About High Priest Tenkai

A famous Tendai-shu (Tendai sect) priest active in the central part of Japan from the end of the Warring States Period to the beginning of the Edo Period.

He was born in Takada, Onuma-gun, Mutsu Province (present-day Takada, Aizu Misato-cho). His father, Funaki Kagemitsu, was a native of the area, and his mother came from the Aizu lord Asina clan. After completing his priesthood at the Tendai sect’s Ryuko-ji temple when he was a child, he traveled extensively to various places to pursue his studies.
Beginning with the Ashina clan that ruled Aizu, she served Takeda Shingen, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hidetada, and Iemitsu, and was a political and religious supporter of the three Tokugawa lords in particular. He devoted himself to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Hieizan (Mt. Hiei), which had burned down, and to the construction of Nikko Toshogu (Nikko Toshogu Shrine).

After his death at the age of 108, he was given the name “Jigen Daishi” by the Imperial Court in honor of his achievements.

The Son of Monju Bodhisattva is born

Tenbun 5th year (1536) / 1 year old

It is said that Tenkai-sama was given to him after his parents prayed to Monjudo, and that he had a very strong desire for knowledge from an early age. His childhood name was Hyotaro.

At the age of 11, he was ordained as a priest at Ryuuko-ji Temple.

Tenbun 15 (1546) / 11 years old

Tenkai-sama began his training toward Buddhahood at the age of eleven at Ryuuko-ji Temple. At Ryuuko-ji, a well-known temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, he became a monk named Zuifu under the guidance of the well-known monk Ben’ei Shunko Hoin. The term “attaining enlightenment” means to leave the secular life and become a monk to practice the Buddhist Way.

To a long journey of training

Tenbun 18 (1549) / 14 years old

At the age of 14, Tenkai-sama left his hometown and traveled around to study not only Buddhism but also Confucianism (an ancient Chinese discipline), history (the study of history), and Yi (divination introduced from ancient China).

He returned to Aizu and became a separate head of Inari-do.

Tensho 1 (1573) / 38 years old

Emperor Tenkai returned to his hometown at the request of Ashina Moriuji, the lord of Aizu, and protected the Inari-do Hall in Kurokawa Castle (now Tsuruga Castle) for nearly ten years. Betto here means to serve as both a priest and a Shinto priest.

Protect Yoshihiro Ashina and go to Hitachi

Tensho 17 (1589) / 54 years old

At the battle of Suriagegahara at the foot of Mt. Bandai, Yoshihiro Asina was defeated by Date Masamune. Tenkai, in his armor, protected Yoshihiro and fell back to the Land of Hitachinoku (northeastern Ibaraki Prefecture).

Tenkai-sama becomes high priest

Genna 2nd year (1616) / 81 years old

After Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun who had believed in the power of Tenkai-sama, died in Sunpu (present-day Shizuoka City), Tenkai-sama became a high priest and became increasingly powerful for the Tokugawa family.

Restoration and Reconstruction of Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt.

Kanei 11 (1634) / 99 years old

Mount Hiei was burned down by Oda Nobunaga. Tenkai asked the third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, to restore the mountain, and the restoration of the mountain began.

Iemitsu took care of him and he died a great death.

Kanei 20th year (1643) / 108 years old

Tenkai-sama passed away at the age of 108, and it is said that the funeral of the high priest to whom the three Tokugawa generations took refuge (deeply believing in Tenkai-sama’s teachings and relying on his power) was very grand.

Achievements and Life of High Priest Tenkai– Historical Chronology –

Tenbun 5th year (1536) / 1 year old
Born in present-day Aizu Misato Town.
His childhood name was Heitaro. His father was Kagemitsu Funaki. Mother is Ashina.
Tenbun 15th year (1546) / Age 11
He followed Ben-ei Sage of Inari-do and entered the Buddhist school at Ryuko-ji Temple, taking the name Zuifu.
Tenbun 18 (1549) / Age 14-26
Traveled extensively during this period. Studied at famous temples of the Tendai and Hosso sects and Ashikaga School.
[Movements in Aizu] - 1553
Moriuji Ashina, the 16th lord of the Aizu domain, stands
[Movements in Aizu] - 1561
Moriuji builds Mukaihaguroyama Castle
Genki 2nd year (1571) / Age 36
After Nobunaga Oda burning of Mt. Hiei, he moved to Kai Province. He takes refuge in Shingen Takeda.
Tenshogen (1573) / Age 38
At Mamoru Ashina request, he returned to Aizu and became the head of Inari-do. I lived here for about 10 years.
[Movement in Japan] - 1573
fall of the Muromachi shogunate
[Movements in Aizu] - 1580
Death of Moriuji Ashina
Tensho 10 (1582) / Age 47
He visited Jinan Zenjo at Tenneiji Temple in Aizu and received Zen teachings.
[Movement in Japan] - 1582
Fall of the Takeda Family / Honnoji Incident
Tensho 17 (1589) / Age 54
The Ashina family was defeated by Date Masamune in the Battle of Suriagehara, and fled to Hitachi to protect the twentieth head Yoshihiro.
[Movements in Aizu] - 1589
Fall of the Aizu Ashina Family / Control of the Date Family
Tensho 18 (1590) / Age 55
He went to Kawagoe Muryoju-ji Temple (later known as Kita-in Temple), where he studied under Gokai-gon, and changed his name to Tenkai.
First meeting with Tokugawa Ieyasu this year.
Keicho era (1596) / Age 61
He inherited the lineage when his master Goukai passed away.
[Movement in Japan] - 1600
Battle of Sekigahara
[Movement in Japan] - 1603
Opening of the Edo shogunate
[Movement in Japan] - 1605
Hidetada Tokugawa becomes the second Shogun.
Keicho 14 (1609) / Age 74
Resident of Mt. Hiei East Tower Nankobo. By imperial order, he preached Buddhism to Emperor Goyozei.
Became Gon Sojo.
Keicho 15 (1610) / Age 75
He held a Tendai roundtable for Ieyasu in Sunpu.
[Movement in Japan] - 1614
winter campaign of the siege of Osaka
[Movement in Japan] - 1615
summer campaign of the siege of Osaka
Genna 2 (1616) / Age 81
Ieyasu is nursed in Sunpu and entrusted with posthumous rites. Ieyasu dies. Ieyasu becomes high priest.
Genna 3 (1617) / Age 82
Ieyasu receives the divine title of Toshateru Daigongen from the Imperial Court. Ieyasu hearse is moved from Mt.
Genna 6 (1620) / Age 85
Hidetada entrusts the high priest with the red seals of the Nikko-zan, Kuno-zan, and Kita-in territories.
[Movement in Japan] - 1623
Tokugawa Iemitsu becomes the third shogun.
Kanei 2 (1625) / 90 years old
Construction of Kan-eiji Temple on Toeizan begins.
Kanei 11(1634)/ 99 years old
He prayed to Iemitsu for the restoration and reconstruction of temples on Mount Hiei.
Kanei 13 (1636) / 101 years old
The reconstruction of Nikko Toshogu Shrine is completed. The Grand Lecture Hall on Mt. Hieizan is rebuilt.
[Movement in Japan] - 1637
Shimabara Rebellion
Kanei 20 (1643) / 108 years old
Sick in bed, he died on October 2.
Gyeonganyuan (1648) / --
He was given the posthumous title of Jigen Daishi by the Imperial Court.

Reference: Ueno Kaneiji Jigen Daishi Chronology

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