Shunoku Myoha (春屋妙葩)

Myoha SHUNOKU (1311 - November 9, 1388) was a Zen priest of the Rinzai sect in the Muromachi period. He was trusted by the Muromachi Shogunate and became the chief priest of Tenryu-ji Temple and Rinsei-ji Temple. Chikaku Fumyo Kokushi.

He was born in Kai Province (Yamanashi Prefecture). He vowed to follow the precepts under Soseki MUSO, his maternal uncle. He became the chief priest of Tenryu-ji Temple and advised the Shogunate to build Romon (Sanmon, temple gate) of Nanzen-ji Temple, the first temple of gozan (Zen temples highly ranked by the government), which the Shogunate sponsored. Together with the Monto (followers) of Mt. Hiei, Onjo-ji Temple, which was in conflict with Nanzen-ji Temple, protested against the construction of the Romon, requesting its removal and Myoha's banishment, and this resulted in the conflict becoming a political issue. In 1369, Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, who held the position of kanrei (shogunal deputy), ordered the removal of Romon. Myoha, who opposed Yoriyuki, resigned as the chief priest of Tenryu-ji Temple and retired at Shokoin Temple and later at Unmon-ji Temple in Tango Province. Yoriyuki asked Myoha to see him for reconciliation, but Myoha rejected this, and Yoriyuki stripped Monto of the title of priest. Myoha went back to Kyoto after Yoriyuki fell from power in the Koryaku Coup in 1379, and returned to be the chief priest of Nanzen-ji Temple. Since Myoha had left Tango before Yoriyuki fell from power, he may have been involved in this political change. He was trusted by the third Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, and became the first Soroku (highest-ranking priest of the Gozan, the leader of the Zen sect) on November 27, 1379.

He founded Shokoku-ji Temple and established Gozanha (group of the highest-ranked temples in Zen sect). He published books called Gozanban (literally, Five Mountains Editions). In addition, he fostered many disciples, who played roles as diplomatic counselors in the trade between the Ming Dynasty and Japan.

"Shunoku Myoha Chinzo" (Portrait of Myoha SHUOKU) was written by Mincho KICHIZAN and is in the possession of Kogenin Temple.

[Original Japanese]