Jinhua Heritage: Chan Monk Xinyue to Japan
发布日期:2021-06-18 浏览次数:

Donggao Xinyue (Japanese: Tōkō Shin’etsu, 1639-1694), lay name Jiang Xingchou, literary name Xinyue, was born in Pujiang during the early Qing Dynasty. Xinyue was a clever poet, painter, and seal-engraver, as well as skilled Chinese lute (琴) player. Following the outstanding figure and contributions of Jianzhen (688-763), Xinyue also had a considerable influence on the Japanese cultural life of his time.

At the age of eight, Xinyue took the tonsure and became a monk at Suzhou’s Baoen Temple (报恩寺); at 13, he had roamed around Jiangsu and Zhejiang in search of a master, and he eventually settled at Hangzhou’s Yongfu Temple (永福寺). In 1676, during the 15th year of Kangxi Emperor’s reign, Xinyue embarked from Putuo to reach Japan and settle in the Chinese temple of Xingfu (Kōfuku-ji) in Nagasaki. He later was invited by Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701) to Mito, where he established the Gion Temple (祗园寺) for the new Jusho branch (寿昌派) of the Soto Zen School, becoming the founder of the branch.

Xinyue both preached and taught arts, and those who asked for guidance and teachings came one after another. He taught the Chinese lute, discussed his poetry, lectured about arts, and imparted seal script (篆法). He also dedicated himself to the study of the Japanese language and music composition. His peculiar calligraphic style brought about a new realm for Japanese calligraphy circles. He mastered such vigorous and powerful, profound and elegant seal script style that he is regarded as the father of Japanese seal carving tradition.

The Japanese people admire and appreciate Xinyue. Since his death, many gatherings and events have been held to commemorate him. For example, a Chinese flute music festival was held in Osaka in 1844 on the 150th anniversary of Xinyue’s death; and special exhibition was organized in Mito in 1926, collecting and putting on display his calligraphy, paintings, and seal carvings, as well as a collection of poems, picture albums, and a variety of flute scores. (Translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Kendra Fiddler)

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