He was born in Suruga. (now Shizuoka pref.) He became a Zen(禅) priest when he was 15. He practiced asceticism around Japan. Then he became a temple master of Syouin-temple(松陰寺) when he was 33.
Most of Hakuin's paintings and calligraphies that remain today are from his 60s and later. Hakuin, who was completely self-taught, showed a flexible state of mind that transcended any pretense of skill. Hakuin's appeal has been more quickly appreciated overseas than in Japan.