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Jien in the Hyakunin Isshu.
Born May 17, 1155
Died October 28, 1225
Omi (now Shiga)
Occupation Buddhist monk
Subjects Japanese history

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

Jien was born into the Fujiwara family of powerful aristocrats. He joined a Buddhist monastery of the Tendai sect early in his life, first taking the Buddhist name Dokaie, and later changing it to Jien.

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 c. 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 shogun's claim of power.

See also


  • 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"

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