Gessho Gentoku

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  • Born: 1475
  • Died: 1541
  • Japanese: 月渚玄得 (Gessho Gentoku)

Gessho Gentoku was a Neo-Confucian scholar of the Satsunan school.

Originally from Ushiyama in Satsuma province, Gessho studied in Buddhism under Isshi at the Seigen-ji in Higo province for a time, and then moved to Kyoto in 1494 to study at the Tôfuku-ji. After he returned to Kyushu, he entered into the tutelage of Keian Genju.

Gessho was then invited by Shimazu Tadatomo (a son of Shimazu Tadakado of the Hoshu branch of the Shimazu clan) to become the head of the Ryûgen-ji in Fukushima (in Hyûga province), and to read, handle, and compose documents related to Ming-Japan trade relations at the Ankoku-ji in Obi, (Hyûga). Gessho then joined a trade mission to China in 1523, led by Kendô Sôsetsu, representing Ôuchi Yoshioki. This fateful mission ended up clashing violently with a mission sent by the Hosokawa clan, a conflict which came to be known as the Ningbo Incident.

Following the incident, Gessho returned to Japan, and became the head priest of the Ankoku-ji in Obi, where he remained for nearly 20 years, dying in retirement at the nearby Seikô-ji in 1541.


  • Takatsu Takashi, “Ming Jianyang Prints and the Spread of the Teachings of Zhu Xi to Japan and the Ryukyu Kingdom in the Seventeenth Century,” in Angela Schottenhammer (ed.), The East Asian Mediterranean: Maritime Crossroads of Culture, Harrassowitz Verlag (2008), 257.