Reverend Ichishima Shōshin is the 36th Abbot of Senzō-ji in Chiba Prefecture, Kangaku and Dai-sōjō of Tendai-shū, and Professor Emeritus at Taishō University. He was born on 3rd May 1939. His father, Reverend Ichishima Shinryū, undertook austerities as a kaihogyōja on Mount Hiei. Ichishima Sensei’s palm lines clearly form the first character of the name of Ganzan Daishi.
Ichishima Sensei grew up to become an eminent scholar at Taishō University and an authority on the siddhāṃ alphabet. His deep study of the Sanskrit and Tibetan literature ensured an adventurous life and allowed him to meet many important figures of Tibetan Buddhism during his stay in the United States.
As a young adult, he was sent to Hawaii in order to assist the late Reverend Ara Ryōkan, Archbishop of the Hawaii Betsuin. There, he was also able to offer a series of lectures at the University of Hawaii and participated in an English radio programme providing teachings on the Heart Sūtra. After fulfilling his duties, he was called to Berkeley, where he offered a series of classes on the Tendai Fourfold Teachings at the Institute of Buddhist Studies.
Following his return to Japan, he became the Abbot of Senzō-ji, Tamon-in and Hoju-in. The last temple, a National Treasure of Japan, is now administrated by his son, Reverend Genshin.
Ichishima Sensei was a key person in helping the 14th Dala Lama enter Japan, serving as his translator and producing a Japanese translation of the Guhyasamāja Tantra as well.
Up to this day, he remains the soul of Tendai Overseas, having produced the first complete translation of the Tendai Shido Gyōki in English and offering precious guidance and support to his non-Japanese disciples in Europe and the United States.