Kusuba Sainin (楠葉西忍)

Sainin KUSUBA (1395 - March 18, 1486) was a merchant who lived in the Muromachi Period. His father was a foreigner named "Hijiri". His childhood name was Musuru. His unofficial name was Tenji, and Sainin was the name he took after he entered the priesthood. He originally used "Tenjiku" as his surname.

His father, who was a foreigner possibly from India, Java or Arabia, came to Japan as a merchant in the days of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA and lived in Shokoku-ji Temple, Kyoto, under the aegis of Chushin ZEKKAI. Then he married a woman from Kuzuha (an area near today's Kuzuha Station, Hirakata City, Osaka Prefecture, in Kawachi Province) and had Sainin as their son. Sainin later took Kuzuha as his surname because it was where his mother was born and raised. They first settled at Karasuma, Sanjobomon Alley, Kyoto, and his father was known to be a man of high virtue, but because he incurred the displeasure of the then Seii Taishogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA (for unknown reasons), he and his family moved to Tatsuno, Yamato Province, and served Daijo-in, Kofuku-ji Temple.

After his father died, he married Inui, sister of one of the priests of Daijo-in, Munenobu JITSUDANBO. Inui gave birth to a son, their first child, named Mototsugu, in 1429. Thereafter, he and his wife had two more boys and two girls. In 1432, he sailed to Ming Dynasty China aboard an envoy ship. In 1453, on his second trip to China, he served as a government official aboard a ship jointly arranged by Tonomine-dera and Hase-dera Temples, both branch temples of Kofuku-ji Temple, and had his son Mototsugu also join the crew. He went up to the capital Beijing via Nanjing and worked directly in the trade of copper, raw silk and Ming coins.

His trading activities were reported to Kofuku-ji Temple after their return and put on record in detail in such documents as "Daijoin jisha zojiki (Miscellaneous Records of the Daijo Temple and Shrine)" and the "Tosen Nikki" (lit. "Tosen Journal") by Jinson of Daijo-in, which serve as valuable historical data to describe the actual activities of trading between two countries in those days.

In his later years, he lived in what is today Yamatofuruichi city, and died in 1486 at the age of 92.