Originally serving as a court calligrapher for the ninth Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Yoshihisa, the poet became a Buddhist monk and entered seclusion following the shogun's death in 1489. Traveling through Settsu and Yamashiro provinces, he finally settled in a place called Yamazaki. Establishing his hermitage, which he named Taigetsu-an, he adopted the name Yamazaki Sōkan. (The location of this hermitage is somewhat debated, as the town of Shimamoto, Osaka claims to contain its remains, as does the Myōkian temple in Ōyamazaki, Kyoto.)
He left Yamazaki in 1523, and settled five years later in the town of Kan'onji, in Sanuki province. On the grounds of Kōshōji, he made a hermitage for himself called Ichiya-an, and would spend the rest of his life there composing poems. Though his poems were not widely distributed at first, they were soon compiled into a text called Daitsukubashū. He also compiled and edited Inu-tsukuba-shū (犬筑波集), another important anthology of renga and haikai poems. His unrefined style came to be quite influential, and inspired the development of the danrin style of poetry which emerged fully in the early 17th century.
Sōkan died in 1553, after gaining a degree of fame and wealth for his poetry and calligraphy.
- This article is derived largely from the corresponding one on the Japanese Wikipedia.