Mugaku Sogen (無学祖元)

Mugaku Sogen (1226 - September 22, 1286) was a priest of the Rinzai Sect of Buddhism who was from Qingyuan Prefecture, Mingzhou (Zhejiang Province) in China, and lived in the Kamakura period. His okurina (posthumous name) was Bukko zenji Enmanjosho kokushi.

He became the founder of the Mugaku school (Bukko school) after naturalizing in Japan. His azana (name other than personal name) was Shigen.


In 1226, he was born in the Kyo family in Qingyuan Province, Mingzhou.

In 1237, he entered into priesthood under Bojian Jujian (Hokkan Kokan) at Jinzu Temple in Hang Zhou City, by order of his brother Chukyo Kaitoku.

In 1240s, he joined Wuzhun Shifan (Bujun Shihan) in Jingshan, and succeeded the tradition.

Around that time, he successively joined Shikkei Shingetsu, Kido Chigu, Mossho Taikan and Kankei Iitsu.

In 1262, he moved to Hakuun-an in Toko.

In 1275, he evacuated from the rule of the Yuan Dynasty to Nengrensi Temple in Wenzhou, and composed "Rinken no Ju" (Poem on Approach of Sword).

There is no space for a cane to put on the ground. It's wonderful that a man is empty, and a law is also empty. The 90cm-long sword of the Yuan soldier should be prized. Even though it is wielded, it is as though it would cut a spring breeze at lightning speed. In 1279, he went to Japan almost as an asylum, in response to the invitation of Tokimune HOJO, the regent of the Kamakura shogunate. In Kamakura, he became the chief priest of the Kencho-ji Temple after Rankei Doryu died.

Warriors of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) including Tokimune had faith in him, which exerted psychological influence on the policies around the time of the Koan War in 1281.

In 1282, he became kaisan (the founder) of the Engaku-ji Temple which Tokimune established for paying respects to the dead at the Mongol Invasion at Japan.

Later, he lived both in Kencho and Engaku, and had an impact on the Rinzai sect in Japan.

In 1286, he died at Kencho-ji Temple. His grave is there.


Bukko Kokushi Goroku (Teachings of Bukko Kokushi)


Koho Kennichi and Kian Soen. Muso Soseki, who would become the mainstream of the Gozan school, was a disciple of Koho.

Major works

Choraku-ji Ichio ni Atauru no Gego' (Admiration for Ichio of Choraku-ji) (National Treasure) at Sokoku-ji Temple in Kyoto (reserved at Jotenkaku Museum)
The eulogy of 'Rokuso Eno-zu' (Painting of Eno, the sixth leader) (National Important Cultural Property) at Masaki Art Museum in Osaka