In the Edo Period [1603 to 1867], the purity of Taiseki-ji’s teachings and actions were greatly diminished. Succumbing to the authority of the Tokugawa shogunate government, Taiseki-ji began accepting offerings to the Gohonzon from the government.
Taiseki-ji submitted a document of acceptance of land that the government had given as an official offering at the time of Nitten-, who came from Yobo-ji in Kyoto. There were two retired high priests at Taiseki-ji then who also came from Yobo-ji—Nissei- and Nisshun-. Currying favor with the government, Taiseki-ji was permeated with slander.
In those days, many members of another Nichiren school, the Fujufuse (never-accept-and-never-offer), had become martyrs because of the school’s refusal of slanderous government offerings. Fujufuse protested the government’s religious impurity, endeavoring to protect the integrity of the Law they believed in. For this reason, the school was heavily persecuted in Japan, as much as were Christians. Taiseki-ji priests, intimidated by these events, capitulated and accepted government offerings in order to preserve their security, all the while having to deal with pressure from the Minobu school.
Various Nichiren-affiliated schools were centered in Kyoto or on Mount Minobu. Taiseki-ji was merely a tiny, forgotten mountain temple, barely surviving. It lacked capable priests and any prosperity was unimaginable. For this reason, over a century spanning the Azuchi-Momoya (1573–1603) and Edo periods, Yobo-ji in Kyoto, whose teachings differed with them fundamentally, sent several priests who eventually became Taiseki-ji’s chief administrator (high priest). Nine high priests in all, Nissho- through Nikkei-, originated at Yobo-ji.
Yobo-ji doctrine naturally flowed into Taiseki-ji. Most notable were the terrible imported teachings of Nissei-. Nichikan- would refute Nissei’s doctrine and restore the Nikko school’s original teachings. But Nichikan’s recovery efforts were not sustained for very long because of the influence of evil priests within the school. Over time, the Taiseki-ji priesthood, satisfying itself with offerings from slanderous entities, became increasingly corrupt.
Taiseki-ji and its local temples were incorporated into the establishment of the Edo and local governments. As an agent of the magistrate that dealt with temple and shrine matters, they contributed to governing the people. The Edo government prohibited sects from praising themselves and criticizing other sects, and in order for the foundation of governmental authority to remain secure, it curtailed the freedom of propagation so that certain sects wouldn’t become too powerful. Thus, no religious school could obtain new believers; on the other hand, none had to worry about losing the believers they had to other sects.
Temples therefore became agencies to control their believers on behalf of the government. They also issued religious identity documents that, among other things, guaranteed that believers were neither Christian nor Fujufuse school believers.
As a result, priests now reigned over believers, who were obligated to make offerings to their respective temples at funerals, memorial services, etc., and now had to depend on these temples to guarantee their religious status.
Furthermore, Nichiren Shoshu priests, with their sizable and growing financial resources, engaged in lending money to farmers at a high interest rate. If farmers could not repay the debt, their rice fields were seized and managed by the priesthood.
So, with an affluence acquired with governmental backing, and a lack of propagation effort, it is only natural that the priesthood became corrupt. Following the trend of the times, Taiseki-ji became a “funeral Buddhism” temple, devoid of the spirit of Nichiren Daishonin, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, and Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji.
Corruption became further rooted when the Meiji government allowed the marriage of priests. Not only did priests now enjoy the benefits of intimate relations, but this was also the origin of the insidious tradition of ruling through family lineage. Priests could now use wives and children to seek family control over the sect.
Taiseki-ji priests so desired to play an important role within the government establishment that they distorted their original teachings. As the new Meiji government, steeped in Shintoism, set forth a policy of abolishing Buddhism, the priesthood sought to gain favor with the modern emperor system. Instead of confronting the national authority, Taiseki-ji succumbed for self-preservation.
As an extension of this corruption, Taiseki-ji joined with other slanderous sects to beg the government to issue the title of rissho taishi (“the great teacher who established the correct teaching”) to Nichiren Daishonin and to receive a framed calligraphy from the emperor. The corrupt priests, deluded to where they proudly engaged in such offensive behavior, lacked the correct attitude in faith demonstrated by the Daishonin and the spirit to preserve his original teachings.
A typical example of secularism was displayed by Nichikai-, who was regarded as a monster priest for disparaging the Law.
This chapter sheds light on the historical process of how Taiseki-ji distorted its original teachings.
17th High Priest Nissei Slanders by Worshipping Shakyamuni Statues
Nissei- was a most slanderous high priest.
As Nichiko Hori- writes in The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, vol. 7:
Basing himself in Edo, Nissei increased the number of branch temples and expanded the school’s influence. In the process, he initiated the practice of reciting the sutra to Buddhist statues, thereby introducing Yobo-ji school doctrine into this school. Perhaps due to conscience or to opposition around him, however, he refrained from bringing this bad influence into the head temple.
Nichiko says here that Nissei’s efforts to inject Yobo-ji doctrine into Taiseki-ji were not as impactful as expected, “Perhaps due to his conscience or to opposition around him . . .”
As background, Nissei had authored a text that came to be called “Zuigi Ron,” (“Thesis on Affirmed Points”) in which he expounds on the validity of erecting statues of the Buddha and of reciting the entire Lotus Sutra.
“Zuigi Ron” concludes:
The next year after building Hosho-ji, I had a Buddhist statue built. Since both priests and lay believers of this school criticized my behavior, I write this to dispel their fog of doubt and help them understand the validity of my action.
In the Nikko school, it was regarded as slanderous to erect such statues and even more slanderous to worship them. It stood to reason that Nichiren Shoshu would erupt in turmoil over the high priest initiating this slanderous action.
From information contained in The Essential Writings of the Fuji School, we see that the temples where Nissei erected Shakyamuni statues include Hosho-ji, Josen-ji, Seiryu-ji, Myokyo-ji, Honsei-ji, Kujo-ji, Choan-ji, Hongen-ji, Kyodai-ji, Jozai-ji, Jitsujo-ji and others.
It is also recorded that Nissei supported the restoration of the main temple at Yobo-ji in Kyoto, where Shakyamuni’s statue was enshrined.
As Nissei explains, he wrote “Zuigi Ron” to quiet the uproar within the school over the Shakyamuni statue. Here are some important passages:
A Buddhist statue is an object of worship. Who can say we should not erect it? No one has done so simply because the sage did not enshrine a Buddhist statue.
