Jianzhen 688-763 was born in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province. He was a Chinese Vinaya master and the founder of Japanese Vinaya (a discipline sect), which was championed by Xuan Zang.|
He became a monk at the age of 14 and left his hometown for Luoyang and Changan when he was twenty years old. He apprenticed to many celebrated monks, Dao'an, Hengjing and others. He was conversant with Vinaya and also became skilled in medicine, architecture and sculpture.
At 40, Jianzhen returned to his hometown Yangzhou and became abbot of the Damingsi. He spent 10 years there and was known as a Vinaya master like Dao'an. He constructed many temples and Buddhist statues, and wrote extensively.
In in 742 at the invitation of Japanese monks studying in China, Jianzhen decided to go to Japan to spread Vinaya . He tried five times to cross to Japan but failed each time, driven back to China by storms and currents. On the sixth attempt, almost totally blind, he made it. The Japanese Emperor welcomed Jianzhen's arrival and invited him to teach at the Tōdaiji Temple in Nara. Later Jianzhen supervised the building of the Toshodaiji where he taught and spread Vinaya until he died.
At the Japanese pavillion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, Japan will display the statue of the Tang Dynasty monk Jianzhen. The statue is a clay impression made from his body shortly after his death in Nara in 763. The statue will be brought to Shanghai in a special container constructed to protect the statue. The container will cost US$2.92 million. It is said that even if the container fell from an aircraft into the sea the statue would not be damaged. Such is the power of Buddhism!