Ennin (Japanese: 圓仁 or 円仁) (AD 793 [1] or 794 - 864), who is better known in Japan by his posthumous name, Jikaku Daishi (慈覺大師), was a priest of the Tendai school.

Birth and origin

Ichijoji Kasai13bs4272


Tendai • Shingon
Pure Land • Zen


Saichō • Kūkai
Hōnen • Shinran
Dōgen • Eisai • Ingen

Sacred Texts

Avatamsaka Sutra
Lotus Sutra
Heart Sutra
Infinite Life Sutra
Glossary of
Japanese Buddhism

He was born into the Mibu (壬生) family in present-day Tochigi Prefecture, Japan and entered the Buddhist priesthood at Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei (Hieizan) near Kyoto at the age of 14.

Trip to China

In 838, his trip to Tang Dynasty China marked the beginning of a set of tribulations and adventures. Initially, he studied under two masters and then spent some time at Wutaishan (五臺山; Japanese: Godaisan), a mountain range famous for its numerous Buddhist temples in Shanxi Province in China. Later he went to Chang'an (Japanese: Chōan), then the capital of China, where he was ordained into both mandala rituals. He also wrote of his travels by ship while sailing along the Grand Canal of China.

Ennin was in China when the anti-Buddhist emperor Wuzong of Tang took the throne in 840, and he lived through the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution of 842-846. As a result of the persecution, he was deported from China, returning to Japan in 847.[2]

Return to Japan

In 847 he returned to Japan and in 854, he became the chief priest of the Tendai sect at Enryakuji, where he built buildings to store the sutras and religious instruments he brought back from China. Ennin also founded the temple of Ryushakuji at Yamadera.

Literary Work

He authored more than 100 books. His diary of travels in China, Nittō Guhō Junrei Kōki (入唐求法巡礼行記?), was translated into English by Professor Edwin O. Reischauer under the title Ennin's Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law. Sometimes ranked among the best travelogues in world literature, it is a key source of information on life in Tang China and Silla Korea and offers a rare glimpse of the Silla personality Jang Bogo.


  • Edwin O. Reischauer, Ennin's Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law (New York: Ronald Press, 1955).
  • Edwin O. Reischauer, Ennin's Travels in T'ang China (New York: Ronald Press, 1955).


  1. Donald Keene, in his Travelers of a Hundred Ages gives Ennin's birth year as 793, not 794.
  2. Reischauer, Ennin's Travels in T'ang China.

External links


ja:円仁 ru:Эннин wuu:圆仁 zh:圆仁

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