Hermits (sennin)


Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Mountain hermits, sennin 仙人

The recluse from the political scene has always been an ideal of the Chinese and later Japanese intellectuals.


A hermit (from the Greek eρημος erēmos, signifying "desert", "uninhabited", hence "desert-dweller") is a person who lives to some greater or lesser degree in seclusion and/or isolation from society.

Originally the term was applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament (i.e. the 40 years wandering in the desert that was meant to bring about a change of heart).

Sennin is a common Japanese character name.
For example, Ikkaku Sennin (一角仙人 "One-horned Immortal") was a Noh play by Komparu Zenchiku (金春禅竹, 1405-1471).

The Japanese legend of Gama Sennin (蝦蟇仙人 "Toad Immortal") is based upon Chinese Liu Hai (劉海), a fabled 10th-century alchemist who learned the secret of immortality from the Chan Chu ("Three-legged Money Toad").
Gama Sennin is also a name for Jiraiya in Naruto; comparable with Kame Sennin (亀仙人 "Turtle Immortal") for Muten-Rôshi in Dragon Ball.

Read more in the WIKIPEDIA !

- quote -
Jiraiya (自来也 or 児雷也, literally "Young Thunder"),
originally known as Ogata Shuma Hiroyuki, is the toad riding character of the Japanese folklore Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari (児雷也豪傑物語, "The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya"). The tale was adapted into a 19th-century serial novel, a kabuki drama, several films, video games and a manga, and has also served as a source of influence for various other works.
In the legend, Jiraiya is a ninja who uses shapeshifting magic to morph into a gigantic toad. As the heir of a powerful clan in Kyūshū of the same name, Jiraiya fell in love with Tsunade (綱手), a beautiful young maiden who has mastered slug magic. His arch-enemy was his one-time follower Yashagorō (夜叉五郎), later known as Orochimaru (大蛇丸), a master of serpent magic (the kanji 大蛇 literally means "giant snake" or "serpent"). It was first recorded in 1806.
- MORE in the Wikipedia ! -

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The Magic Serpent (怪竜大決戦 Kairyū Daikessen)
The Mystic Dragons' Decisive Battle) is a 1966 tokusatsu kaiju/ninja fantasy film produced by Toei Company Ltd. This film is a loose retelling of the famous Japanese folktale, Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari (The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya).

Just like Toei's many superhero shows, this film is just as action-packed and colorful. And to entertain younger audiences, the hero Jiraiya and the villain Orochimaru use ninja magic to transform into daikaiju to battle each other (this was also done in the original story, even though the animals were not necessarily gigantic). Despite the many differences between this film and its source material, this has remained a cult classic.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Princess Tsunade Hime 綱手姫is standing on a Namekuji to cross over the sea to meet her lover, Jiraiya.
. namekuji 蛞蝓 (なめくじ / ナメクジ) slug .



Three Hermits: plum, chrysanthemum and narcissus

Lin Bu (967 – 1028), a scholar, did not marry but took the plum blossoms as his bride.

Tao Quian (365 – 427), a poet and official, renounced his position and retreated to plant chrysanthemums in his garden.

Zha Mengjian (1199 – 1267), an imperial family member of the Sung, painted narcissus as a means of self-cultivation in his times of upheavel of the Mongol invasions.

These three flowers, who make it through the harsh winter months, are together a symbol of eremits and hermits, who renounce worldly positions and pursue self realization and self cultivation in a remote atmosphere.


Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1598-1652):
The Three Hermits: Plum, Chrysanthemum, and Narcissus
Chinese, Ming dynasty, ink and color on silk, Wan-go H. C. Weng Collection,
photography courtesy Wan-go H.C. Weng,
courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

quote from ARTBLOG NET

"What is a mere painting's worth, except that it has accompanied three members of my family," he inscribed in 1889, adding that his father and then his brother had carried it with them before they died. "
. . . Every time I unroll the scroll, tears flow uncontrollably."

Weng Tonghe


Tang Dynasty Prime Minister Li Deyu and
the Three Hermits

Li Deyu was a Prime Minister in the Tang Dynasty. Before he became the Prime Minister, he met three people with special powers. All three were hermits.