Nissei believed it only natural to erect statues of Shakyamuni. His reason for not having done so within Nichiren Shoshu: It was simply because Nichiren Daishonin never did. Naturally, Nichiren’s disciples are not supposed to do what he did not do in his lifetime. But Nissei felt that Shakyamuni statues were traditionally supposed to be built, and perhaps it was just an oversight that Nichiren happened not to build one. Nissei contends it is right to produce Shakyamuni statues and enshrine them at Nichiren Shoshu temples.
Viewed from the perspective of the provisional teachings, making a statue is a good cause that prevents one from falling into evil paths. It will also cause one to appear in the world of Heaven. Even the provisional teachings expound such benefits in making a statue. The Lotus Sutra, which is the true Mahayana teaching, enables all small good causes to bring about enlightenment. It goes without saying that making a Buddhist statue is a major good cause.
Nissei asserts that even the provisional teachings proclaim it is a good cause to build statues of Shakyamuni and that the actual Mahayana teachings of the Lotus Sutra propound that all minor good causes enable one to attain Buddhahood. He then concludes that, according to the Lotus Sutra, erecting Shakyamuni statues is a great good cause—a horrendously erroneous view.
The sage did not make a Buddhist statue because he did not settle down at any one place.
Nissei contends that Nichiren Daishonin never put up any Shakyamuni statues because he was always moving, whether it was to Kamakura, Izu, Sado or Minobu, implying that Nichiren’s not having built Shakyamuni statues was actually a matter of circumstance and not intent.
After discussing these things and quoting Nichiren’s writings, Nissei concludes, “It is indeed erroneous to say, as pointed out from ancient times all the way through today, that making a Buddhist statue causes one to fall into hell.” What an awful high priest Nichiren Shoshu produced!
In later years, Nichiin- added this comment to the end of “Zuigi Ron”: “I, Nichiin, would say that the Rev. Nissei’s idea varies greatly from the actual teachings of this school.” Asserting that Nissei’s teaching was vastly different from the traditional teachings of Fuji Taiseki-ji, Nichiin concludes that it was therefore very slanderous.
Nissei’s erroneous teachings were a direct product of the influence exerted by Kozo-in Nisshin of Yobo-ji in Kyoto. Nissei’s own influence continued at Nichiren Shoshu until later rectified by Nisshun- and Nikkei-. It was Nichikan, however, who finally rooted out the erroneous Yobo-ji teachings within Nichiren Shoshu.
It is a historical fact that a high priest like Nissei appeared in the annals of Nichiren Shoshu history! As documents from those days indicate, it is noteworthy that some priests and lay believers did protest against Nissei’s erroneous teachings. Nissei confirms this by writing, “Both priests and lay believers of this school criticized my behavior.”
The following description, in a work titled “The Dai-Gohonzon and the Transmission of the Heritage,” appeared in the March 1991 issue of The Bell of Dawn (Gyosho), an organ of Myokan-ko, a lay society connected with the Rikyo-bo lodging temple on the Taiseki-ji grounds, whose chief priest was Shido Ogawa.
The entity of the Law established within the life of the Daishonin has been transferred from Nikko Shonin to 3rd High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, and from Nichimoku Shonin to 4th High Priest Nichido Shonin just as water flows from one vessel to another. Taking into consideration this transmission of the heritage from one high priest to another through the successive lineage of the high priests, it becomes easy to understand the 700-year tradition of this school where we worshipped each of the successive high priests as Nichiren Daishonin’s surrogate.
This view would mean, then, that the heritage of Nichiren Daishonin had been terminated at the time of Nissei, and that poisonous water has been flowing through the vessel of high priest since then. The fact is that there have been both respectable high priests and erroneous high priests in the history of Nichiren Shoshu.
Nichiko Identifies Nissei’s Errors
The Biography of Sage Nichiren, written by Nissei, is included in volume 5 of The Essential Writings of the Fuji School. Nissei expounds an erroneous view there, too. Dealing with Nissei’s errors, Nichiko- added critical comment:
As to the object of devotion in both general and specific senses, this teacher has no clear understanding of the correct teachings of this Fuji school. “This teacher” in this document means Nissei. One way or another, his theory is influenced by his old temple. We have to be careful about what he says.
Nichiko put priority on protecting the integrity of the Fuji school, pointing out erroneous teachings, even if a high priest had expounded them. Here we see that Nissei, a high priest, was evidently unclear about the significance of the Gohonzon.
To further point out Nissei’s errors, Nichiko also wrote: “How this teacher misunderstands the teachings of this school is also clear regarding the object of devotion.”
Nichiko is referencing a portion that shows Nissei misunderstanding Nichiren’s writings in two places—Nissei mistakes the meaning of “the Buddhist statue” Nichiren writes about in “The Object of Devotion for Observing One’s Mind,” and he misunderstands ”the Shakyamuni Buddha of the ‘Life Span’ chapter” Nichiren mentions in “The Unmatched Blessings of the Law.” As a result, Nissei justifies the erection of Shakyamuni’s statue.
Nichiko also declares: “The Rev. Nisshin’s theory of making the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha is revealed in this part. We should not fall prey to this erroneous teaching. ” Here, he refers to Nissei’s concept that “Shakyamuni Buddha of eternal past” should be the object of worship. Pointing out that Nissei is precisely expressing Kozo-in Nisshin of Yobo-ji’s erroneous teaching, Nichiko cautions young priests and lay believers not to be swayed.
Nichiko also added a comment about Nissei’s teaching that the construction of the high sanctuary is fulfilled by erecting and transcribing the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth: “This teacher’s erroneous teaching is revealed here. You should not be confused by it.” Nissei, we can see, was confused not only about the meaning the object of devotion but also about the high sanctuary.
Following Kozo-in Nisshin’s erroneous Discussion About Reciting the Sutra, Nissei went on to teach that the entire Lotus Sutra should be recited as Nichiren Buddhist practice. Nissei thus tainted Fuji Taiseki-ji with the errors of Yobo-ji.
Nichiko commented: “Expanding the auxiliary practice into reciting the entire sutra opposes the special admonition of Nikko Shonin, the founder of Taiseki-ji. You should not follow this theory.”
