Ryoen (Tendai sect) (良円 (天台宗))

Ryoen (983 - July 1050) was a Buddhist priest of the Tendai sect during the mid Heian period. He was the illegitimate son of the Udaijin (Minister of the Right) FUJIWARA no Sanesuke.

Concerning his mother, the "Okagami" (The Great Mirror) records that she was one of the ladies engaged in court service, while another theory holds that she was a relative of FUJIWARA no Tomonari, but nothing is known for certain. Perhaps because of his mother's low birth, he was not chosen to be the successor to the Ononomiya family, so in 989, at the age of seven, he was entrusted to the care of the Tendai-sect priest Keien (Kyoen) of Enryaku-ji Temple (who was also Sanesuke's maternal uncle). Thereafter, he took the tonsure (i.e., became a priest) and was appointed a naigu (low-ranking priest serving at court). In 1015, Keien, now a Daisojo (a priest of the highest rank in the highest managerial position), submitted a recommendation on the occasion of his own retirement that Ryoen be appointed a Risshi (the third rank of priest following Sojo and Sozu), but because Keien was not on good terms with the powerful FUJIWARA no Michinaga, Michinaga opposed this move and thus it did not happen. When the same request was resubmitted four years later they did obtain FUJIWARA no Yorimichi's permission, but because Michinaga was still against it, once again Ryoen could not secure a promotion. In the missive detailing Sanesuke's punishment drafted on January 12, 1020, the following statement was included, in an attempt to make FUJIWARA no Chiko, Ryoen's paternal younger half-sister, his heir: 'Children who are priests and laymen shall in no case be able to take his place,' and this 'priests and laymen' is thought to refer to Ryoen (the priest) and Sanesuke's adopted heir, FUJIWARA no Sukehira (the layman). In 1028, after Michinaga died, Ryoen at last became a Gon no Risshi (a provisional rank in the lowest managerial position), and the following year became betto (chief priest) of Tohoku-in subtemple at Hosho-ji Temple. And then, in 1033, he was appointed a Gon no Shozozu (a provisional junior rank in the second highest managerial position). Yet in 1038, once Myoson of Onjo-ji Temple became the Tendai-zasu (the highest post of Tendai sect), the "sansoron" (the mountain debate) broke out; Ryoen, who was expected by Yorimichi to persuade the priests residing in Enryaku-ji Temple, was defeated in the debate, and what's worse, the following year he was blamed for gathering the clergy around him and inciting a crowd of 3000 priests to march on Yorimichi's Takakura palace and stage a goso (forceful protest). Due to these setbacks, he actually ended up losing his power and influence, and was still stuck at the rank of Gon no Shozozu when he died.

[Original Japanese]