Kukai (??), also known posthumously as Kobo-Daishi (????, The Grand Master Who Propagated the Buddhist Teaching), 774–835, was a Japanese Buddhist monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist who founded the Esoteric Shingon or "mantra" school of Buddhism.
Shingon followers usually refer to him by the honorific title of Odaishisama (????) and the religious name of Henjo-Kongo (????).
Kukai is famous as a calligrapher and engineer.
In legend he is attributed with the invention of the kana syllabary, with which the Japanese language is written to this day (in combination with kanji), as well as the Iroha poem, which helped to standardise and popularise kana.