (准門跡) or waki-monzeki (脇門跡), etc.

Monzeki Temples

Tendai sect (Sanmon-ha)
Shoren-in Temple (Awata-gosho)
Sanzenin Temple (Kajii-dono, Kajii Monzeki, Nashimoto Monzeki)
Manshu-in Temple (Takenouchi Monzeki)
Myoho-in Temple
Rinnoji Temple
Jodo-ji Temple
Hongaku-ji Temple
Hoju-ji Temple (Kyoto city)
Myoko-in Temple
Shiga-in Temple
Shogo-in Temple
Shoko-in Temple
Jisso-in Temple
Onjo-ji Temple Enmanin
Byodo-in Temple (double with Jodo-shu)
Joju-in Temple
Nyoi-ji Temple

Shingon sect
(Ninna-ji Temple (Omuro Monzeki)
Daikakuji Temple
Rengeko-in Temple
Daigo-ji Temple Sampo-in
Daigo-ji Temple Kongoo-in
Zuishin-in Temple (Ono Monzeki)
Kaju-ji Temple
Ansho-ji Temple (Kyoto City)
Tonan-in Temple (Nara City)
Jojo-in Temple
Shoho-in Temple
Bodai-in Temple
Kyorei-in Temple
Hosso-shu sect
Kofuku-ji Temple Ichijo-in
Kofuku-ji Temple Daijo-in
Jodo sect
Chion-in Temple
Zenrin-ji Temple (Kyoto City)

Miya-monzeki (宮門跡) or Shinno-monzeki (親王門跡) (temples headed by imperial princes)

The temples in which Hoshinno or Nyudoshinno (i.e. a priestly Imperial Prince) lived as a chief priest.
The thirteen temples of Rinno-ji, Myoho-in, Shogo-in, Shoko-in, Shoren-in, Sanzen-in, Manju-in, Bishamon-do, Enman-in, Ninna-ji, Daikaku-ji, Kaju-ji and Chion-in
They are also called the thirteen monzeki. In fact, only the Imperial Prince could enter the three monzeki of Rinno-ji Temple, Ninna-ko Temple and Daikaku-ji Temple, while children from the sekke could enter the other monzeki.

Sekke Monzeki

This word has been used since around the Muromachi period, and children from the sekke became chief priests. It was not an inherent title of each monzeki temple but instead indicated the descent of the chief priest.


Temples of a status second to Monzeki
Or, a monzeki temple that is subordinate to the other one
It is also called "Waki Monzeki."

Tendaishu-go-monzeki (天台宗五門跡) and Kyoto-go-kashitsu-monzeki (京都五箇室門跡)

Shoren-in Temple, Sanzenin Temple, Bishamon-do, Manju-in Temple and Myoho-in Temple

Daigo-go-monzeki (醍醐五門跡)

Sanpo-in Temple, Hoon-in Temple, Kongoo-in Temple, Risho-in Temple, Muryoju-in Temple

Go-monzeki (the five monzeki)

This is a generic term for Higashi-Hongwan-ji Temple, Nishi-Hongwan-ji Temple, Bukko-ji Temple, Senju-ji Temple and Kosho-ji Temple, which are defined as being second to the monzeki in the Jodo Shinshu sect. They are also called the five Monto (門徒).


The temple of which a princess or a daughter of nobility becomes a chief priest. It is also called Bikuni-gosho or Ama-monzeki.

Daisho-ji Temple (Rinzai sect) Otera-gosho
Hokyo-ji Temple (Rinzai sect) Dodo-gosho
Donge-in Temple (Rinzai sect) Take-no-gosho, Take-gosho
Kosho-in Temple (combining four sects), Tokiwa-gosho
Reigan-ji Temple (Rinzai sect) Tani-goten
Ensho-ji Temple (Rinzai sect) Yamamura-gosho
Rinkyu-ji Temple (Rinzai sect) Otowa-no-gosho
Chugu-ji Temple (Hossorisshu sect (法相律宗)) Ikaruga-goten
Jiju-in Temple (Rinzai sect)
Sanji Chion-ji Temple (Jodo sect) Irie-gosho
Hokkeji Temple (Risshu sect)
Zuiryu-ji Temple (Omihachiman city) (Nichiren sect) Murakumo-gosho
Soji-in Temple (Rinzai sect) Usukumo-gosho
Hoji-in Temple (Rinzai sect) Chiyo-gosho
Honko-in Temple (Tendai sect) Kurodo-gosho

[Original Japanese]