Indeed, Nissei’s teachings go against the following admonition by Nikko Shonin:
As we discuss the phase of shakubuku now in the Latter Day, we do not recite the entire sutra. We just chant the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo. Even if we may encounter the three powerful enemies, we should not hesitate to refute erroneous teachings by various teachers. (“On Refuting the Erroneous Teachings by Five Priests”).
In “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” Nichikan- completely refuted Kozo-in Nisshin’s erroneous teachings. He did so in an effort to expunge Nissei’s errors from Nichiren Shoshu.
At the start of “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law, Part 1,” Nichikan states: “Question: Should you instruct a beginner of this practice in the Latter Day to recite the entire sutra? Answer: No, you should not.” Also, at the very beginning of Part 2, Nichikan writes: “Question: Should the disciples of Founder Nichiren in the Latter Day create statues of the Buddha with dignified physical features and regard them as objects of devotion? Answer: No, they should not.”
With these statements, Nichikan respectively refuted the very beginning of Discussion about Reciting the Sutra, Kozo-in Nisshin’s leading work, which reads: “Question: Does the round teaching of the Lotus school allow the recitation of the entire sutra? Answer: Yes, it does.” Nichikan also rebutted the beginning of Nisshin’s Discussion About Making Buddhist Statues, which reads: “Question: Does the round teaching of the Lotus school allow the erection of Buddhist statues? Answer: Yes, it does.”
Nichikan purposefully took on Kozo-in Nisshin by writing “The Teaching for the Latter Day of the Law” because he had to refute the Yobo-ji errors that Nissei and others had brought into Nichiren Shoshu. It is an undeniable fact that in the history of Nichiren Shoshu there were high priests like Nissei who upheld erroneous teachings!
Taiseki-ji Survives by Accepting Offerings From Slanderers
Since ancient times, it was believed that by sponsoring a memorial service of 1,000 priests, the emperor, aristocrats, shogun and feudal lords could accumulate good and beneficial causes, and further the enlightenment of their ancestors.
In his later years, Toyotomi Hideyoshi conducted a memorial service with 1,000 priests for an eye-opening ceremony for the colossal statue of the Buddha of Hoko-ji on September 25, 1595.
Priests of the Tendai, Shingon, Ritsu, Zen, Jodo, Nichiren, Ji and Ikko schools were requested to attend this ceremony.
About two weeks before it was held, each Nichiren school in Kyoto was ordered to participate. Various sects gathered at Honkoku-ji in Kyoto to discuss their attendance.
At that time, Nichio of Myokaku-ji, a temple of the Fujufuse school, insisted that they should not accept slanderous offerings, even from the leader of the nation. Rejecting Nichio, all the other schools took part in the memorial service with 1,000 priests. Nichio, who absented himself from the ceremony, submitted “A Letter of Remonstration by Hokke School” to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It reads in part:
This is already the era of Hokke. The capacity of the people of this country is suited to the Lotus Sutra. If so, the Buddhism that protects the nation should be solely the Hokke school. The lord of the country who supports Buddhism should respect the Lotus Sutra alone. If Buddhism and society match each other, the sacred age of this country will surpass the prosperous ancient ages of Togyo and Ryoshun in China. If the True Law and true teachings should spread, your respectable body will live a life of never aging and never dying.
Nichio not only refused to partake in the joint memorial service but also, at the risk of his life, urged Hideyoshi to follow the teaching of his school. The following year, he also remonstrated with Emperor Yozei by submitting “A Letter of Appeal by Hokke School.”
After these incidents, Nichiren-related sects divided into two groups—the Fujufuse school that, centered on Nichio, adamantly refused to accept offerings from slanderers; and schools that did accept those offerings.
It was 1599, one year after Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s death. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had once supported Toyotomi Hideyori, was now establishing himself as the leader who would reign over Japan. He summoned to Osaka Castle representative priests from both sets of Nichiren schools for religious debates. Although he was the debate judge, Tokugawa Ieyasu naturally favored the schools that accepted outside offerings since they would be much easier for national authorities to control than schools that accepted offerings only from believers. Nichio of Myokaku-ji, the Fujufuse school leader was, of course, destined to lose in the debates. At the conclusion, Tokugawa Ieyasu asserted that Nichio was the devil king of the Hokke sect, declaring he would be severely punished. Nichio was stripped of his robe, his juzu beads confiscated on the spot. He was exiled to Tsushima Island half a year later and lived there for thirteen years.
The Fujufuse school was relentlessly persecuted in tandem with Nichio’s exile.
Nichiko tells us how Nichiren Shoshu Taiseki-ji fared:
Local temples were free from the disastrous effects of the 1,000 priests’ participation in the national event held at the edifice of the huge, great Buddha. Therefore, there is no record of the event in the Fuji School. (The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 8)
In those days, every major Buddhist sect, including Nichiren sects, were centered on Kyoto. But Taiseki-ji of the Fuji School managed to remain free of the strife that, triggered by the memorial service participation of 1,000 priests, divided Nichiren schools into two.
As the Tokugawa Era commenced, the shogun government moved from Kyoto to Edo. Kuon-ji, the Minobu sect temple that curried favor with the Tokugawa government, slowly gained power. Under shogunate auspices, the Minobu sect consistently pressured the Fujufuse school temples.
Nichio was pardoned from exile to Tsushima Island in 1612. He returned to Kyoto, strengthening the Fujufuse school and helping to intensify the clash between the two Nichiren groups.
Nichiju of Ikegami Honmon-ji, which belonged to the “non-receiving” side, refused to accept government offerings at the funeral of the wife of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shogun of the Edo government. In contrast, Kuon-ji of Minobu, part of the “receiving” camp, accepted such offerings. Ikegami sued Minobu for receiving such offerings. The Minobu sect filed a countersuit with the Tokugawa government against Ikegami.
There was a religious debate at Edo Castle in February 1630, with six representatives from each side. The government again aligned with the “receiving” school after the precedent set by Tokugawa Ieyasu at Osaka Castle.
Again, the “non-receiving” side lost the debate, and again Nichio, its leader, was to be exiled to Tsushima and stripped of his robe. But Nichio died before the second exile began. Still, his ashes were still sent to Tsushima. The government would not pardon Nichio even in death, relentlessly persecuting the “non-receiving” school. Nichiju of Ikegami was also exiled, and many other senior priests of “non-receiving” schools were banished.
