Nanpo Shomyo (南浦紹明)

Nanpo Shomyo (1235 - February 17, 1309) was a priest of the Rinzai sect in the Kamakura period. Although the details of his origin are not clear, it is known that Shomyo came from Abe County, Suruga Province. His imina (a given name) spelled 紹明 (pronounced both as Shomyo and Jomin) and his dogo (originally honorific names for high-ranking priests) was Nanpo. His chokushi-go (a name granted by the Imperial Court) was Entsu Daio Kokushi.


As a young boy, Shomyo studied at Takyo-ji Temple in Suruga Province where he was from. In 1249, he practiced Zen under Doryu RANKEI of Kencho-ji Temple in Kamakura. In 1259, he traveled to Sung and took over Ho (dharma) of Kido Chigu. He came back to Japan in 1267 and returned to Kencho-ji Temple. Later, he served as chief priest at Kotoku-ji Temple in Chikuzen Province in 1270 and at Sofuku-ji Temple in Hakata (currently Fukuoka City) in 1272. In 1304, he was invited by the Retired Emperor Gouda to the capital (Kyoto) and got a job at Manju-ji Temple. In 1307, he returned to Kamakura to serve as chief priest of Kencho-ji Temple. He passed away the next year when he was 75 years old. Among his disciples are Shuho Myocho (Daito Kokushi) and Kyoo Unryo.

In 1309, he was posthumously awarded by the Retired Emperor Gouda the Kokushi (literally, "a national teacher" or "an emperor's master")-go of 'Entsu Daio,' which was the first Kokushi-go granted to a zen monk in Japan. Hokei (Buddhist law), starting with Nanpo Shomyo (Daio Kokushi [大応国師]), taken over by Shuho Myocho (Daito Kokushi [大灯国師]) and culminating with Kanzan Egen (関山慧玄), is called 'Otokan' (応灯関) to which the Rinzai sects in Japan today all belong.

[Original Japanese]