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Gidô was a Zen monk, a disciple of Musô Soseki, and a prominent Muromachi period scholar of Song Dynasty Neo-Confucianism.

A native of Tosa province, he spent roughly twenty years in the major Zen temples of Kamakura, before, in 1380, being appointed head abbot of Kennin-ji (in Kyoto) by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. While in that position, he also became a personal tutor to the shogun, educating Yoshimitsu in the Neo-Confucian classics, as defined by Zhu Xi. Two years later, Gidô shifted the focus of his tutelage away from (Neo-)Confucianism, and began to encourage Yoshimitsu to engage in Zen meditation.

Though opposed to the secularization of Zen, or the mixing of Zen with secular pasttimes such as literary pursuits, Gidô nevertheless has come to be regarded as one of the chief figures in gozan (that is, Zen temple) literature.


  • H. Paul Varley, "Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and the World of Kitayama: Social Change and Shogunal Patronage in Early Muromachi Japan", in John Hall and Toyoda Takeshi eds., Japan in the Muromachi Age, University of California Press (1977), 195-196.