Shonyo (証如)

Shonyo (December 23, 1516 - September 19, 1554) was a priest of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) during the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). He was the 10th head priest of Hongan-ji Temple. His posthumous name was Kokyo. He was a grandson of Rennyo and a son of Ennyo (who was not included among successive head priests because he had died before succession from his father Jitsunyo). His mother was a daughter of Renjun, the sixth son of Rennyo.

In 1525 he became the 10th chief priest of Hongan-ji Temple at the age of 10 due to the death of his grandfather, Jitsunyo, and was placed under the guardianship of Renjun, who was a brother of Jitsunyo and his maternal grandfather. In 1527, in order to promote friendship between the Hongan-ji religious group and the central government and to achieve peace and security, he approached the Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) and became an adopted child of Hisatsune KUJO, a chief adviser to the Emperor.

In 1531, a conflict within the Hongan-ji religious group occurred (it is called the Kyoroku-Tenbun War (Kyoroku-Tenbun Rebellion) including the later incidents until when Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple was burned down), but Syonyo resolved this conflict and made efforts to strengthen the leadership of Hoshu (high priest). The following year (1532), he mobilized his followers to subvert Motonaga Miyoshi at the request of Harumoto HOSOKAWA, who held the post of Kanrei (shogunal deputy); however, in fear of the power held by Hongan-ji Temple, Harumoto attacked and burned down Yamashina Hongan-ji Temple, which was home to the Hongan-ji Temple school at that time, in cooperation with the Nichiren sect groups and Sadayori ROKKAKU (this incident is known as the Tenbun-hokke Riot).

Shyono, who escaped from Yamashina Hongwan-ji Temple, moved to Ishiyama Gobo (branch temple) in Osaka and made Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple the new home of the group. After that, he made peace with Harumoto by making his first son Kennyo marry Nyoenni, an adopted daughter of Harumoto (the youngest daughter of Sadaijin (minister of the left) Kinyori SANJO. Her eldest sister married Harumoto and her second eldest sister married Shingen TAKEDA), and built rapport with the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to mend the relationship with the central government and promote strengthening of the system of Hongan-ji Temple. Having learnt his lesson with the Tenbun-hokke riot, he also ordered followers of the Ikko Ikki (League of the Single-Minded, established by members of Jodo-shinshu) school of Buddhism in various places not to riot without good reason. In 1549 he was given "Sanjurokunin-shu" (Collected Poems of Thirty-six Poets) by Emperor Gonara. Later, in the days of Shonyo's son Kennyo, the book was to have been given to Sakihisa KONOE, the former chief adviser to the emperor who had worked to bring about peace during the Ishiyama War, but he refused to accept it on the grounds that 'a national treasure should not be given away without good reason,' and the book has been in the possession of Hongan-ji Temple as a national treasure ever since.

In addition, during the days of Shonyo, Hongan-ji Temple began to intervene even more actively on behalf of their followers in the Hokuriku region by acting as a mediator in the Kaga Ikko Ikki (an uprising of Ikko sect followers in Kaga), and to strengthen the control of their followers in the region, they built a Gobo in Kanazawa City in 1546, but they did not fully succeed in their aim during Shonyo's lifetime as a result of a conflict with the Asakura clan.

In 1554 he died at the young age of 39, and his eldest son Kennyo succeeded him at the age of 12.