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Kūkai facts for kids

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Kūkai (空海)
Kobo Daishi (Taisanji Matsuyama).jpg
Painting of Kūkai (Kamakura period, i.e. 1185–1333)
Religion Buddhism
School Vajrayana Buddhism, Shingon
Personal
Born 774
Zentsūji, Sanuki Province, Japan
Died 835 (age 61)
Mount Kōya, Japan
Senior posting
Title Founder of Shingon Buddhism
Religious career
Teacher Huiguo

Kūkai (空海), also known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師 The Grand Master Who Propagated the Buddhist Teaching), 774–835, was a Japanese Buddhist monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist who founded the Esoteric Shingon or "mantra" school of Buddhism. Shingon followers usually refer to him by the honorific title of Odaishisama (お大師様) and the religious name of Henjō-Kongō (遍照金剛).

Kūkai is famous as a calligrapher and engineer. In legend he is attributed with the invention of the kana syllabary, with which the Japanese language is written to this day (in combination with kanji), as well as the Iroha poem, which helped standardise and popularise kana.

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