Kakukai (覚海)

Kakukai (1142 - September 13, 1223) was a Shingon sect priest from the late Heian period to the early Kamakura period. His priest name was 南勝房 or 南証房. He was also called 和泉法橋. He was originally from Yobu-gun of Tajima Province.

He entered priesthood under Jokai at Godai-ji Temple and went through kanjo (a ceremony to be the successor); however, after the death of his mentor, Jokai, he returned to his home in Tajima Province and served at 与光寺. Later, he went to Mt. Koya, studied under寛秀 and went through Kanjo; thereafter, established 華王院 and diligently studied Buddhism. During this time, he also went through kanjo for Shingon of Zuishin-in Temple in Yamashiro Province and Rocho of the Ishiyama-dera Temple in Omi Province. In 1217, he was appointed Kengyo (the highest title of the official ranks within the Todo-za (the traditional guild for the blind)) in Mt. Koya, and he exerted efforts to resolve the Sakaisoron (boundary dispute) with Mt. Kinpo.

There exists a legend in Mt. Koya that he became a Tengu (long-nosed goblin) to defend Buddhism, and he flew into heaven using the portals of inner gate as wings. One author, Junichiro TANIZAKI, wrote a short story entitled "Kakukai Shoin Tengu ni narukoto" (Priest Kakukai becoming Tengu), based on this legend. There is also folklore stating that freeze-dried bean curd was originated by Kakukai however, there is no validation of this.