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Kokan Shiren Biography | Poet

Kokan Shiren Biography. Read biographical information including facts, poetic works, awards, and the life story and history of Kokan Shiren. This short biogrpahy feature on Kokan Shiren will help you learn about one of the best famous poet poets of all-time.

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Kokan Shiren, 1278–1347), Japanese Rinzai Zen patriarch and celebrated poet in Chinese, was the son of an officer of the palace guard and a mother of the aristocratic Minamoto clan. At age eight he was placed in the charge of the Buddhist priest Hokaku on Mt. Hiei. At age ten he was ordained there, but later began study with the Zen master Kian at the Nanzenji monastery. Kokan Shiren’s talents came to the attention of the Emperor Kameyama. At age seventeen he began extensive Chinese studies. Thus began a long career of travel and the establishment of Zen institutions all across Japan. He became abbot at many of the best Zen establishments. At the end of his life, the emperor Gomurakami conferred upon him the title kokushi or National Teacher. Yet in his writings Kokan showed an aloofness from prestige with a striving for inner freedom. The best of his poetry in Chinese dates from late in his life when he had withdrawn from ecclesiastical affairs. His poetry and essays were collected under the title Saihokushu. He is also credited with other contributions to lexography in his lifetime.