Imperial Prince and Monk Ryojun (良純入道親王)

Imperial Prince and Monk Ryojun (January 18, 1604 - August 27, 1669) was a member of the Imperial family of the early Edo Period. He was the eighth prince of Emperor Goyozei, and his mother was Nashi no suke (lady-in-waiting) Tomoko NIWATA, who was the daughter of Shigetomo NIWATA, Gon no Dainagon (provisional major counsellor). Earlier in his childhood, he was identified as Imperial Prince Naosuke because he was an adopted child of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. He was the first Monzeki (head priest of a temple, formerly led by the founder of a sect) of Chion-in Temple.

His common name was Hachinomiya. When he was five years old, he was selected to be the Monzeki of Chion-in Temple and entered the temple. However, his entry into the priesthood was postponed as he was still so young. In 1614, he was given title of Prince by Imperial decree, and was named Naosuke. The next year, in 1615, he became the adopted child of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. On October 24, 1619, at the age of 16, he entered into the priesthood (Tokudo) lead by Manyo Sonsho as Kaishi (the priest who imparts the Buddhist commandments), and became a Ryojun.

However, on December 21, 1643, he was suddenly exiled to Tenmoku-zan Mountain of Kai Province. There are various theories on the reason for his exile, one theory says he had a conflict with the temple followers about the operation of the temple, another says his misconduct during a drunken frenzy or another says he criticized the Edo Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) for intervening with the Imperial Court. However, all agreed with the view of Ryojun being dissatisfied with Monzeki's rank being just a figurehead, and also pressure from the Edo Bakufu. Later, he was transferred to and incarcerated in Koin-ji Temple in Kofu Province (Shimosekisuiji-machi, Kofu City).

In 1659, he was returned to Kyoto by Imperial sanction. However, he could not enter into Chion-in Temple so he resided at Sennyu-ji Temple instead. Later, he left the priesthood in Kitano (Kyoto City), and spent a reclusive life under the a pseudonym Ishinan.

He passed away at the age of 67, and was buried at Sennyu-ji Temple. He was given the posthumous Buddhist name of "Senrensha Gyoyoshin'a-jizai Ryoshodaisojo." At the hundredth anniversary of his death in 1768, he was given the new posthumous Buddhist name of "Mugekoingu Ryojun Daiosho" in order to restore his honor.

[Original Japanese]