Renko (蓮綱)

Renko (1450 - December 6, 1531) was a priest of Jodo Shinshu sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) from the mid Muromachi period to the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). He was the third son of Rennyo, the eighth chief priest of Hongan-ji Temple. Renko's real name was Kenyu and his childhood name Koyo. His original name was Genju, later changed to Renko.

When he was a child, he was placed with a temple of Jodoshu sect, but in about 1470, he moved to Kaga Province. Later, he built Shoko-ji Temple in Hasadani of the same province (present-day Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture). In 1476, however, when Rennyo and Masachika TOGASHI, the provincial constable of Kaga Province, came into conflict, Renko joined his father who was then in Yoshizaki Gobo (the first permanently fortified temple, founded by Rennyo in 1471), and left Kaga once. But when he returned to Shoko-ji Temple five years later, he opposed the Togashi clan in cooperation with his young brothers Rengo, who had led Ikko sect's revolt in neighboring Etchu Province, and Rensei, who had stayed in Yoshizaki. In 1488, when Masachika raised an army for subjugation of the revolt, they destroyed the army instead (Revolt of the Chokyo era). While Yasutaka TOGASHI succeeded Masachika as provincial constable, Renko and Rengo effectively became lords of the province and established the 'Two Temples' system. Their father Rennyo harshly criticized this, but they succeeded in stopping the order for punitive expedition by the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), based on a tacit agreement with Shogunal Deputy Masamoto HOSOKAWA. Subsequently, Rennyo and his successor Jitsunyo had Rennyo's children Renko, Rensei and Rengo represent the Shinshu sect in Kaga and lead its people, in an effort to establish a system to protect Hongan-ji Temple.

In 1506, they received a request from Masamoto HOSOKAWA and launched a revolt against Sadakage ASAKURA (the ninth head of Echizen Province) but were defeated by the Asakura clan led by Soteki ASAKURA, Kagemoto ASAKURA and Kagezane HORIE, after which Yoshizaki Gobo was destroyed and the believers of Shinshu sect in Echizen were driven out of the province. After that, Renko left the management of Shoko-ji Temple and the teaching of Kaga followers up to his son Renkei and his brother Rengo, respectively, and lived in retirement. However, when Shonyo became the lord of Hongan-ji Temple and his guardian Renjun (the sixth son of Rennyo and maternal grandfather of Shonyo) took a policy of keeping the family under control by the lord, they pursued their policy by appointing Saneaki, Renjun's adopted son-in-law and a chief priest in Chosho-ji Temple, one of Hogan-ji Temple's branch temples, who had been expelled from Echizen by the Asakura clan, as local governor to issue an order to reject the 'Two Temples' system throughout Kaga. In response, Rengo and Renkei staged a revolt to put down the Chosho-ji Temple, insisting that this was against the rules on the clansmen's conformity to the teachings established by Rennyo and Jitsunyo. Informed of this, however, Rengo figured that fighting against Saneaki, deputy head priest, would be a rebellion against the head priest of Hongan-ji Temple, and gave an order to get the followers in the Kinai and Tokai regions to go to the rescue of the Chosho-ji Temple. When the followers in Kaga found this out, they became upset and split, and in August, 1531, the Shoko-ji Temple was occupied by the Chosho-ji Temple force, and Renko and his son Renkei ended up in confinement (Daisho Ikki [Big League-Little League War]). Three months later, Renko died at the age of 82 where he was confined, and it is believed by some that on January 5, Renkei, then 49, and his family were also put to death on a charge of attempt to flee. From then on, the Shoko-ji Temple remained abolished until it was allowed restoration within Noto Province in the early Edo period.

[Original Japanese]