Shinen (信円)

Shinen (1153 - January 6, 1225) was a Buddhist priest of Kofuku-ji Temple from the end of the Heian period to the early Kamakura period. He endeavored as betto (the head priest) to revive the temples after Nanto Yakiuchi (the Incident of Heishi (Taira clan)'s army setting fire to the temples in Nanto, southern capital - Nara) and laid the foundation for today's Kofuku-ji Temple. His father was FUJIWARA no Tadamichi. He was paternal half-brother to Kanezane KUJO: Daijo-daijin (the grand minister of state), and Jien: Tendai-zasu (the head priest of the Tendai sect).

He entered Kofuku-ji Temple and studied Dharmalogy of the Hosso Study under Jinpan, Eshin, and Zoshun. He became Homu Daisojo (the head priest of temple affairs) and was appointed betto of Kofuku-ji Temple in 1181, succeeding to monzeki (the priest in charge of a temple where the doctrines of the founder of the sect have been handed down) of both Ichijo-in Temple and Daijo-in Temple, two major Inge (branch temple to support services of the main temple) of the temple. With three other Inge: Ryugeju-in Temple, Zenjo-in Temple, and Kita-in Temple, he filled five positions among five influential Inge of the temple. His appointment to betto took place right after the destruction of the main halls in Kofuku-ji-Temple by Nanto Yakiuchi on January 22, 1181, accompanying the withdrawal of punishments to temples in Nanto by TAIRA no Munemori, who became Toryo (head of the clan) of the Taira clan after TAIRA no Kiyomori died of illness. His term of service lasted for about 10 years, and most of it was spent on matters related to the revival of Kofuku-ji Temple, such as negotiations with Imperial Court, bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and the Fujiwara clan, and also the actual operations of the reconstruction.

In September 1185, when Daibutsu-den Hall (the Great Buddha hall) of Todai-ji Temple held a ceremony for consecrating the newly made great statue of Buddha by inserting the eyes (thereby investing it with a soul), he worked as one of the seven priests who read the invocation at the ceremony, and he also worked for the ceremony to consecrate Daibutsu-den Hall as the officiating priest in 1203. He mixed with Kanezane KUJO very often, who entrusted his son Ryoen to Shinen as a disciple, and offered religious support to the Kujo family with Jien and others.

He was also deeply involved in shugen (mountaineering asceticism) and became betto of Uchiyama Eikyu-ji Temple, one of the temples which constituted a set group of Buddhist priests led by sanju-roku Shodaisendatsu (the 36 head priests of the Tozan school), which belonged to Tozan school of Shugendo (one of Japanese Buddhism), succeeding to his mentor Jinpan; he also held another post of Kinpusan kengyo shoku (a temple administrator in Mt. Kinpu) concurrently through many years until 1208.

He had been on close terms with Jokei, who worked hard for restoration of Kofuku-ji Temple from the aspect of learning of religious doctrines, and Chogen, who devoted himself to the restoration of Todai-ji Temple; especially, the friendship with the former lasted even after they retired.

After he handed over his position of betto to Kakuken who supported him as gon no betto (acting chief) for a long time, monzeki (head post) of Ichijo-in Temple to his disciple Ryoen, and monzeki of Daijo-in Temple to another disciple Jitsuson, respectively, he resigned his post as Homu Daisojo in 1191, and the following year, in 1192, he lived in retirement in Shoryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Bodai where he started its restoration himself, and he came to be called 'bodaisan (Mt. Bodai) sojo (high-ranking Buddhist priest)' or 'bodaisan gobo (a respectful way to call someone in a high position in Buddhism).'

In Shoryaku-ji Temple, he also made efforts to restore the halls which were lost by the fire of Nanto Yakiuchi and keep them in good condition, and is called a restorer of the temple.

[Original Japanese]