After this debate, the Minobu sect, wielding the power of the Edo government, had local temples of “non-receiving” schools submit to Minobu’s authority. Minobu twice pressured the five major Fuji school temples (Fuji Taiseki-ji, Kitayama Honmon-ji, Nishiyama Honmon-ji, Koizumi Kuon-ji, and Myoren-ji) to declare their intention to receive government offerings in July that same year. The next January and July, Minobu demanded that the five major Fuji schools declare that they belonged to the “receiving” schools.
Minobu sect oppression of the five major Fuji temples lasted for several decades under Tokugawa government protection.
Succumbing to Government Authority, Taiseki-ji Discards Nichiren Daishonin’s Original Teachings
For some time, amid a flurry of accusatory questions from the Minobu school, Taiseki-ji remained unclear what to do, since abandoning the “non-receiving” position meant going against the teachings of Nichiren Daishonin.
But in 1641, during the time of 3rd Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, Taiseki-ji accepted an offering of rice from the government, receiving 66 koku, 8 to, and 5 sho. Taiseki-ji thus chose to avoid persecution in that feudalist society rather than hold steadfast to Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. This was not the only case of Taiseki-ji’s doctrinal backsliding.
In 1665, the government transferred parcels of land to each temple, including Taiseki-ji, and requested a document of acceptance as proof. Taiseki-ji submitted the document acknowledging it would accept the offering. This was during the time of Nitten-.
In these ways, Taiseki-ji chose to abandon Nichiren Daishonin and give in to government authority. Their actions were cowardly in light of the Fujufuse school’s resolute spirit, under Nichio’s leadership, not to accept such offerings.
The document Taiseki-ji submitted to the government reads:
. . . Here is our document to your office. We have received the contribution, which we accept as an offering from the government. We are different from the Fujufuse school in this regard. This is our understanding.
August 21 in the 5th year of Kanbun (1665)
Honmon-ji, Myoren-ji and Taiseki-ji (The Essential Works of the Fuji School, vol. 8).
From this point on, Taiseiki-ji, viewing the government’s property gift as a legitimate offering, satisfied itself by accepting slanderous donations.
The government made these property offerings as a token of appreciation for the faithful role temples played in governing the people on its behalf.
Nichiju of Honman-ji in Kyoto led the “receiving” schools in sheer contrast to the “non-receiving” school of Nichio of Myokaku-ji in Kyoto. (Incidentally, it is Nichiju of Honman-ji who transcribed most of the “rinju mandala” that served as the basis for the “doshi mandala,” which will be addressed in detail in Chapter 3.)
Many actions by today’s Nikken sect, in which the priesthood enslaves believers, derive from Taiseki-ji having developed as a “receiving” sect, contrary to Nichiren’s teachings.
In the Edo Period, the Tokugawa shogunate created a magistrate of temples and shrines to govern the head and branch temples of each sect. To strictly control the people, temples became auxiliary government agencies. And by fixing the laity under the priesthood, priests’ livelihoods were secured.
The shogunate regarded this control system—with the head temple sitting atop all its branches—as absolute. Branch temples, in turn, enslaved lay believers under priesthood authority, controlling them both spiritually and secularly.
Unless guaranteed by the temple to which they belonged to, people could not marry. They could not work, nor could they travel or relocate without temple approval. And the temple had to issue a document validating their identity, to prove they were not Christians.
The temple of the Edo Period thus served as a “thought police” unit to check people’s religious beliefs and also as a governmental office to deal with family registration and residency certification. When believers wanted to visit the head temple, they needed a pilgrimage approval document from their branch temple. This, in fact, is the very system the Nikken sect demands believers follow today for their pilgrimages.
Like with the other sects, Taiseki-ji and its branch temples were placed under the Tokugawa shogunate’s temple and shrine magistrate. They served as part of the national structure to support the shogunate.
The Nikken sect, continuing the history of Nichiren Shoshu controlling its laity, regards priesthood superiority to the laity as part of Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching.
The birth of the danka system, where the temple controls the laity, dates back to when the manorial system came to an end. It was established in the Edo Period as a social institution, a system that enables religion to control the people. The Nikken sect revives this antiquated system today.
Edo Period believers had to visit their respective temples to attend services on designated dates, to request memorial services, and to give monetary offerings in specified amounts for proof-of-identity documents.
With this authority to issue identity assurance, temples had the power to completely control people’s lives. The people would be in jeopardy if their temples did not confirm that they weren’t Christians. Under this government-sanctioned system, priests became affluent, as most lay believers chose to comply.
Taiseki-ji’s Sanmon Gate—Symbol of Cozying Up to National Authority
When you visit Taiseki-ji, you first see the majestic Sanmon Gate. This massive red wooden entryway looks superb on a sunny day with Mount Fuji soaring in the background.
The gate was built through an offering Taiseki-ji received from the government in 1712, during the time of Nichiyu-. The government offering consisted of 1200 nuggets of gold and 70 trees from property the government owned on Mount Fuji (The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School).
The Sanmon Gate has long been regarded as a symbol of the purity of the Fuji school. But actually, this gate serves as a monument to Taiseki-ji’s humiliation for having abandoned Nichiren Daishonin’s correct teachings and accepting slanderous offerings to facilitate its survival.
Temples aligned with the magistrate of temples and shrines played a major role in ruling the populace. The government controlled the people by administrating the spiritual realm through the temple that ceaselessly monitored them to prevent dangerous ideas such as Christianity to grow in Japan.
The government also prohibited people’s conversion from one religion to another. Temples of each sect were thus guaranteed a source of income. This caused corruption at the roots of faith. Lay believers were subordinated to priests, who were government agents.
At the same time, the government feared the corruption of the priests who acted as its agents, the type of corruption, that is, that would not benefit the government. In fact, the government favored priests who lived a mediocre existence without propagating their schools, who wouldn’t create societal disorder, and who wouldn’t seek to marry.
Should the people develop distrust in their priests, it could happen that Christians would multiply in Japanese society. This would prompt further distrust of government. Therefore, the government had the temple and shrine magistrate especially monitor the moral behavior of priests. Still, there were frequent examples of corrupt behavior, such as bringing in women to temple grounds. The vertical system, in which the head temple reigned over its branches, was fully employed to control priests’ behavior.
To build the Sanmon Gate, Taiseki-ji received an enormous amount of money from the wife of a Tokugawa shogun and obtained a special gift of lumber via the temple and shrine magistrate. These facts show that Taiseki-ji was an obedient agent of the government to control people.
