The Institute For Zen Studies

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Institute Directors and Chairmen

Biographical Sketches of the Institute’s Directors and Chairmen

Successive head
Yamada Mumon
Period in Office January 1964 – January 1988

Yamada Mumon was born in Aichi Prefecture on July 16, 1900. After graduating from Waseda Middle School and Rinzaishū College he trained as a Zen monk at Tenryū-ji Monastery. He served as abbot of Reiun-in and Shōfuku-ji, president of Hanazono University, director of the Institute for Zen Studies, and chief abbot of Myōshin-ji. He passed away on December 24, 1988. Yamada Roshi was the author of numerous books, including Lectures on the Blue Cliff Records (10 vols., in Japanese); The Record of Linji (in Japanese); and The Ten Oxherding Pictures (in Japanese).
Hirata Seikō
Period in Office January 1988 – March 1994

Hirata Seikō was born in Kyoto on August 26, 1924. After graduating from the Department of Philosophy at Kyoto University he trained in Zen at Tenryū-ji Monastery, then spent two years in Germany studying philosophy. Following his return he was appointed Zen master at Tenryū-ji Monastery. He simultaneously served as Director and Chairman of the Board at the Institute for Zen Studies. In 1991 he was named Chief Abbot of Tenryū-ji, a position he held until his death on January 9, 2008. His many books include The Zen Point of View (in Japanese), The Zen that Gives Life (in Japanese); and A Zen Lexicon (in Japanese).
Yamada Sōbin
Period in Office April 1994 – March 1999
Yamada Sōbin was born in Gifu Prefecture in the year 1920 and trained in Zen at Myōshin-ji Monastery. After graduating from the Department of Literature at Hanazono University and Ryūkoku University he was appointed abbot of Shinju-an, a subtemple of Daitoku-ji established by the famous Zen monk Ikkyū. After serving as secretary general of Daitoku-ji he became director of the Institute for Zen Studies. He passed away on March 25, 2008. His publications include Zen at Daitoku-ji (in English; with Jon Covell), Daitoku-ji and Zen, and The History of Daitoku-ji through Written Materials (in Japanese).
Hosokawa Kei’itsu
Period in Office April 1999 – May 2000
Biography: See “Chairmen of the Board
Hirano Sōjō
Period in Office May 2000 – July 2002

Hirano Sōjō was born in 1928 in the city of Sakae, Osaka Prefecture. He received ordination under Yamada Sōbin of Shinju-an, Daitoku-ji, and studied at Hanazono University. After graduating from Hanazono with a degree in Buddhist Studies he trained at Shōfuku-ji and Zuigan-ji Monasteries, receiving Dharma transmission from Katō Ryūhō Roshi. He taught at Hanazono University until 1988, when he was appointed Zen master at Zuigan-ji Monastery. He died on July 6, 2002. Among his numerous books on Zen are Ikkyū Sōjun, Annotated Recorded Sayings of Daitō, and Essential Teachings on Sudden Enlightenment (all in Japanese).

Hosokawa Kei’itsu
Period in Office July 2002 – March 2005
See “Chairmen of the Board
Nishimura Eshin
Period in Office April 2005 – Present

Born in 1933 in Shiga Prefecture, Nishimura Eshin graduated with a degree in Zen Philosophy from Hanazono University and trained in Zen at Nanzen-ji Monastery. After assuming the abbacy of Kōfuku-ji in Shiga Preferecture in 1959 he spent a year abroad studying at the Pendle Hill Quaker Center for Study and Contemplation in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. In 1960 he joined the staff of the Institute for Zen Studies, and in 1970 completed coursework for the Ph.D. program at Kyoto University. After serving as professor on the faculty of the Department of Literature at Hanazono University he was appointed the university’s president. His numerous publications include The Theory and Practice of Investigating the Self, What Does It Mean to Be a Buddhist?, and Buddhist Teachings for Raising Children (all in Japanese).

Chairmen of the Board
Murakami Jikai
Period in Office January 1964 – March 1980
Murakami Jikai was born in 1902 in Aichi Prefecture and received ordination in 1916 at Rokuon-ji (better known as the Golden Pavilion). After receiving a degree in philosophy from Ōtani University he trained at Tenryū-ji Monastery and subsequently assumed the abbacy of Rokuon-ji. He also served as Secretary General of Shōkoku-ji and abbot of Jishō-ji (the Silver Pavilion).
Hirata Seikō
Period in Office April 1980 – March 1994
See “Directors”
Hosokawa Kei’itsu
Period in Office April 1994 – June 2012

Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1940, Hosokawa Kei’itsu received ordination at Ryūun-ji in Tokyo and graduated from Komazawa University. Following completion of his Zen training at Myōshin-ji Monastery he was appointed abbot of Ryūun-ji. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board at the Institute for Zen Studies he has held a number of important positions in Rinzai Zen, including Secretary General of Myōshin-ji and President of Hanazono University. He has published A White Horse in a Field of Reed Flowers (in Japanese) and other works.
Sasaki Dōitsu
Period in Office June 2012 – Present

Sasaki Dōitsu was born in Iwate Prefecture in 1952. At the age of thirty-three he received ordination from Nishio Sōteki at Manju-ji monastery in Oita Prefecture. After a period of monastic formation at Myōshin-ji he continued his training at Manju-ji and received inka from Nishio Roshi. In 2006 he succeeded Nishio Roshi as abbot.