Taicho (泰澄)

Taicho (July 20, 682 - April 20, 767) was a shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts) priest who lived during the Nara period. He was born in Asozu, Echizen Province. He was the second son of Yasuzumi MIKAMI. He is believed to have opened Mt. Hakusan in Kaga Province (then Echizen Province). He was called Koshi no Odoko.

According to "Taicho-osho-den" (Biography of Priest Taicho) compiled at a later time, Taicho climbed Mt. Ochi at the age of 14 for training while praying to Eleven-faced Kannon (Goddess of Mercy). He was assigned Hoshi (Buddhist priest) for keeping the nation tranquil by Emperor Monmu in 702 and felt the existence of Myori-daibosatsu (Myori Bodhisattva) on Mt. Hakusan in Kaga Province in 717. Taicho prayed for the healing of the ill Emperor Gensho in 722 and was granted the priestly name of Jinyu-zenji for his achievement. It is believed that he was granted the title of Daiosho (the highest rank of Buddhist priest) for his success in suppressing smallpox that spread in 737.