Nichiren Daishonin never expounded the Law for the sake of the Kamakura government; he did so for the happiness of the people.
When we say we are not tarnished by the way of secular society, it means we do not accept offerings from slanderous people. We will not be defiled by secular matters, should even king or minister try to give us fief or title of governmental status. (“Miko Kikigaki [Notes Taken by Hearing the Lecture]”)
Pardoned from his exile on Sado, Nichiren returned to Kamakura, and the government intended to donate a temple to him. But he refused the offer. In contrast, Taiseki-ji priests, who were supposed to be Nichiren’s disciples, accepted the government’s offering of lumber and the large monetary gift from the shogun’s wife in order to complete construction of the Sanmon Gate.
The gate, which welcomes pilgrims to Taiseki-ji, is nothing of which Nichiren Shoshu believers should boast; it is merely a remnant of Taiseki-ji’s baseness manifested in cowardice before the Edo shogunate. It symbolizes the huge gap between Taiseki-ji and the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, who, after confronting the Kamakura government for the people’s spiritual welfare, was ready to be executed at Tatsunokuchi and then exiled to desolate Sado Island.
The gate also symbolizes the authoritarian nature of the Nikken sect priesthood, which shamelessly tells sincere lay believers that “they do not deserve an audience with the high priest.” The Sanmon Gate actually signifies that Nichiren Shoshu has deviated from the correct path of faith in Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism.
To know the plight of Taiseki-ji in the Edo Period, we need only read a document titled “A Report,” which Taiseki-ji submitted to Magistrate Egawa Taro Saemon in Sozan, Zushu in June 1838.
Referring to a fire at Taiseki-ji on October 12, 1635, the old document reads:
The main temple, chief priest’s residence, and lodging temples have been reconstructed, but the main gate and five-storied pagoda have to yet be rebuilt.
We made a request to Honda Danjo Shoyu, magistrate of temples and shrines in 1712, during the era of the 6th shogun, Tokugawa Ienobu, about the reconstruction of the Sanmon Gate. As a result, we were offered 70 trees that had been growing on Mount Fuji. We also received 300 ryo [a great sum of money] from the Shogun’s wife, Tennei-in. The Sanmon Gate could then be reconstructed.
This document was written in 1712, during the time of Nichiyu-. His successor was Nichikan-. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School describes the following in conjunction with the construction of the Sanmon Gate. The “70 trees” in this chronology corresponds to the description in the older document above.
The previous Sanmon Gate had burned down in 1635. Taiseki-ji received money and lumber from the government in 1712, so 77 years had passed between these two events.
This indicates how destitute Taiseki-ji had been, and that it was only through collusion with the slanderous Tokugawa government, distorting the fundamental teaching of Nichiren Daishonin, that the Sanmon Gate could be built. The gate perfectly represents a “building-first” Buddhism, where the Law is lost.
Josen-ji, a Major Tokyo Temple, Symbolizes Nichiren Shoshu’s Slander
Branch Temples Also Prosper Through Government Influence
Not only did Taiseki-ji thrive by ingratiating itself with the government and thereby maintaining control over the people. Branch temples also prospered, further distorting Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings in the process. Josen-ji in Mukojima, Edo (Tokyo) was a typical example of a temple flourishing under government authority.
The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School records: “Tendai School’s Priest, Senju-in Nichize founds Josen-ji at Ushijima in Honjo, Edo on February 7, 1596.”
Josen-ji was originally built as a local temple of the Tendai sect instead of Taiseki-ji. The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School explains that Nissei- converted Josen-ji to the Fuji school: “Nissei converted Hongyo-in Nichiyu in December 1638. Thus Josen-ji in Edo became a branch temple of Taiseki-ji . . .”
Josen-ji is referred to in an Edo Period document Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko (The History of Honjo Ward, published by Honjo Ward of Tokyo, on June 25, 1931).
The mountain name of Josen-ji, which is a branch temple of Taiseki-ji of Hokke school at Kamijo Village, Fuji County, Suruga Province, is Kuon-zan, or Mount Kuon. The object of devotion enshrined at Josen-ji is the wooden Gohonzon of the three treasures transcribed by [Nichiyu-]. The founder of Taiseki-ji is Nikko Shonin, one of the six senior priests. The founder of this Josen-ji is Senju-in Nichize.
This description concerns Nikken, 7th chief priest of Josen-ji in the middle of the Edo Period, and the treasures housed in this temple. Of course, Josen-ji was then already a branch of Taiseki-ji after having converted to Nichiren Shoshu.
The following is written in Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko. Nikken, 7th chief priest of Josen-ji, was in Kyoto, and he received patronage from Naishinno, the eldest daughter of the retired emperor, Gosuio. He offered prayers for her sake.
Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko describes these historical facts as follows:
The 7th chief priest of this temple, Nikken, was born in Kyoto. Receiving favor from the first daughter of Emperor Gosuio, Princess Mushina, he was offered the opportunity to pray for her family. When Tennei-in, a daughter of Princess Mushina, got married to the 6th shogun, Tokugawa Ienobu, in 1679, he accompanied her to Kanto, the eastern part of Japan and dwelt at this temple. Later, based on this relationship with Nikken, a prince, a princess, and their attendants were interred at this temple. Because of that, the temple received a property parcel of 3400 tsubo [nearly three acres] in 1710. In the same year, Honjo-in of this temple received a government offering of 30 koku [about 990 pounds] of rice at Kotani Nomura in Nishi-Katsujishi. In 1711, Josen-ji received its main temple and reception hall and living quarters. In 1714, Tennei-in offered to build a main temple at Josen-ji and also contribute a complete set of Buddhist altar fittings, other Buddhist goods and sutras for the reception hall. In the same year, she offered Josen-ji 1500 ryo for construction of the main Josen-ji temple.
These gifts should all be considered offerings from slanderers, including those from Tennei-in. This is because, as I will detail later, Tennei-in seems to have worshipped the statues of Kannon (Perceiver of Sounds), Bishamon (Vaishravana) and Kishimojin (Mother of Demon Children).
At any rate, with a share of wealth from the slanderous government, Josen-ji prospered greatly. The seal of the Tokugawa family, aoi (the hollyhock flower), was incorporated in Josen-ji’s main temple, reception hall, living quarters, and even roof tiles. Nichiren Daishonin, the true Buddha, holding fast to his teaching, staked his life on saving the people and remonstrating selflessly with the Kamakura government. His future disciples used the shogunate’s wealth to embellish their temples, basking in Tokugawa government authority. Josen-ji betrayed the true Buddha’s spirit.
