Kyokai (景戒)

Kyokai (aka Keikai; years of birth and death unknown) was a priest at Yakushi-ji Temple, who lived in the Nara period. He is known as the author of Japan's first collection of Buddhist parables known as "Nihon Ryoiki" (more properly, "Nihonkoku genho zenaku ryoiki," a set of three books of Buddhist stories which were written in the late 8th and early 9th century).

His origins are unclear, but there is credence to the theory based on some description in the "Nihon Ryoiki" that he was born in Nagusa no kori (or Nagusa-gun) County in Kii Province and part of the Otomo clan. Furthermore, the "Nihon Ryoiki" includes many narratives about lay priests known as shido-so (individuals calling themselves priests without gaining approval from the provincial authorities), and Kyokai himself had a wife and children and owned a horse, thus living a life as part layman and part priest, and therefore, one theory has it that at some later stage as a shido-so he entered the Buddhist priesthood. He wrote the first draft of the "Nihon Ryoiki" in 787, which he is believed to have edited by integrating materials, which had been gathered over the years, and finally completed in 822. In 795, he was awarded the rank of Dentojui (literally, abiding place [jui] of the transmission of the Light [dento]).

[Original Japanese]