Kennyo (顕如)

Kennyo (February 9, 1543 - December 27, 1592) was the 11th head priest of the Hongan-ji Temple. His real name was Kosa. He was the son of the 10th head priest of the temple, Shonyo. His mother was the daughter of Shigenao NIWATA. His wife (or urakata, meaning a nobleman's wife) was Nyoshun-ni, who was the third daughter of Kimiyori SANJO. His children were Kyonyo, Kenson and Junnyo.


He oversaw the most successful period of the sect.

On April 17, 1557, he married Nyoshun-ni, the adopted daughter of Sadayori ROKKAKU. Nyoshun-ni's father was Kimiyori SANJO, but she was adopted by Harumoto HOSOKAWA, and by the time she married had been adopted by Sadayori ROKKAKU. Incidentally, her real sister was Sanjo no kata, Shingen TAKEDA's formal wife.

Even though it was a political marriage, it was a happy one and on Tanabata of 1588, which was the 31st year of their marriage, they composed the following poems to each other.
"For many years, under the unchanged bond of Tanabata, today a long awaited meeting will be held." - Kennyo
"For many years, under the unchanged things of Tanabata, today a rare meeting will be held." - Nyoshun-Ni

During Kennyo's time, the Hongan-ji Temple sect tried to take control of the Ikko uprisings by their followers, which had been in progress since his father's era, while at the same time cultivating alliances with relatives of the shogunal deputy, the Hosokawa family and the Kyo no Kuge, or court nobles. Based at the economically and strategically important Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, they built Hongan-ji school temples mainly in and around Kyoto and acquired power to match the Daimyos (Japanese territorial lords), in what was the sect's heyday.

Nobunaga's Siege

However, since Hongan-ji Temple held these powers outside of the feudal system, Nobunaga ODA (who entered Kyoto in 1568 and was trying to gain control of the city), started to persecute them and others including Enryaku-ji Temple and the Machi-shu, an elite group of merchants and artisans, of Sakai-city. Kennyo decided to fight against Nobunaga, and Hongan-ji Temple entered the war against Oda clan in 1570.
This is called the 'Ishiyama War.'

Kennyo allied with the Shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, who was in conflict with Nobunaga, and made alliances with anti-Oda groups such as the Takeda clan, the Asakura clan, the Asai clan and the Mori clan, joining them in laying siege to Nobunaga, although Kennyo himself remained at Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, attacking Nobunaga by mobilizing peasants, who were closely allied with the Ikko adherents of Saiga, and local groups of followers. However, the siege developed into a war of attrition, and after serious setbacks such as the sudden death of his relative Shingen, from whom he had been hoping for assistance and the defeats by Oda of the alliance powers, such as the Asakura and the Asai, Kennyo came to realize the hardship of continuous war and asked court to be an intermediary for peace. In 1580, Kennyo agreed to the reconciliation conditions submitted by Nobunaga and left the Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, moving to the Sagimori branch temple in the Kii Province. One theory has it that one of the consequences of the Ishiyama War was to delay Nobunaga's eventual domination of the country by 10 years.

Twilight Years

Following the Honnoji Incident, he reconciled with Hideyoshi HASHIBA (later Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI) who, as the successor of Nobunaga, had taken control over Kyoto and in 1585 he moved to the town of Osaka Tenman, built by Hideyoshi based on the layout of the inner precinct of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple. and in 1585 he moved to the town of Osaka Temman, built by Hideyoshi based on the layout of the inner precinct of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple. Furthermore, in 1591, Hideyoshi granted him land for a temple at the corner of Shichijo-dori Avenue and Horikawa-dori Street in Kyoto, and it was here that he revived the Hongan-ji Temple sect.

However, when Kennyo died the following year, it was his third son, Junnyo (an accommodationist) not his eldest son, Kyonyo, a hard-liner who held different opinions from Kennyo regarding Nobunaga at the time of leaving Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, who became the twelfth head priest. (The second son was Kenson of Kosho-ji Temple.)
As conflict continued within the sect, in 1602, after Ieyasu TOKUGAWA donated land for a temple, Kyonyo and his supporters broke away and built East Hongan-ji Temple. As a result, Hongan-ji Temple was split into Junnyo's Hongan-ji Temple (West Hongan-ji Temple) and Kyonyo's Hongan-ji Temple.

[Original Japanese]