Kouymou Sanzo

Koumyou Sanzo infobox image present

Koumyou Sanzo infobox image past

Kanji 【光明三蔵】
Titles Koumyou Sanzou Houshi
Alias Houmei
Age 47 (at time of his death)
Birthday 29 August
Race Human
Gender Male
Height 1.75 m (5"10)
Weight 65 kg (143 lbs)
Hair Blond
Eye Color Brown
Relatives Genjo Sanzo - Adoptive Son
Status Deceased
Manga Debut Sai. Vol 1, ch. 01
Sai. Ibun Vol 1, ch. 01
Anime Debut Saiyuki Ep. 03
Seiyuu Ken Narita (剣成田) (in Saiyuki)
Mitsuru Miyamoto (宮本 充)
(in Sai R., Sai R. Burial, & Sai R Gun.) Shinnosuke Tachibana (立花 慎之介) in Saiyuki Ibun Drama CD
English Christopher Patton (in Saiyuki)
Joey Capps (in Sai R. & Sai R Gun.)
Stage Mikami Shun (三上俊)
Skills Expert in Buddhist Spells
Summoning techniques
Martial artist
Weapons Seiten Sutra
Maten Sutra

Koumyou Sanzo (光明三蔵) was the previous Sanzo priest presiding over the Seiten and Maten sutra before Genjo Sanzo inherited them. Koumyou was also Genjo Sanzo's master and the man who raised him.


Koumyou appearance in Gensoumaden 001

Koumyou Sanzo from Genjo Sanzo's Memory
Saiyuki Ep. 06

Koumyou is a rather difficult man to describe. Perhaps Ken'yuu put it best when he said: “I can't tell if you're brilliant or retarded[1]. Koumyou tends to play the fool in most situations. He'll start a conversation with someone he hasn't seen in quite a while and then interrupt himself in the middle of it because he finally remembered to say “Long time no see[2]. He tends to spend much of his time floating on the surface of a subject, making comments that make it seem like he either isn't paying much attention or just doesn't understand anything that's implied to be happening. However, beneath that occasionally dumb exterior are some sharp observations that can cut right to the heart of things. His insights are small and usually tend to linger after he's said it and has already moved onto a new subject.

As a priest and teacher, Koumyou doesn't seem to believe that he has any right to teach anyone anything or pass on 'wisdom'[3]. He can be considered irresponsible and maybe a little worldly, but he seems to think that anything worth learning can be figured out on its own. Koumyou also seems to hold some contempt for priests who hide from the world and everything in it, having commented to Kouryuu once after turning down a request to stay at a particular temple that hiding away made them weak and blind.[4]

He doesn't like to get dragged down by obligations to others because he does not wish to interfere with how things ought to be. He even extends this to witnessing events that would be painful for most other men to bear. He watches an old friend, Goudai Sanzo, get slaughtered right before his eyes by Ken'yuu[5] and then goes on to travel with him without seeming to bear any grudge. This ties back to the one Buddhist belief that Koumyou holds himself to. Muichimotsu, which means to hold nothing. He tries to live without attachment though he has obviously failed in some aspects considering his attachment and depth of affection for Kouryuu.

As a father figure, Koumyou seems to be the textbook description of a 'stupid parent'. He's the type to happily dote on the boy and rather than teach him Buddhist values he passes on certain attitudes about life. Of course part of this could just be Koumyou's own irresponsible attitude. He's something of an unconventional monk, having chosen not to shave his head and enjoying the pleasures of tobacco[6] and alcohol[7] (though it never seems to be in excess). He lives life and seems to enjoy teaching through this way.


Koumyou appearance in Gensoumaden 002
Koumyou doesn't really look quite like the monk he ought to resemble with his long flowing blond hair (not so blond anymore) that’s pulled back into a braid. He has a gentle face that is most often seen smiling, in fact while he doesn't have many wrinkles yet, those that he does have can be attributed to smiling. Most of the time his expression has his eyes almost shut, though during the moments when he does open them he has brown eyes. Most importantly for recognizing his rank is the fact that Koumyou is marked with a red chakra upon his forehead signifying his closeness to the gods as a Sanzo priest.

As for clothing, Koumyou sticks with the traditional Sanzo uniform which consists of a long white robe tied over a black form fitting sleeveless shirt along with a pair of black arm coverings that reach his upper arms. Over the robe goes a gold colored metal chest guard. Depending on the formality of the event Koumyou might also wear a golden crown and a white head covering, though usually he doesn't bother.


In Saiyuki Ibun

Houmei appearance in Ibun 001

(Unforgettable) moment from
Saiyuki Ibun Vol 1, ch. 01

Koumyou started out as a young man named Houmei (峯明), who was a part of the intensive training program meant to produce worthy candidates for the title of Sanzo. Houmei was, to put it kindly, a bit of a loser in the eyes of his fellow trainees. During his training Houmei was known as the Demerit Monk because he was always receiving punishments for slacking off or trying to find ways around the many tests. It was during this time training that Houmei met Toudai and a small demon named Genkai, the former would later become Goudai Sanzo and the latter would later be Tenkai Sanzo.

