Jien

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Jien
Hyakuninisshu 095.jpg
Jien in the Hyakunin Isshu.
Born May 17, 1155
Kyoto
Died October 28, 1225(1225-10-28) (aged 70)
Omi (now Shiga)
Occupation Buddhist monk
Genres history, poetry
Subjects Japanese history

Jien (慈円?, 17 May 1155 in Kyoto – 28 October 1225 in Omi (now Shiga)) was a Japanese poet, historian, and Buddhist monk.

Biography[edit]

Jien was the son Fujiwara no Tadamichi, a member of the Fujiwara family of powerful aristocrats. He joined a Buddhist monastery of the Tendai sect early in his life, first taking the Buddhist name Dokaie, and later changing it to Jien. He eventually rose to the rank of Daisōjō (大僧正?, "Archbishop"), or leader of the Tendai sect.

He began to study and write Japanese history, his purpose being to "enlighten people who find it hard to understand the vicissitudes of life". His masterpiece, completed around 1220, was humbly entitled, Gukanshō, which translates as Jottings of a Fool. In it he tried to analyze the facts of Japanese history. The Gukanshō held a mappo and therefore pessimistic view of his age, The Feudal Period, and claimed that it was a period of religious decline and saw the disintegration of civilization. This is the viewpoint generally held today. Jien claimed that changes in the feudal structure were necessary and defended the shogun's claim of power.

As a poet, he was named one of the New Thirty-six Poetry Immortals, and was the second-best represented poet in the Shin Kokin Wakashū. He was included by Fujiwara no Teika in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.

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References[edit]