|Yinyuan's nephew Lin Rumo's epitaph, photo by Jiang Wu|
Yinyuan became an eminent monk and a poet who wrote more than five-thousand poems in his lifetime. But in total, he only had one year of elementary schooling. This must have something to do we his family tradition.
According newly discovered sources, his family can be traced to Lin Mo 林谋 in the late Tang who came to Fujian with the Min ruler Wang Shenzhi 王审知. Yinyuan's lineage derived from Lin Guan 林关 who moved to Fuqing during the early Ming. Yinyuan's secular name is Lin Zengbing 林曾昺 and his courtesy name is Zhifang 子房, as recorded in his chronological biography. Rarely known is that he has at least two brothers, one of them called Lin Zichun 林子春, who also became a monk. I gleaned a few fragments of his relatives from his poems: this brother Lin Zichun could write poems as well. He had a son called Lin Rumo 林汝默 (dharma name Daofu 道甫). Yinyuan had quite a few poems written for him because he also came to Nagasaki for living. Apparently, he was not prosperous without permit to stay in Japan and wanted Yinyuan's help. But Yinyuan refused and urged him to go back to China. On his way back to China in 1675, he died on the boat and was buried in Sofukuji cemetery. I didn't find his tomb when I visited Nagasaki in the summer of 2013. But in Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, I found the rubbing of his epitaph as shown in the photo. He was indeed buried in Nagasaki.
Yinyuan's poems also reveal that he had another nephew called Lin Fuzhong 林孚中, who also had trouble and sought assistance from Yinyuan. This nephew became a monk as well. A poem mentioned that Yinyuan has a uncle called Lin Guchu 林泒初. Yinyuan's mother was surnamed Gong 龚 and there were a few people named Gong mentioned in his record as well. I gave a brief account of Yinyuan's family background in Chapter 1 of my book Leaving for the Rising Sun. But more needs to be done.