Aoki Shigekane (青木重兼)

Shigekane AOKI (January 27, 1607 - October14, 1682) was the second lord of the Asada domain, Settsu Province.

He was the eldest son of Hatamoto (direct retainers of the bakufu, which is a form of Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) Yoshinao AOKI (fourth younger brother of the first lord of the domain, Kazushige AOKI). His mother was from the Seki clan. His lawful wife was Tadatoshi SAKAI's adopted daughter (the daughter of Tadasue SAKAI). He had a daughter named Man (the lawful wife of Shigemasa AOKI). He had two adopted children, Yoshikazu AOKI (the third son of Tadakatsu SAKAI (the lord of the Obama domain of Wakasa Province) but died young), and Shigemasa AOKI. His official court rank was Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), Kai no kuni no Kami (officer in charge of regional administration in Kai). His go (pen name) was Tanzan.

He was born in the Himeji domain, Harima Province in 1606. Kazushige, the first lord of the domain, did not have an heir, and Masashige AOKI, who was adopted to be the heir, was of poor health and was not considered. Therefore, Shigekane became the adoptive heir and succeeded as the head of family when Kazushige retired in 1619.

He was very capable as the lord of the domain and managed to consolidate the foundation of the domain duties by encouraging literary and military arts, and by prioritizing good government in civil administration.

He accompanied Iemitsu TOKUGAWA's visit to Kyoto in 1641, and served as "Zoei Buguyo" (Temple Administrator) of Kyoto Omuro Ninna-ji Temple, and rendered distinguished service there. During the 10-year stay in Kyoto, he came to practice Zen under Reverend Gudo of Myoshin-ji Temple, as he temporary resided close to Myoshin-ji Temple in Hanazono (Kyoto City).

In 1663, he also served as bugyo (magistrate) for the restoration of Tada-in Temple in Kawabe County, Settsu Province (Hyogo Prefecture).

However in 1656, his life had changed ever since meeting Ingen Ryuki (Yinyuan Longqi), the Zenji (Master of Zen Buddhism) who came over from China, at Fumon-ji Temple (Takatsuki City) in Settsu Province.

In March 1659, he founded Butsunichi-ji Temple at the foot of Mt. Maya, and invited Ingen as kaisan (a founder of temple as the first chief priest). The next year, he invited Ingen's apprentice, ERIN Shoki, as the second chief priest. In 1667, Daiyu Hoden (main hall) of Manpuku-ji Temple was erected, and once again, Shigekane served as "Zoei Buguyo."

Shigekane gradually devoted himself to Buddhist priesthood, and finally decided to enter into priesthood to become a disciple. As such, he abandoned the family estate of Asada Domain and hurriedly entered into priesthood. In January 26, 1673, Shigekane transferred the position of the head of the family to the adopted son-in-law Shigemasa, as he only had a daughter, and left everything to him. He entered into priesthood in 1679 under Shoto MOKUAN, who was the apprentice of Ingen and the second chief priest of Manpuku-ji Temple.

Later on, Shigekane founded Daikakuzan Hoko-ji Temple in Kawabe-gun and erected the Shichidogaran (seven major structures in a temple compound) there. After inviting Mokuan for kaisan, he became the second chief priest and devotedly served in Buddhist priesthood. His somyo (posthumous Buddhist name) was Tanzan Shosei. He passed away on October 14, 1682 at the age of 77 in Asada. His homyo (a name given to a person who enters the Buddhist priesthood) was Chikuganinden Tanzan Shosei Daiosho. Graveyard: Hoko-ji Temple in Sueyoshi, Sanda City. He also used go (pen names) such as Tanpo, Nimoku and Fujikoji.

[Original Japanese]