Socho (宗長)

Socho (1448 - April 11, 1532) was a renga (linked-verse) poet of the late Muromachi period. His pen name was Saiokuken. He was from Shimada, Suruga Province (present-day Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture). He was born as the son of a blacksmith, Yoshisuke GOJO.

He became a Buddhist monk in 1465 and later served Yoshitada IMAGAWA, but after Yoshitada's death in battle, he left Suruga and went to Kyoto. He studied renga under Sogi, and participated in Minase Sangin Hyakuin (One Hundred Stanzas by Three Poets at Minase) in 1488, Yuyama Sangin Hyakuin (One Hundred Stanzas by Three Poets at Yuyama) in 1491, amongst others. He practiced Zen Buddhism under Sojun IKKYU of Daitoku-ji Temple, living by Shinjuan in Daitoku-ji Temple, and after Sojun passed away, he lived near a kannabi (a place serving as a residence to a god), in Shuonan in Takigi village, Yamashiro Province (present-day Kyotanabe City, Kyoto Prefecture) and prayed for the repose of Sojun's soul. In 1496, he went back to Suruga, and served Ujichika IMAGAWA. In 1502, hearing the news of Sogi's fall at Hakone Yumoto, he went to care for him on his deathbed. After Sogi's death, he became the leader of the renga world. Also, he had many influential warlords and court nobles as his associates, such as Sanetaka SANJONISHI, Takakuni HOSOKAWA, Yoshioki OUCHI and Fusayoshi UESUGI, and is said to have been a diplomatic adviser to the Imagawa clan. In his later years, he built the Saiokuken (present-day Saioku-ji Temple)at Izumigaya at the foot of Mt. Utsuno in Totomi Province with the help of Yasumoto SAITO, travelling between there and Kyoto, and was also involved in building the gate of Daitoku-ji Temple.

He was one who advised "More haste, less speed."

His representative works are the collection of renga stanzas 'Nachigomori' (Secluded at Nachi); the diaries 'Socho shuki' (The Journal of Socho) and 'Socho nikki' (The Diary of Socho), as well as 'Azumaji no tsuto' (Souvenir of the Eastland), 'Utsunoyama no ki' (Record of Utsunoyama), and 'Sogi shuen ki' (A Record of Sogi's Passing).

[Original Japanese]