Anrakuan Sakuden (安楽庵策伝)

Sakuden ANRAKUAN (1554 - February 7, 1642) was a Jodo (Pure Land) sect monk who lived from the Azuchi-Momoyama period into the beginning of the Edo period. His father's name was Sadachika KANAMORI. Nagachika KANAMORI, commander of Takayama-jo Castle in Hida Province, was his older brother. Sakuden is also described as the father of the art of Rakugo (comic storytelling). "Sakuden" is his self-chosen monk-name. His posthumous name was Nikkai and his priestly name was Sumio, while his common use-name was Heidayu HIRABAYASHI.

When still young he took the tonsure and became a monk at Joon-ji Temple in Mino Province, taking Sakudo Bunshuku as his teacher. Thereafter, he moved to Zenrin-ji Temple (specifically, the Eikando hall) in Kyoto and studied under Chizora Hoshuku. During 1573-1592, he made his way into the Chugoku region of Japan, and is said to have founded several temples there, including Daiun-ji Temple in Bizen Province. In 1596, he returned to Joon-ji Temple in Mino Province and became its 25th abbot. In 1613), he became the 55th head of Seigan-ji Temple in Kyoto (and thereby, the chief priest of the Nishiyama-Fukakusa faction of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect), whereupon his friendships with distinguished people of the day substantially increased. Ten years later, in 1623, after receiving Imperial sanction for his involvement in the Shie Incident, he retired to the Chikurinin sub-temple, spending his remaining years at the Anrakuan tea-house.

He was skilled at talking in a humorous manner, inducing laughs even during his sermons, so at the request of Shigemune ITAKURA, Governor-General of Kyoto, he wrote the 'Seisuisho,' a pioneering work in the field of collections of funny stories. Every year in the city of Gifu, site of Joon-ji Temple, where Sakuden took the tonsure and became a monk, the 'Sakuden Great Prize of the All-Japan Student Rakugo Championship' is awarded as the highest prize, using Sakuden's name as the reputed father of Rakugo.

Sakuden was also the founder of the Anrakuan school of the Tea Ceremony, and as such is also widely known for the "Hyakuchinshu," (published 1630) his treatise on tsubaki (Camellia japonica), which records everything he had gathered or observed about tsubaki. Kyoka (comic waka) and haikai (humorous renga) composed by Sakuden are also extant. He enjoyed interactions with literati, members of the warrior class, nobles of the regent and advisor families, and even Imperial princes, while his relationships with Teitoku MATSUNAGA and Enshu KOBORI were especially close.

Explanatory notes
The fact that he was born into the Kanamori clan was established from entries in the family death register at Joon-ji Temple and the cross-generational records of Rissei-ji Temple in Mino Province. Two lingering doubts remain about Sakuden's status as having been born into the Kanamori clan, however: his secular surname of 'HIRABAYASHI' and the Kanamori clan's (Buddhist) denominational affiliation with the Soto sect.