Shinzan Miyamae Roshi

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Shinzan Miyamae Roshi
ShinzanRoshi formal.jpg
Junichi Miyamae

Niigata, Japan
ReligionZen Buddhism
SchoolRinzai (Zendo Kyodan)
Senior posting

Shinzan Miyamae (宮前 心山, born 1935) is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist rōshi. He restored Gyokuryuji, the hermitage of Edo-period Zen Master Bankei Yotaku Zenji in central Japan and has taught there since 1990.


Shinzan Miyamae was born Niigata, Japan, in 1935. After graduation from Doshisha University with a degree in economics, he failed in three business ventures and experienced financial ruin.[1] Contemplating suicide he was by chance transformed on reading a book on Zen.[2] He was then 31. He was ordained a Zen monk by Mitsui Daishin Rōshi (1903–1992) who sent him to train at Shogenji monastery with his own master, the formidable Kajiura Itsugai Rōshi.[3] Shōgen-ji, known as the devil's dojo, had the reputation of being the strictest training monastery in Japan. It was founded in the mountains of Gifu-ken on the spot where Zen ancestor Kanzan Egan (1277–1360) in his post-monastery training worked as a cow herder by day and sat zazen on a precipice by night. Recognizing his understanding, Itsugai Roshi wished Shinzan to succeed him at Shōgen-ji. Shinzan Roshi instead went on to study the Tenryū-ji tradition of koan practice at Kokutai-ji (国泰寺) in Toyama in the north of Japan. The resident teacher, Inaba Shinden Roshi, requested Shinzan to become the next Zen Master of Kokutai-ji.

After completing his kōan study, Shinzan Rōshi took the unusual step of visiting every Zen Master in Japan seeking to test and deepen his insight.[4] He was unable to accept the monastery appointments indicated above due to resistance from other members of the Rinzai school who resented his vigorous stance against teachers without genuine insight.[5]

Later he founded Zendo Kyodan (禅道教団 – Zenways Sangha), a primarily lay-based Rinzai organization [6] and restored Gyokuryuji, the hermitage of the great Zen master Bankei Zenji (1622–1693) with the intention of focusing on what he considered the true orientation of the Rinzai School, the development of spiritual insight.

He has become known for teaching outcasts and foreigners and protesting against institutional abuses. The Buddhist establishment in Japan considers him a maverick over his willingness to teach former members of the Doomsday Cult Aum Shinrikyo.[7] Former senior member Kazuaki Okazaki converted to Zen Buddhism under Shinzan Rōshi's guidance. Kazuki was found guilty of involvement in the murder of a lawyer and his family. Once his death sentence was confirmed, Japanese law only allows prison visits by family members. In order to continue teaching Kazuaki, Shinzan Rōshi adopted him as his son.[8]

Long critical over the system of excessive charges for funerals (equivalent charges to $5000–6000 US dollars are not unusual) Shinzan Rōshi withdrew from the Myoshinji branch of the Rinzai Zen School in 2005.[9] In May 2007 he named Julian Daizan Skinner Rōshi as his successor, presenting him with inka.[10] In November 2009 he named Melody Cornell Eshin Rōshi as successor and in June 2017 he also named Matt Shinkai Kane as successor, presenting them both with inka (transmission). In May 2018 he confirmed his Dharma transmission to Tomio Yugaku Ameku and Barbara Jikai Gabrys, naming them both as his successors and presenting them with inka. [11]

In July 2015, the Zenways Sangha published the book The Zen Character: Life, Art and Teachings of Zen Master Shinzan Miyamae to coincide with Shinzan Rōshi's 80th birthday and an exhibition of his calligraphy in London. The book contains details of his artwork, together with a biography and excerpts from his teachings over the years.

In 2017, Shinzan Roshi was featured in the film Traces of the soul, exploring the world of contemporary calligraphy through the eyes of twelve international artists. The film reveals how the art, philosophies and life stories of these artists, whose diverse work is rooted in the ancient traditions of calligraphy, reflect and engage with the modern world.


Alternative photo
  1. ^ The Middle Way, Journal of the Buddhist Society, Vol 86 No.1 May 2011 p89
  2. ^ The Middle Way, Journal of the Buddhist Society, Vol 86 No.1 May 2011 p89
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  5. ^ "". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
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  7. ^ Sit Down and Shut Up; Brad Warner pp54
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-01-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  10. ^ "". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
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