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  • Japanese: 僧官 (soukan)

This is an article on Buddhist rankings. For the artist, see Yamazaki Sôkan.

Sôkan is the Japanese system of rankings for Buddhist clergy. There are three ranks comprising ten categories or levels, followed by a series of titles known collectively as sôi (僧位). Each of the three ranks is known by an abridged form; monks or priests are often referred to by their rank, rather than their specific title.

The first rank, sôjo, consists of three titles:

  • Dai-sôjô (大僧正)
  • Sôjô (僧正)
  • Gon-sôjo (権僧正)

The second rank, sôzu, is comprised of four titles:

  • Dai-sôzu (大僧都)
  • Gon-dai-sôzu (権大僧都)
  • Shô-sôzu (小僧都)
  • Gon-shô-sôzu (権小僧都)

The third rank, risshi, contains three titles:

  • Dai-risshi (大立志)
  • Chû-risshi (中立志)
  • Gon-risshi (権立志)

Those monks past the third rank could then earn the following titles, known as sôi:

  • Hôkyô (法橋) - Bridge of the Law
  • Hô-in (法印) - Seal of the Law
  • Hôgen (法現) - Eye of the Law
  • Ajari (阿闍梨) - Spiritual master
  • Zasu (座主) - Master of the seat, head of the temple (abbot)
  • Shûza (沓座) - Senior master


  • This article was written by User:LordAmeth and contributed to both S-A and Wikipedia; the author gives permission for his work to be used in this way.
  • Frederic, Louis (2002). "Japan Encyclopedia." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.