Shunjo (俊じょう)

Shunjo (September 6, 1166 - April 25, 1227) was a priest in the former Kamakura period. It is unknown in which clan or family he was born. He was from Higo Province. His azana (popular name) was Gazen. His pseudonym (pen name) was Fukaki. His temple name given from an emperor was Daiko Shobo Kokushi (National Master Daiko Shobo).

In 1183, Shunjo became a priest at the age of 18 and in 1184 he received gusokukai at Kanzeon-ji Temple Dazaifu City. He strongly felt the importance of the precepts of Buddhism and went to China (Southern Sung Dynasty) in 1199. He learned about the Zen sect under Moan Genso of Mt. Kin (Jingshan), the Ritsu sect under Joan Ryoko of Mt. Shimei (Siming Shan) and the Tendai Sect under Hoppo Shuin (Bei-feng zong-yin). Twelve years later, in 1211, he came back to Japan and established Hokkyo-ritsu. Nobufusa UTSUNOMIYA, who became a Buddhist thanks to Shunjo, donated Senyu-ji Temple to him, and Shunjo changed the Chinese characters used for its name and fundraised for the re-construction of the temple. He succeeded in making many people Buddhists, including the Retired Emperor Gotoba, other emperors, court nobles and warriors. He gained almsgiving from them, made the temple goganji (a temple for Imperial Family) by adjusting large and small buildings. After that, Sennyu-ji prospered as a training hall for Yonshu kengaku (learning the four sects of the Ritsu, Mitsu, Zen and Pure Land).

As a calligrapher

When he established Sennyu-ji in Kyoto, he created Sennyu-ji Kanenso (memorandum of intent to ask for donations to revive the temple). His writing and calligraphy were both excellent. In the history of calligraphy, Shunjo's contribution of transplanting a new calligraphy style based on Songs Style to Japanese calligraphy was great and it is said that his writing style was highly evaluated in Sung. Calligraphy of Sennyu-ji Kanenso is, in both character and Koppo, the gyosho-tai (semi-cursive style of writing) of Kozankoku style, which was popular in Sung.

[Original Japanese]