During the Ming and Qing dynasties, many records were written by monks travelling to Japan about various locations and experiences, such as hot springs, cherry blossoms, rattan flowers, mount Fuji, etc. Having travelled to Japan, the monk Gaoquan Xingdun (東皋心越) made great efforts to assimilate into Japanese society, and the records of his life in Japan can be found in the Gaoquan Complete Works (高泉全集). Gaoquan always held Japanese culture in high regard: the mysterious powers of the hot springs’ physician (溫泉藥師), the impressive craftsmanship of famous Ikebana artists, or the historical records of eminent Zen monks from the past all became important facets of Gaoquan’s travels in Japan.
The trips of Chinese monks to Japan at the end of the Ming dynasty were closely related to the political shifts occurring during the change of dynasties. Maritime records of Chinese monks travelling to Japan have been preserved in documents such as the Tonghangyikan (通航一覽) or the Huayibiantai (華夷變態). For this reason, the study of this period should take into consideration such local records. In recent years, the travels to Japan of monks such as Yinyuan Longqi (隱元隆琦) or Donggao Xinyue (東皋心越) have received much attention from the academic community, and an impressive amount of research has been produced on the subject. Scholars have pointed out the important role as intermediaries of Chinese monks travelling to Japan, and the publication of the Gaoquan Complete Works has allowed readers to rediscover Gaoquan’s important contributions, and has reminded us of the important role played by Buddhism in promoting cross-cultural exchanges in East-Asia.
Gaoquan Xingdun; Huangbo School; Ming dynasty Buddhism; Qing dynasty Buddhism; Edo era