Houmei endured many grueling aptitude tests and got really banged up in the process, earning cuts and bruises all over his skinny ass body. Despite Houmei's reputation as a slacker and failure, he displayed an amazing proficiency for being able to channel his chi without using a mantra. This wouldn't be so odd except for the fact that doing such a thing requires an almost impossible amount of focus. However, despite bets being against Houmei he kept trooping through the exams. It's important to note that even at this point in his life that Houmei didn't have any particular prejudices against youkai, a fact that got him as well as all the other trainees in trouble when he sassed a particularly biased instructor, Zouryu.

Burial Arc

Koumyou & Goudai appearance in Burial 001

Goudai & Koumyou Sanzo
Sai R. Burial Ep. 1 [part 1]

When Koumyou was 39 he got a rather odd request from his old friend Goudai Sanzo to visit him at Zenou temple and observe his students who were training to succeed Goudai as the next Sanzo priest and carry his sacred sutra[8]. It was here that he met another important young man who was training for the opportunity to become the next Sanzo priest after Goudai. His name was Ken'yuu and he was a brilliant 17 year old who had already completed an advanced PHD program and had moved onto the training program of the temple[9].

Koumyou's first personal encounter with Ken'yuu was when they met and had a chat where Koumyou showed a certain unsettling tendency to bounce idiotic and being incredibly sharp. When Ken'yuu admitted that he entered the training to be Sanzo because he was bored and needed a challenge that was worthy of him, Koumyou commented that must mean that Ken'yuu is a boring person if he considers everything else boring[10]. But then he decided that he and Ken'yuu should go cook sweet potatoes in raked up leaves so that moment ended pretty quick.

Koumyou appearance in Burial 001

Koumyou Naming Ken'yuu as Ukoku Sanzo
Sai R. Burial Ep. 1 [part 1]

However, it was revealed soon after the reason why Koumyou had been called to Zenou temple. Goudai was sick and admitted that he was going to die[11]. He wanted Koumyou to preside over the succession test and saw how it all ended. When the dying priest named those qualifying, Ken'yuu wasn't among them despite his skill and prowess as the sacred arts. This bothers Ken'yuu so he attacks Goudai demanding why he was excluded[12]. Naturally his teacher didn't take this amount of sass well and had him locked him up. Koumyou showed up at his holding cell that night and had a deep conversation with the youth and got to the source of his problem: Ken'yuu needed to be in a situation where either he 'ate or was eaten himself' in essence feeling the need to make every challenge life and death[13]. Koumyou seemed to understand this line of thinking.

Koumyou & Ukoku appearance in Kami-sama arc 001

Kouryuu's first meeting w/ Ukoku
Sai. Reload Ep. 25

Anyways the next day came and it's revealed that Goudai intends for shit to get real. His successor was literally going to have to do it over his dead body. Either way, Koumyou watched as Ken'yuu appeared at the testing site (having brocken out of the cell) and proceeded to take down all the potential candidates before bloodily killing Goudai Sanzo. The 17 year old, having fulfilled the requirements of succession became a Sanzo priest, though the gods never blessed him with the red chakra[14]. Covered in the blood of his teacher, Koumyou was sure that beneath it Ken'yuu was weeping. He took responsibility for the new young priest, giving him the name of Ukoku Sanzo. They traveled together for a year after that before Koumyou finally returned to Kinzan Temple, and more importantly to Kouryuu.

The Bet and the Events that Followed

Koumyou & Ukoku appearance in Burial 001

Kouymou & Ukoku's "Bet"
Sai R. Burial Ep. 1 [prologue]

After this, Koumyou stayed a little more stationary. Kinzan temple became his home temple where he raised and taught Kouryuu with the intention of having the young boy succeed him as guardian of his two sutras. And every so often the crickets around Kinzan temple would go silent just as Ukoku paid him a visit[15].
Koumyou appearance in Gensoumaden Manga 001

Kouymou before he names Kouryuu as a Sanzo
Saiyuki Vol 2, ch. 10

It was during one of these visits when they were sitting alone together that Koumyou and Ukoku made 'The Bet'[16]. The exact content of the bet is unknown, but it had something to do with the game of Eat or Be Eaten that Ukoku still thrived on. Koumyou suggested the stakes be 'the next rising sun'.

Later, after The Bet was made and Kouryuu was 13 years old, Koumyou decided that it was time to confer the title of Sanzo upon his student. He called Kouryuu to his quarters and named him Genjo Sanzo. This would have been a proud moment if not for the fact that a band of youkai broke into the temple. Koumyou used a binding spell to keep Genjo from moving[17], gave him the Maten sutra and then let himself be murdered to protect his surrogate son.


