Kukai, also known posthumously as Kobo-Daishi (The Grand Master Who Propagated the Buddhist Teaching), 774–835, was a Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist, founder of the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism. Shingon followers usually refer to him by the honorific titles of O-Daishi-sama and Henjo-Kongo.
Kukai is famous as a calligrapher and engineer. Among the many achievements attributed to him is the invention of the kana, the syllabary with which, in combination with Chinese characters (kanji), the Japanese language is written to this day. Also according to tradition, the Iroha, which uses every phonetic kana syllable just once and is one of the most famous poems in Japanese, is attributed to him but again, this is popular belief and nowhere attested to. His religious writings, some fifty works, expound the tantric Buddhist Shingon doctrine. The major ones have been translated into English by Hakeda Yoshito.