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  • Died: 1495
  • Japanese: 芥隠 (Kaiin)

Kaiin was a Zen monk from Kyoto's Nanzen-ji who played a prominent role in the expansion of Buddhism in the Ryûkyû Kingdom. He was also a close advisor to several Ryukyuan kings.

Kaiin was a high-ranking monk at Nanzen-ji, one of Kyoto's Gozan (Five Mountains) head Zen temples, when he was invited to Ryûkyû by King Shô Taikyû in 1456. He also had experience practicing or studying at temples in Satsuma province,[1] granting him some familiarity with Satsuma culture, if not Ryukyuan culture outright.

While in Ryûkyû, Kaiin founded a number of temples, including Kôgen-ji, Fumon-ji, Manju-ji, and Tenryû-ji[2][3], and oversaw the casting of a number of temple bells, including the so-called Bridge of Nations Bell.[4] He was ultimately named kokushi (royal tutor / national [Buddhist] master), a very prestigious title, but was nevertheless unsuccessful in convincing Shô Taikyû to make Buddhism the state religion.[5]

Decades later, after the founding of Ryûkyû's Engaku-ji in 1492, Kaiin served as its first abbot.


  1. Yokoyama Manabu 横山学, Ryûkyû koku shisetsu torai no kenkyû 琉球国使節渡来の研究, Tokyo: Yoshikawa kôbunkan (1987), 54.
  2. Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. (revised edition). Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. p99.
  3. Shinzato, Keiji, et al. Okinawa-ken no rekishi ("History of Okinawa Prefecture"). Tokyo: Yamakawa Publishing, 1996. p53.
  4. "Shō Taikyū." Okinawa rekishi jinmei jiten (沖縄歴史人名事典, "Encyclopedia of People of Okinawan History"). Naha: Okinawa Bunka-sha, 1996. p42.
  5. Yokoyama, 38, 54.