Genjo Sanzo’s master and the parent who raised him, this man is the previous Sanzo priest. He picked up the baby floating down the river, named him “Kouryuu” and brought him up. He was the protector of both the “Seiten Sutra” and the “Maten Sutra”, but as soon as he entrusted it all to Genjyo Sanzo, he was attacked by youkai opposition and died. That life ended at 47 years. He is endlessly good-tempered and soft-mannered, but he moves at his own pace and is a natural fool. Even so, he shows a side so philosophical it is as though he can see far into the future.

His is an old acquaintance of Goudai Sanzo, and together they spent their days as apprentice monks under the teachings of Arch-Bishop Jikaku. Koumyou succeeded to the “Seiten Sutra” and Goudai to the “Muten Sutra”. Their friend, the youkai Tenkai Sanzo, walked the path of Sanzo priest with them, but with his death the “Maten Sutra” Tenkai possessed was given to the care of Koumyou as well. Although this writing takes place 12 years after his death, Koumyou is a key person in “Saiyuki”. [18]


Goudai Sanzo -

Tenkai Sanzo - Houmei used to save Genkai when he is being bullied or if he is in danger.

Kouryuu -

Ukoku Sanzo -

Work in progress...

Weapons and Abilities

Houmei & Jikaku appearance in Ibun 001

Houmei using his chi to create a dragon (and in an attempt to avoid getting wet)
Saiyuki Ibun Vol 1, ch. 01

Spiritual Power - Koumyou has been regarded as one of the more powerful characters in series, even after his death. An important part of that strength lies in his spiritual power. Unlike most monks in the series, Koumyou can channel his chi in various ways without the use of a focusing chant to help him along. This has allowed him to be faster in battle. His chi can be used in a great many ways, though his most common usage of his ability lies in sealing the movement of an individual. However, while he was still a trainee monk, Koumyou demonstrated the ability to channel his chi to shape things in the world around him, creating a dragon out of water to attack an instructor[19] and, with the help of the other trainees, a gigantic muscular snowman to protect their group from an avalanche[20]. Don’t ask; that’s just how he rolls.

Physical ability – Despite being in his fifties Koumyou is still quite strong physically, strong enough to grab Ken’yuu (who would later become Ukoku Sanzo) and stop him from attacking Goudai Sanzo[21]. His grip left bruises on his arm from this action. Koumyou claims he doesn’t know his own strength, which might be a bluff. However what is clear is that Koumyou can hold his own in a fight even at his age.

Tenchi Kaigen Sutras – Koumyou has possession of two Tenchi kaigen sutras, holy scrolls said to have incredible powers. So far he has never been shown using their power, but it can be assumed that he knows exactly how to employ their powers. The two sutras in his possession are the Seiten Sutra and the Maten Sutra.

- Seiten Scripture: One of the Founding Scriptures of Heaven and Earth. It manages “holy” or “yang”, and falls under restoration. Unique to the Seiten Sutra, it has healing and restorative powers. It has the power to create light.
- Maten Scripture: One of the Founding Scriptures of Heaven and Earth. It manages “evil” or “yin”, and falls under attacks. Its unique spell the “Makai Tenjyo” has the power to break through the evil and purify unto heaven. It is said that, until the holder before Koumyou’s time, this sutra could only be held by a youkai Sanzo Houshi. It is presumed that the sutra is capable of being instantly called back to Koumyou's side as seen with Genjo and cannot be removed from existence or destroyed permanently (if destroyed, it will restore itself).


  • Although Koumyou Sanzo's death predates the beginning of the series, he is a key character in the “Saiyuki Series”.
  • Koumyou Sanzo's voice actor from Gensoumaden, Christopher Patton, also voiced Fake Goku[22] and Spot [23].[24]
  • Koumyo Sanzo mentioned to Ukoku Sanzo that there is certain person who he reminds him of Kouryuu.[25]
  • Houmei shares the same name with Houmei, the girl in Gensoumaden Saiyuki at Episode 2 and Saiyuki manga Chapter 1-3.
  • At the beginning of Ibun, he is 22 years old.



  1. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 98
  2. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - prologue - page 77
  3. Saiyuki Vol 2, ch. 11 Shower of Bullets - page 184
  4. Saiyuki Vol 1, ch. 04 His God - page 161
  5. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 106
  6. Saiyuki Vol 3, extra. Calling - page 172
  7. Saiyuki Ep. 38 - Unfulfilled Promise
  8. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 80
  9. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 85
  10. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 90
  11. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 91
  12. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 95
  13. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 99
  14. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 110
  15. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - prologue - page 75
  16. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - epilogue - page 102
  17. Saiyuki Reload Ep. 05
  18. Saiyuubito, pg 13
  19. Saiyuki Ibun Vol 1, ch. 01
  20. Saiyuki Ibun Vol 1, ch. 02
  21. Saiyuki Reload Vol 3, act.xx Burial - Ukoku's chapter - page 96
  22. Saiyuki Gensoumaden Ep. 10 & 32
  23. Saiyuki Gensoumaden Ep. 25
  24. New Network
  25. Saiyuki Burial Ep. 1