The history of renowned old Josen-ji shows us that its prosperity resulted from Nichiren Shoshu’s collusion with the government and receipt of slanderous offerings. This is the real Nichiren Shoshu history. The pure current of the Fuji school is a fallacy.
Josen-ji Receives Enormous Support and Protection
Corroded by the Tokugawa government, Josen-ji, as a local temple, was endowed with unparalleled government offerings. Behind this extraordinary treatment was Nikken of Josen-ji’s connection with Tennei-in. At the risk of being overly repetitious, I’ll provide an outline of her life.
Tennei-in, who was a great lay supporter of Nichiren Shoshu, was born in Kyoto in 1666. Her father was Konoe Kukimaro, chief adviser to the emperor. Her mother was the eldest daughter of Emperor Gosuio. Tennei-in married Tokugawa Ienobu in 1679.
Nikken was a son of Tennei-in’s nurse, who had been cherished by Tennei-in’s mother since his early days in Kyoto. When Tennei-in moved to Edo to marry into the Tokugawa family, Nikken also moved to Edo as her attendant priest. Soon after, Nikken became 7th chief priest of Josen-ji, and Tennei-in became the temple’s major lay supporter, bringing it sustainable prosperity.
In 1710, an adopted daughter of Ienobu died and, because of the connection between Tennei-in and Nikken, was buried at Josen-ji. The government donated 30 koku of rice and a 3400 tsubo land parcel to Josen-ji on behalf of the deceased daughter.
The 1641 government offering to Taiseki-ji, Josen-ji’s head temple, was 66 koku, 8 to and 5 sho of rice, which demonstrates how extraordinary was the treatment Josen-ji, a mere branch temple, received.
In 1711, Josen-ji was given a reception hall in the main part of Edo Castle. And in 1714, Tennei-in donated 1500 ryo for its main temple construction.
Enjoying enormous support from the government and from Tennei-in, Josen-ji was allowed to use the aoi seal of the Tokugawa family in its main temple, reception hall, living quarters and roof tiles.
Tennei-in died on February 28, 1741. As instructed in her will, her belongings were donated to Josen-ji. It is recorded thusly in The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School:
* In accord with Tennei-in’s wishes, her wooden statue of the Daishonin and the memorial tablets of Prince Kyumiya Tsuneko, Motoaki Konoe, Princess Myokei Nisshin Toyo, Female Server Honjo-in, and Nyozekan-in were dedicated to Josen-ji. A financial offering of 100 ryo was given to the temple on that occasion. This was done without government interference. This should be remembered. March in the first year of Kanpo (1741).
* The mandala that Tennei-in possessed and cherished, which was personally inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin for Nissen, was sent to Josen-ji.
(quoted from The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School, vol. 8)
It seems that even more items from among Tennei-in’s belongings were dedicated to Josen-ji.
Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko (The History of Honjo Ward) states:
A sitting statue of Shakyamuni Buddha—this was made by Emperor Gosuio from the paper upon which he copied the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra. He gave this statue to his first daughter as a memento. This statue was later given to Tennei-in. Hence it was dedicated to this temple.
The statue of sitting Shakyamuni Buddha is referred to in From Edo to Tokyo (by Soun Yata, published by Chuo Bunko) as one of the items dedicated to Josen-ji upon the passing of Tennei-in.
Other treasures dedicated to Josen-ji on behalf of Tennei-in are listed in Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko:
One standing statue of Kannon (Perceiver of Sounds); one standing statue of Bishamon (that belonged to the 6th Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu as an object of worship); four statues of the four heavenly kings that were moved to this temple from Choon-ji in Asakusa around the time of Genbun (1736–41). These six statues were once enshrined separately but were all re-enshrined at the Treasure House after the Buddha’s room was repaired upon the 33rd anniversary of Tennei-in’s passing.
These statues seem to have been enshrined on the donated grounds of Josen-ji while Tennei-in was still alive. Just as in a similar case in Hanno village near the head temple, where the majority of people are Taiseki-ji lay believers, slanderous objects of worship were enshrined at Josen-ji together with the Gohonzon. Josen-ji’s prosperity was thus born out of impurity in faith.
Shinpen Musashi Fudo Kiko describes a Kishimojin (Mother of Demon Children) temple at Josen-ji:
The Kishimojin temple (the statue of Kishimojin donated by Tennei-in), which was originally at Myo’on-ji in Asakusa was later moved to Josen-ji.
The Kishimojin temple exists on the Josen-ji grounds because Tennei-in brought in a Kishimojin statue from Myo’on-ji in Asakusa and enshrined it.
This is another reality of the Fuji School’s “pure current,” which Nichiren Shoshu flaunts. While Fujufuse temples were oppressed relentlessly for rejecting offerings from slanderous sources, Josen-ji enjoyed offerings from the Tokugawa government, boasted about its prosperity and displayed the Tokugawa family seal all around the temple.
Josen-ji was also the site where many slanderous objects such as statues of Kannon, Bishamonten, and the Four Heavenly Kings were enshrined as offerings from Tennei-in. A statue of Kishimojin, which had been removed from a slanderous temple by Tennei-in, was also enshrined at Josen-ji.
Indeed, Josen-ji, which accepted an abundance of these offerings without regard for Nichiren Daishonin’s strict teaching. Josen-ji evidently had the same slanderous roots as the Minobu sect.
Hence, my previous statement that Tennei-in’s offerings were also of slanderous nature.
It seems Tennei-in did not understand Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings. More precisely, the Fuji school of Taiseki-ji priesthood did not correctly teach its major lay supporter Nichiren’s teachings.
Nichiren Shoshu History Steeped in Slanderous Acts
In 1638, Nissei- converted Josen-ji from the Tendai sect to Nichiren Shoshu. The gravely slanderous act of erecting a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha had already been prevalent in Nichiren Shoshu under Nissei. Forty years later, various slanderous objects were enshrined at Josen-ji, a Taiseki-ji branch.
It seems, then, erecting Shakyamuni statues was likely only a tiny portion of the Taiseki-ji school’s slanders. Certainly, other branch temples must have been involved in similar terrible acts.
