Zonnyo was born to the eldest son of Gyonyo, the 6th head priest of the Hongan-ji Temple, and became a yushi of Kanenobu HIROHASHI under an old Japanese adoption system. Zonnyo succeeded his father, Gyonyo, as the chief priest of the Hongan-ji Temple in 1436. He established a twin temple style called ryodo keishiki with Mieido and Amidado, as seen in the Hongan-ji Temple today. He respected verses, written by Shinran, called "Shoshin nenbutsuge" (Shoshinge), and "three Buddhist verses" called Sanjo wasan, and used them for enlightenment purposes. He greatly influenced the next head priest, Rennyo.
Zonnyo died on July 9, 1457 at the age of 62.