Bencho (弁長)

Bencho (June 27, 1162 - March 23, 1238) was a Buddhist monk in the Jodo Sect from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period. His father was Norishige FURUKAWA. His azana (adult males nickname) was Bena. His priest name was Shoko-bo. Bencho came from Kazuki in Chikuzen Province (present, Yahatanishi-ku Ward, Kitakyushu City in Fukuoka Prefecture). He was considered as the founder of the Chinzei school.

Bencho entered the priesthood in 1168 and studied Buddhism on Mt. Hiei, and in 1175, he was given vows to follow jukai (precepts) at the Buddhist ordination platform called Kaidan in the Kanzeon-ji Temple and became a monk in the Tendai Sect. In 1197, however, he seceded from the sect and became a disciple of Honen. Afterwards, he returned to his homeland, Chikuzen Province, and founded Nenbutsu Dojo (Buddhist invocation training halls for monks) in Chikugo Province and Higo Province. Bencho built the Zendo-ji Temple in Yamamoto in Chikugo Province as a main Dojo for training nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation) in the Kyushu region, and opened the Ojoin Temple in Shirakawa in Higo Province (Kumamoto City) to found the Chinzei School which would form a mainstream of the Jodo Sect.