Gyōson (行尊, 1055/1057—21 March 1135), also known as the Abbot of Byōdō-in (平等院大僧正, Byōdō-in Dai Sōjō), was a Japanese Tendai monk and waka poet of the late-Heian period. He became chief prelate of the Enryaku-ji temple in Kyoto, and one of his poems was included in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. Almost fifty of his poems were included in imperial anthologies, and he produced a private collection of poetry.

Prelate Gyōson (前大僧正行尊, Saki no Dai Sōjō Gyōson), from the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.


Gyōson was born in 1055[1][2][3] or 1057,[4][5] the son of Minamoto no Motohira (源基平).[1][2][3][4][5]

At age twelve,[2][3] he entered Mii-dera, eventually becoming its Abbot (園城寺長吏, Onjō-ji Chōri),[3][5] and practiced the Shugendō austerities of the yamabushi for many years[1] and made pilgrimages to various provinces.[4] At age 25, he received the abhisheka (阿闍梨灌頂, ajari-kanjō) from Raigō (頼豪).[3]

Later, in 1123, he rose to become Superior General of Enryaku-ji — the highest prelate of Tendai Buddhism.[1][4] He also served as Grand Almoner to emperors Shirakawa and Toba.[1][3]

He was known as the Abbot of Byōdō-in.[5]

He died on 21 March[3] 1135.[1][2][4][5]


Forty-eight[1] of his poems were included in imperial anthologies from the Kin'yō Wakashū on.[5]

The following poem by him was included as No. 66 in Fujiwara no Teika's Ogura Hyakunin Isshu:

Japanese text[2] Romanized Japanese[6] English translation[7]
Morotomo ni
aware to omoe
hana yori hoka ni
shiru hito mo nashi
Mountain cherry,
let us console each other.
Of all those I know
no one understands me
the way your blossoms do.

His poetry records his experiences on pilgrimage, and was in later ages celebrated as a spiritual precursor to the works of Saigyō.[3]

He also left a private collection, the Gyōson Daisōjō-shū (行尊大僧正集).[1][5]

Other artsEdit

In addition to his poetry, he was also known as a skilled biwa performer and calligrapher.[3]

In later literatureEdit

As a high-ranking monk of noble birth, he appeared in many later setsuwa tales of the reigen-dan (霊験譚) genre.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McMillan 2010 : 143-144 (note 66).
  2. ^ a b c d e Suzuki et al. 2009 : 85.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tokurō Yamamoto. Asahi Nihon Rekishi Jinbutsu Jiten article "Gyōson". Asahi Shinbun-sha.
  4. ^ a b c d e Digital Daijisen entry "Gyōson". Shogakukan.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Daijirin entry "Gyōson". Sanseidō.
  6. ^ McMillan 2010 : 168.
  7. ^ McMillan 2010 : 68.


  • McMillan, Peter. 2010 (1st ed. 2008). One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Suzuki Hideo, Yamaguchi Shin'ichi, Yoda Yasushi. 2009 (1st ed. 1997). Genshoku: Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. Tokyo: Bun'eidō.

Further readingEdit

  • Kondō, Jun'ichi (December 1973), "Gyōson Daisōjō (Jō): Shōgai to Sakuhin" (PDF), Hokkaidō Daigaku Jinbun Kagaku Ronshū, Sapporo: Hokkaido University: 69–133, retrieved 20 August 2015

External linksEdit