Jien (慈円, 17 May 1155 in Kyoto –28 October 1225 in Omi) was a Japanese poet, historian, and Buddhist monk.[1]

BornMay 17, 1155
DiedOctober 28, 1225(1225-10-28) (aged 70)
Omi (now Shiga)
OccupationBuddhist monk
Genrehistory, poetry
SubjectJapanese history


Jien was the son Fujiwara no Tadamichi, a member of the Fujiwara clan of powerful aristocrats. He joined a Tendai monastery of the early in his life, first taking the Buddhist name Dokaei, and later changing it to Jien. He eventually rose to the rank of Daisōjō (大僧正), leader of the Tendai.

He began to study and write Japanese history, his purpose being to "enlighten people who find it hard to understand the vicissitudes of life". His masterpiece, completed around 1220, was humbly entitled, Gukanshō, which translates as Jottings of a Fool. In it he tried to analyze the facts of Japanese history. The Gukanshō held a mappo and therefore pessimistic view of his age, the Feudal Period, and claimed that it was a period of religious decline and saw the disintegration of civilization. This is the viewpoint generally held today. Jien claimed that changes in the feudal structure were necessary and defended the shōgun's claim of power.

As a poet, he was named one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry, and was the second-best represented poet in the Shin Kokin Wakashū. He was included by Fujiwara no Teika in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu.

See also


  1. Sato, Hiroaki (1995). Legends of the Samurai. Overlook Duckworth. p. 151. ISBN 9781590207307.


  • Brown, Delmer and Ichiro Ishida, eds. (1979). [Jien (1221)], Gukanshō; "The Future and the Past: a translation and study of the 'Gukanshō', an interpretive history of Japan written in 1219" translated from the Japanese and edited by Delmer M. Brown & Ichirō Ishida. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03460-0
  • Encyclopædia Britannica 2005 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, article "Jien"
  • Mostow, Joshua S., (1996) Pictures of the Heart: The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image, pp. 421–422
  • Robert, Jean-Noël (2008). La Centurie du Lotus: Poèmes de Jien (1155–1225) sur le Sûtra du Lotus; Paris: Collège de France, Institut des hautes études japonaises. ISBN 9782913217195
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