Takuan Calligraphy Takuan Portrait Everyone is enjoying the scenery. People go aboard a boat, Cross a vast sea, praise the view.

Takuan Soho was born in 1573. His parents were farmers living in the town of Izushi, located in what was then Tajima province (now part of Hyogo Prefecture).

Young Takuan began his religious studies by the time he was eight years old. By the time he was ten years old, he had entered a monastery. At the age of fourteen, Takaun was studying Zen with the master Shun’oku Soen, a Rinzai-sect Zen master at Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto.

Evidently, Takuan’s character and mastery of Zen impressed his fellow monks. At the unprecedented age of 36, Takuan was made abbot of the Daitokuji temple.

His tenure as Daitokuji abbot was short. Soon after his appointment, Takuan left the temple and begin a long period of traveling. During his journeys, he raised funds for the renovation of Daitokuji and other Zen temples.

Takuan was apparently unaffected by his fame and popularity. Known for his acerbic wit and strength of character, Takuan was able to apply Zen principals to many activities.  He was an accomplished gardener, painter, calligrapher, tea master, poet (over 100 published poems), and author (six volumes of collected works). He is also credited with inventing the yellow pickled radish called a takuan in his honor. 

His writings to fencing master, Lord Yagyu Munenori, are commonly studied by contemporary martial artists.

Takuan advised and befriended many individuals, from all social strata of life. Some of these included:

In 1629, Takuan was banished to northern Japan by the Hidetada Tokugawa shogunate because he protested their interference in temple matters involving ecclesiastical appointments. Thee years later, there was a general amnesty after the death of Hidetada Tokugawa and Takuan’s banishment ended.  Later, he was invited by Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604–51) to become the first abbot of Tokaiji Temple in Edo, which was constructed especially for the Tokugawa family.

Takuan died in Edo (present day Tokyo) in December of 1645. At the moment before his death, Takuan painted the Chinese character for dream, laid down his brush and died.

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