Mansai (Manzei) (満済)

Mansai (Also known as Manzei) (1378 – July 17, 1435) was a Buddhist monk of Daigo-ji Temple (Shingon Sect) from the period of the Northern and Southern Courts through the middle of the Muromachi period. Mansai also went by the title of Hosshinin Jugo (honorary rank next to the three Empresses: Great Empress Dowager, Empress Dowager, and Empress). As a restorer of Daigo-ji Temple, Mansai was compared with the later Gien Jugo in the Momoyama period.

Mansai's father was Juichii (Junior First Rank) Dainagon (grand councilor) Morofuyu IMAKOJI, and Mansai's mother was Shirakawadono who was a daughter of Geni, Bokan (a priest who served for the families of Monzeki (temple formerly led by founder of sect, temple in which resided a member of nobility or imperial family)) Hoin (the highest rank among Buddhist priests) of the Seigoin Temple, and served Nariko HINO, the legal wife of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the third Shogun of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). The Imakoji family, the house where Mansai was born, descended from Yoshifuyu NIJO (a son of Kanpaku Kanemoto NIJO (chief advisor to the Emperor)) and Mansai was the 4th generation grandchild of Kanemoto.

Mansai was adopted by Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, and studied Buddhism under Sanboin Kenshun to come to enter the Buddhist priesthood under Hooin Ryugen. Mansai served as the twenty-fifth monzeki (head priest of the temple, formerly led by the sect founder) of the Sanboin Temple, and also held the post of seventy-fourth zasu (temple head priest) of Daigo-ji Temple from 1395 to 1434, creating a precedent for the monzeki of Sanboin Temple concurrently holding the post of zasu of Daigo-ji Temple. While concurrently holding the two posts, Mansai also served as To-ji choja (the chief abbot of To-ji Temple) and the head priest of Shitenno-ji Temple, and finally rose to Daisojo (head priest of the Buddhist sect) in 1409. In 1428, Mansai was titled Jusango (Also known as Jusangu) which was the first time the monzeki of Sanboin Temple received the title. Mansai was proclaimed Jugo, the title equivalent to the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, and the Empress.

Having the confidence of Yoshimitsu and his sons, the fourth shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA and the sixth shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA, Mansai was deeply involved in the internal politics and diplomacy of the shogunate government and was nicknamed Kokui no saisho (a priest who has influence in politics). Mansai contributed so much to the appointment of Shogun Yoshinori by lot (creating Lottery Shogun) that even Shogun Yoshinori, who was a tyrant, did as Mansai suggested on most occasions, feeling his obligation to Mansai. Getting involved in the corridors of power in the shogunate government, Mansai was cool in assessing the situation and warm in getting on with people, which was appreciated by his contemporaries as 'a loyal retainer of the whole country' ("Kanmon Nikki" (Diary of Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Sadafusa) by Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Sadafusa).

Extant Mansai's diary is called "Mansai Jugo Nikki" (Also known as "Hosshinin Jugo-ki," Diary of Mansai) which was recorded on the back of the guchureki (Japanese Lunisolar calendar) from 1411 through the year Mansai died, and the copies written by Mansai are existent. The diary is now considered as a quite important historical source on the middle of the Muromachi period because Mansai recorded not only prayers as a gojiso of the Muromachi-dono (a priest who protects the public residence of the Shogun) but also the contemporary political circumstances in detail.