Yishan Yining (一山 一寧, in
Japan Issan Ichinei; before monkhood had Hu as a family name (胡
Hú); born 1247 in Linhai, Taizhou, Zhejiang, China — died
November 28 1317 in Kyoto, Japan) was a
Linji school, and subsequently Rinzai Zen master from Yuan China who rose to prominence in Kamakura Japan.
He was one of the
chief disseminators of Zen Buddhism
among the new militarized nobility of Japan, a calligrapher and a
writer. Mastering a variety of literary genres and being a prolific
teacher, he is mostly remembered as the pioneer of Japanese
recreated in Japan the literary forms of Song
from Zhejiang, Yining
became a monk in childhood in Hongfusi monastery (鴻福寺) and took
full ordination in Puguangsi Monastery (普光寺).
school, then turning to
Chan. After changing a number of tutors, he became the Dharma heir
of Wanji Singmi (頑極行彌, Japanese Gankyoku Gyomi
fourth lineage holder of Mi'an Xianji (1118—1186). Later he became the
abbot of Puji Monastery in the Island of Putuoshan and rose to wide fame as a Buddhist
1299 (during the reign of Temür Khan, Emperor
Chengzong of Yuan) Yuan government
sent him on a diplomatic mission to Japan to restore the relations
with Bakufu government.
On arriving in
he was arrested by the then regent
on charges of spying.
However, soon Sadatoki came to respect his prisoner and set him
Yishan Yinging stayed in Japan to become one of the major Zen
teachers of the Kamakura
Kamakura, he served in monasteries Kenchō-ji, Engaku-ji and Jochi-ji (淨智寺).
the resigned emperor Go-Uda invited him to
Kyoto to become the abbot of Nanzen-ji, the most influential Zen center of the
He is still remembered in this monastery today.
He popularized Zen in the circles of new military aristocracy and,
mastering variety of literary genres ranging from historiography to
poetry, he started the literary orientation of Japanese monkhood to
the standards of Song
China. This added to the standard zazen
practice of Zen
monasteries such ordeals as studies in Confucian canon and writings
of the Song Confucian scholars.
Among his students there werу such key figures of the subsequent
development of Zen as Muso Soseki
and Kokan Shiren
Yishan Yining committed suicide in 1317 after several attempts to
resign from the duties of abbot on grounds of severe illness.
The Japanese Imperial Court granted him the posthumous title
of the Teacher of
State (国师 Kokushi
- 『一山国師語録』 (Analects of Teacher of State Issаn)