Gyohen (行遍)

Gyohen (year of birth and death unknown) was shaso (shrine priest) of Kumano-hayatama-taisha Shrine who did very splendid work from the late Heian period to the early Kamakura period. He is also well known as a poet whose poems were collected in "Shinkokin Wakashu" (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry). He was the sixth son of Yukinori, the nineteenth Kumano betto (title of an official who administered the shrines at Kumano), and his mother was Torii Zenni, the daughter of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi ('Tatsutahara no nyobo'). The first Shogun of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), MINAMOTO no Yoritomo was his maternal cousin.

About the year of birth

It is still unknown, but it is considered that he was born around 1150 from the fact that his third elder brother Gyokai (second elder brother by the same mother, later known as the twenty-second Kumano betto) was born in 1146, and his fourth elder brother Hanmyo (third elder brother by the same mother, later known as the twenty-third Kumano betto). (according to "Three Mountains in Kumano and Kumano betto" by Toshiyuki SAKAMOTO, published by Seibundo Publishing Co., Ltd, 2005)

As a poet

Among classical Japanese scholars, there are two theories about 'Hokkyo Gyohen' in "Shinkokin Wakashu": one is that the Gyohen was onshi (a low-ranking Shinto priest), who was from Kumano and a shaso of Kumano-hayatama-taisha Shrine, while the other is that it was daisojo (a Buddhist priest of the highest order), Gyohen (1181-1264), one of the four chief priests of To-ji Temple, who did remarkable work during the mid-Kamakura period. However, there are many corroborated materials to support the former theory, while there are none to support the latter except a note on Ninsonshi Gyohen about the genealogy of Daigo-Genji (Minamoto clan) collected in "Sonpi Bunmyaku" (a text compiled in the fourteenth century that records the lineages of the aristocracy).

Four poems were collected in the "Shinkokin Wakashu":
The people with whom I was on close terms died one after another, and every time when I wrote sotoba (a narrow wooden plank), my sleeve got wet with my tears. (with Kotobagaki (foreword))
Who made you go out of here so lightheartedly, leaving the traces of the old days in cogon-grass in the garden.
Strangely, the moon disappeared behind a cloud on my way home. I wonder if I stayed too long out of fondness for the good old days and it was far into the night, or our past stories made me cry. (with Kotobagaki)
I wonder if people who are hopeful about the next world and waiting for the future would not lament the time going by.

According to the foreword to the third poem, when Gyohen was young, he studied the art of composing tanka poetry under Saigyo who was leading an ascetic life at Kumano following the custom of shaso or onshi of Kumano Shingu. It is conjectured that he did it between the latter half of the 1160s and the first half of the 1170s.

In 1204, Kumano Gyohen Hokkyo visited FUJIWARA no Teika, one of the selectors of "Shinkokin Wakashu," having a talk with him about Saigyo (1118-1190) and others with nostalgia ("Meigetsuki," July 20, 1204), as a result, four of his poems were selected under the name of 'Hokkyo Gyohen' for "Shinkokin Wakashu."

In 1205, he became hogen (the second highest rank for a Buddhist priests) on the recommendation of his older brother, the 23rd Kumano Betto Hanmyo. ("Meigetsuki" - Chronicles of the Bright Moon) February 10, 1204)

The year of his death is considered to be the early Kamakura period, about 1210. Died at the age of around 48. The highest rank as a priest was hogen.

[Original Japanese]