One day Li met a hermit named Guan Chenshan. At that time, he was a low-ranking official assigned to guard the north gate of a city. Guan told him, “You will be promoted and serve as a secretary for the Emperor next year. But you will actually work for the Crown Prince.” Li was so astonished by the hermit’s words that his face turned white. The hermit seemed to regret his words and hurriedly got up to leave. As he was leaving, Li asked him, “Why will I work for the Crown Prince?” The hermit replied, “You have a predestined relationship with the Crown Prince in several past lives, so you will.”

In the Fall of that year, Li Deyu was summoned to the capital. Shortly after, the Crown Prince usurped the throne and became Emperor Muzong. In January of the following year, Li Deyu was assigned to work in the imperial court and to work closely with the new Emperor.

While he was serving as a high-ranking counselor to the Emperor, a hermit from central Min (now Fujian Province) came to visit him. When Li greeted him, the hermit said, “The current situation will not last. If you don’t leave, you will be appointed Prime Minister. However, a disaster will follow. If you apply for a position in a remote place, the person who replaces you here will suffer. Ten years from now, you will become Prime Minister and return to the capital from the west.” In the fall of that year, Li asked for and received a post to guard the remote city of Wumen. One year later, he went to the capital to pay his respect to the Emperor and was sent to guard the border township of Nanyan.

At the end of that Fall, a county official accompanied by a Taoist [Someone who follows the "Tao" or "way of the universe"] from the Ye Shire came to visit Li. Before the Taoist even walked to his seat, he said to Li, “You will be appointed General of the Southwest. You will receive your seal for the General’s post before October 15.”

The events that occured later was exactly like what the three hermits had predicted. The time frame they predicted was also very accurate. The person who replaced Li as a high-ranking counselor to the Emperor was sent into exile shortly after Li left for his post in the remote city of Wumen. Ten years later, Li Deyu became the Prime Minister, where he indeed held an official post in the west before his appointment to become the Prime Minister came.

Adapted from Chuqiong Zhi
© 2001-2003 ClearHarmony Net


Tōbōsaku Sennin 東方朔仙人 Tobosaku Sennin
with a peach in hand


Kanzan and Jittoku 寒山拾得

Ryokan san, 良寛さんRyookan


good bye bye
to kigo mountain

仙人の さらば さらばと 季語の山
sen-nin no saraba saraba to Kigo no yama



Gama Sennin
(蝦蟇仙人 "Toad Immortal")

© Photo curtesy of Tosh Beppu, October 2007


inkunshi 隠君子 man of modest worth who lives in obscurity
man of little worth

uri koya no tsuki ni ya owasu inkunshi

this watchman
now without the pepo hut
under the moon

Tr. Hideo Suzuki

. WKD : uri 瓜 all kinds of gourds, melons and pepos - Cucurbitaceae .

. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


Chookaroo Sennin, Chōkarō Sennin 張果老仙人 Chokaro Sennin
one of the Eight Immortals

Chōkarō Sennin releasing the horse from the gourd
Kano Tsunenobu (狩野常信: 1636-1713).

- CLICK for more artwork about Chokaro ! -


- #sennin #mountainhermit -


Gabi Greve said...

enjoying narcissus,
plums and more ...
mountain hermit

© Gabi Greve, May 2007

Anonymous said...

even for the holy hermit
today, a square
of zoni!

sutebito mo kesa wa shikaku ni zooni kana


by Issa, 1821

Sutebito is a person who has rejected the world: a "hermit" or a "recluse"; Kogo dai jiten (Shogakukan 1983) 885.
Zooni, glutinous rice cakes with vegetables, is enjoyed in the New Year's season.

Tr. David Lanue

Anonymous said...

Jiraiya (自来也 or 児雷也, "Young Thunder"), originally known as Ogata Shuma Hiroyuki,
is the title character of the Japanese folk tale
Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari (児雷也豪傑物語, "The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya").


Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

sutebito ya awase o meshite yuusuzumi

the holy hermit
puts on a lined robe
evening cool

awase, a lined kimono
David Lanoue
keywords used by Issa