Shinkei (心敬)

Shinkei (1406 - May 29, 1475) was a Buddhist priest of the Tendai Sect and also a renga poet (linked-verse poet) in the middle of the Muromachi period. He was also called Renkai, Shinkei (using a different set of Chinese characters, 心恵), or Shinkyo.

He was born in Kii Province. He entered the priesthood when he was still young and trained himself on Mt. Hiei. He lived at the Butchiin of Onjo-ji Temple when he was 44 or 45 years old, assumed the position of the chief priest of Jujushinin Temple near Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, became Gon Daisozu (Associate grade of Daisojo (the highest grade that can be held by one who has reached the second highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests)), and then he was finally appointed to Hoin (the highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests). While he studied under another Buddhist priest called Shotetsu and was known as a poet of the Reizei School, he gradually became a renga poet of the time by for example attending the 'Kitano-sha manku' (10,000 linked verses event at Kitano-jinja Shrine) in 1433.

Based on the Shinkon style (tone of poems seen in "New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese poetry") learned from Shotetsu, Shinkei's work was unique in the way that he placed the importance on close examination of poem subjects and self-preoccupation in poem themes, exhibiting his refined senses in his 'hieyasetaru' (simple and natural) poem style. According to his renga theory, waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and renga training, and Buddhism training were ultimately the same thing, and this theory was emphasized in his important work called "Sasamegoto" (Murmurings) as well as other works such as "Oinokurigoto" (Old man's prattle), and "Hitorigoto" (Solitary ramblings) (1468), and also influenced next-generation renga poets such as Sogi and Kensai INAWASHIRO and a master of tea ceremony Juko MURATA who practiced wabicha (literally, "poverty tea style"; known as the tea ceremony). Avoiding wars, he spent the later stages of his life in Kanto and died at the age of 70.

While he compiled rengashu (renga collections) and kashu (poem collections) such as "Shingyokushu" (New gems collection) and "Shinkei Sozu Juttai Waka" (Priest Shinkei's Waka in Ten Style), he was also one of the renga shichiken (seven sages of renga) whose poems were included in "Chikurinsho" (Bamboo Grove Notes) compiled by Sogi. "Shinsen Tsukubashu" (the newly-selected Tsukubashu) included the largest number of his poems.

[Original Japanese]