Taiyō Bonsei 太容梵清 transcribed the major writings and texts of the Sōtō Zen School, the Shōbōgenzō 正法眼蔵 the most outstanding among them. His work was highly significant because these works were transmitted from the medieval to the early modern period. This paper offers a short biography of Bonsei as basic research on the subject. Despite his achievements, Bonsei’s biography has been obscure in that even the year of his death has not been clearly identified. By mainly reexamining relevant prior research, this paper assumes that the years of his birth and death could be in 1378 and 1434 or thereafter, respectively. The paper continues its discussion by setting on 1439 as the year of Bonsei’s death, although this assumption can in no way be verified.
This paper also examines various biographies of high priests written in the early modern period, which have been the core source materials for biographical research. It is found that the sources of information obtained from these documents can be easily inferred from extant historical records. This could mean that Bonsei’s life story had already become fundamentally uncertain by the beginning of the early modern period. Finally, this paper catalogs the transcribed materials and the information on Bonsei available until now, with a particular focus on the periods of his head priesthood at various temples. Bonsei also had exchanges with Zeami and others involved in theater. The paper discusses Bonsei’s impact on the reference frames of Zeami 世阿弥 and his fellows, during the time when the Noh theatre 能楽 came into existence.