Kokan Shiren (虎関師錬)

Kokan Shiren (1278 - August 11, 1346) was a Rinzai Sect Buddhist monk who lived during the latter part of the Kamakura period and the Northern and Southern Courts period. His father was FUJIWARA no Sakingo (captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) no Koi (commissioned officer). He was born in Kyoto. His posthumous Buddhist name was Hongaku Kokushi.

He became the disciple of Rinzai Sect Shoichi School monk Tozan Tansho at age 8 and practiced Zen before going on to practice under Kian Soen and Tokei Tokugo after Tozan's death. In 1307, he visited Issan Ichinei of Kencho-ji Temple, which led him to write 'Genkoshakusho' (History of Buddhism of the Genko era) in 1322. He also studied esoteric Buddhism at Ninna-ji Temple and Daigo-ji Temple as well as practicing under Mui Shogen and Yakuo Tokken of Kamakura. In 1339, he became chief priest of Nanzen-ji Temple but left for the Kaizo-in sub-temple of Tofuku-ji Temple in 1341 before being granted the title Kokushi by Emperor Gomurakami in 1342. Kokan Shiren was devoted to a life of study and gained a vast knowledge; studying 'Wen Xuan' ('Monzen' in Japanese) from SUGAWARA no Arisuke and the art of divination from Arifusa ROKUJO. He passed away aged 69 in 1346.