Tennei-in came to Edo in 1671. At Taiseki-ji, Nichinin- was chief administrator. She died in 1741 while Taiseki-ji was under Nichiin-.
The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School intentionally omits the slanderous facts of Josen-ji.
In the “Prophecy of Enlightenment for Five Hundred Disciples” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni expounded the parable of “the jewel in the robe.”
A poor man came to his friend’s house. Embraced by the host’s hospitality, the poor man got drunk and went to sleep. His friend was suddenly called away on urgent business. Before he left, he sewed a priceless jewel inside the robe of his sleeping friend. Unaware of this, this poor man wandered from country to country struggling to support himself. Exhausted, he returned one day to his friend’s house. Astounded by the poor man’s appearance, his friend asked him about the jewel woven inside his robe. When his friend checked the inside of his robe, he was astonished to find the priceless jewel. From then on, he was able to live a wealthy life thanks to this jewel. (The Great Dictionary of Buddhist Philosophy, New Version, published by Seikyo Press)
In this parable, a man leads the life of an impoverished wanderer, unaware that a jewel had been sewn into his robe. Eventually, a man appears who alerts him to the existence of the jewel. Which man deserves veneration? The answer is very clear. (Interestingly, in Shakyamuni’s teaching, the man who told the wanderer about the existence of the jewel and the man who initially sewed it in his robe are the same person.) The message of this parable applies to the relationship between Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu.
Shakyamuni’s teaching reveals that the Buddha nature is inherent in each person’s life. Like the poor man, Taiseki-ji, immersed in slanderous acts, wandered in ignorance for 700 years. It is, of course, the Soka Gakkai that taught Nichiren Shoshu the existence of the jewel in the robe.
Nissho and Nichikai Attempt to Unite with Slanderous Nichiren Sects
Various Nichiren Shu sects staged a campaign to request from the emperor the title of “Rissho Daishi” (Great Teacher Who Established the Correct Teaching) for Nichiren Daishonin. As a result, this title was bestowed on October 13, 1922.
These Nichiren Shu sects, including Nichiren Shoshu, were delighted to proclaim, “Our founder is now comparable to the Great Teacher Dengyo and the Great Teacher Kobo because he now has the same title.”
It was Nissho Honda of Kempon Hokke who initiated this title campaign. Honda discussed the matter with Chigaku Tanaka, president of Kokuchukai, hoping to acquire the “Great Teacher” title in time for Nichiren’s 700th birthday in 1921.
Tanaka felt that, from the perspective of the spirit of propagation (shakubuku), we should not entreat the emperor to bestow a title of that nature, but from a secular perspective he could agree upon the idea of doing so.
Encouraged by Tanaka’s view, Nissho Honda called out to the chief administrators of other Nichiren Shu sects and initiated the campaign in league with Heihachiro Togo and Tsuyoshi Inukai, both of whom were powerful politicians.
Incidentally, it was not a sudden occurrence that various Nichiren Shu sects joined ranks in 1922. Chief administrators from various Nichiren Shu sects had assembled at Honmon-ji in Ikegami in the early Taisho Period in order to unify into one Nichiren school. A commemorative photo was taken with all the chief administrators present.
The photo was used for the cover of Nisshu Shimpo (November 22, 1914). Unfortunately we have been unable to attain a copy with a clear image, but the caption reads:
Nissho (third from right) poses with chief priests of other sects.
This photo was taken in commemoration of the chief administrators conference on November 8 at Ikegami.
Back row, right to left:
Ho’un Abe (Nichiren Shoshu)
Nisshu Noguchi (Kempon Hokke Shu)
Nisshin Sakai (Nichiren Shu)
Kion Kajiki (Honmon Hokke Shu)
Nichiju Sakai (Hokke Shu)
Nichikan Kondo (Hokke Shu)
Shozan Inoue (Honmon Shu)
Front row, right to left:
Nichikan Hasegawa (Honmyo Hokke Shu Chief Administrator)
Nissho Honda (Kempon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator)
Nissei Sejima (Honmon Shu Chief Administrator)
Nichiji Koizumi (Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator)
Nissho Abe (Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator)
Nichigaku Fujiwara (Hokke Shu)
Chiko Mori (Honmon Hokke Shu)
The gray robes of Nichiren Shoshu stand out in this photo. Nissho- and Ho’un Abe (Nichikai-) clearly visited Honmon-ji in Ikegami to join these other slanderous priests who were descendants in faith of the Five Senior Priests and discuss practical matters for uniting all Nichiren schools.
The first preliminary unification committee meeting was held November 24, 1914, with representatives from each sect. The basic policy toward unification had been unanimously agreed upon earlier at the Ikegami meeting on November 8. On behalf of Nichiren Shoshu, Nissho signed the document in support of unification.
Although, ultimately, these unification efforts soon collapsed, it did not mean the cessation of all efforts to unite Nichiren sects.
In the interim, Japan had won the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and World War I. The national mood was very upbeat following that series of victories, and common among all Nichiren schools in those days was that they wanted to show their unity with the emperor, responding to the great success of his ventures.
Their unity resulted not from pursuit of doctrinal purity based on Nichiren Daishonin’s original teaching; it was a product of their urgent sense that while divided they would lessen their significance in society compared to Buddhist schools such as Nembutsu, Shingo and Zen, whose efforts for the country’s welfare were better acknowledged. They were also irritated because Shintoism had been rapidly gaining momentum since the 1868 Meiji Restoration.
In other words, their unification efforts were based upon irritation and desperation to establish social status under the modern emperor system. They overtly moved toward unification, setting aside both the profound confrontation between “receiving” and “non-receiving” schools that had lingered since the Edo Period and their pronounced doctrinal differences.
The November 8 chief administrators’ conference was the first signal of their spiritual corruption.
Despite continual deadlocks, the intention to unify all Nichiren schools resurfaced again and again for the purpose of establishing themselves firmly as a singular entity in the social system headed by the emperor.
Nissho Poses for Commemorative Photo With Other Slanderous Chief Administrators
One conspicuous move that took place after the chief administrators’ conference at Ikegami was the seeking of the “Rissho Taishi” title for Nichiren Daishonin.
On September 11, 1922, in order to have Nichiren Daishonin receive the same honorific as had Dengyo and Kobo, the chief administrators of the various Nichiren sects put their signatures together on a document titled “Request for the Bestowal of the Title ‘Rissho Taishi’ Upon Sage Nichiren.”
Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nisshin Kawai
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Abe
Kempon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Honda
Honmon Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissei Sejima
Honmon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Ozaki
Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Tsuda
Honmyo Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nisshu Kiyose
Nichiren Shu Fujufuse School Chief Administrator and High Priest Shaku Nichige
Nichiren Shu Fujufuse Komon School Chief Administrator and Senior Priest Nitchu Sato
In response to this petition, the Imperial Bureau mailed each chief administrator a notice reading: “Please gather at the Imperial Ministry at 10 a.m. on the 13th, as the requested title will be bestowed upon Nichiren, Founder of Nichiren Shu.”
The following eight priests visited the Imperial Bureau on October 13 of that same year, the anniversary day of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing:
Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator Nichien Isono
Nichiren Shoshu Chief Administrator Nissho Abe
Kempon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator Nissho Honda
Honmon Hokke Shu Chief Administrator Nissho Ozaki
Nichiko Inoue on behalf of Honmon Shu Chief Administrator Nissei Sejima
Nichiji Arakawa on behalf of Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nissho Tsuda
Junryo Renchi on behalf of Honmyo Hokke Shu Chief Administrator and High Priest Nisshu Kiyose
Nichiyo Washi on behalf Nichiren Shu Fujufuse School Chief Administrator Shaku Nichige
The Imperial Bureau minister presented each with a copy of a declaration that read:
To the chief administrator of each Nichiren school:
As a special consideration, the title of ’Rissho Taishi’ shall be bestowed upon Nichiren, founder of your respective Nichiren schools.
October 13 in the 13th year of Taisho
Ministry of Imperial Bureau
After receiving this declaration and an attached note, Nissho Honda, the Kempon Hokke Shu chief administrator, received the framed “imperial calligraphy” on behalf of all the chief administrators. Then, they all departed for Suikosha in Tsukiji, Tokyo.
Suikosha was an organization for the socialization and welfare of marine officers. Here, led by Nichiren Shu Chief Administrator Nichien Isono, they recited the “Life Span” chapter and chanted daimoku together.
It fully discredits the various expressions the Nikken sect has used over the years to enslave its lay believers—expressions such as “the transmission of the heritage,” “the pure water of the Law transmitted from one vessel to another through the lineage of high priest,” “the pure current of the Fuji school,” “the legitimate tradition of 700 years,” “the correct formalities and teachings of this school,” and “the strict admonition against the slander of the Law” no longer apply.
This photo, from October 13, 1922, which seems to be taken in front of Suikosha, is actual proof of Nissho- fraternizing with these slanderous priests instead of refuting their erroneous teachings.
Even if a Nichiren Shoshu high priest had received the heritage of the school through the lineage of successive high priests, it would not mean he automatically inherited the lifeblood of Nichiren Daishonin and the spirit of Nikko Shonin. What’s important is one’s faith itself!
Nissho Abe died on August 18, 1923, from a malignant tumor developed on the bottom of his chin in autumn 1922, the year he participated in entreating the emperor to bestow the title of “Great Teacher” upon Nichiren. From a Buddhist perspective, this can be viewed as a result of slander of the Law.
What is noteworthy here is that Nichiren Shoshu did not take issue with its chief administrator reciting the sutra led by a top official of the slanderous Nichiren Shu. Clearly, until the Soka Gakkai appeared, Nichiren Shoshu had no notion of “the pure current of the Fuji school.”
The Minobu sect played a chief role in obtaining the emperor’s bestowal of the “Rissho Taishi” title. Through this joint endeavor, the Minobu sect succeeded in creating the impression that it was at the center of all the various Nichiren sects.
Nichikai Signs Nichiren Shu Petition Requesting Imperial Frame
In 1931, Nichiren Shu concocted the idea of asking the emperor to bestow the title of “Rissho Taishi” upon Nichiren Daishonin just before the 650th anniversary of his passing. Behind this was the intent to use the cover of the emperor’s auspices to regain Nichiren Shu’s past prosperity.
When he was reciting from the “Life Span” chapter and chanting daimoku at Suikosha in Tsukiji, Nisshin Sakai (then Nichiren Shu general administrator, who became chief administrator in 1926) developed a plan to officially request the emperor write the characters for “Rissho” and have the calligraphy framed to hang at Nichiren Daishonin’s memorial hall at Mount Minobu.
By obtaining such an imperial frame, Nichiren Shu sought to dignify the ceremony it was planning in commemoration of Nichiren’s passing. Toward this end, the following actions were taken:
* Nisshin Sakai visited Chigaku Tanaka, president of Kokuchukai, with two other priests on June 24, 1930 to ask Tanaka to draft a petition for conferral of this imperial frame.
* Chigaku Tanaka began a draft on February 16, 1931, and completed the document on March 15.
* On March 16, Chigaku Tanaka called on Nisshin Sakai at Honmon-ji in Ikegami. After going over the document, they chose Gentei Katano, chief priest of Daiko-ji in Kamakura, to create a final, clean copy for submission to the emperor.
* On March 17, Nisshin Sakai gave final approval to the document at Honmon-ji in Ikegami.
* On March 18, Chigaku Tanaka brought the document to Kuon-ji at Mount Minobu. Kuon-ji chief priest Nikki Okada approved it and affixed his signature. They then decided to take this entreaty to the Imperial Bureau on April 3, the day of the celebration of the first emperor, Jinmu. In the afternoon, they recited the document at the tomb of Nichiren and chanted daimoku.
* On the early morning of April 3, Gentei Katano, chief priest of Daiko-ji in Kamakura, completed a final, clean copy of this 5600-word petition. Titled “Request for the Bestowal of Imperial Frame in Commemoration of the 650th Anniversary of Great Teacher of Rissho,” it was submitted to the emperor under the name of Minobu’s Nikki Okada.
The petition reads:
. . . On October 13 in the 11th year of Taisho, we came to have the heavenly honor of receiving imperial agreement on the bestowal of the title of “Great Teacher of Rissho” upon our founder. However, the condition of our country has been worsening in recent years, and the people’s decadence is also increasing. National hardships occur both inside and outside the country. People are losing their sense of security.
With this imperial frame by the emperor, Nichiren Shu sought to put itself at the center of all Nichiren schools; to substantiate the idea, with the emperor’s support, that Nichiren Daishonin’s interment site was the holiest place for all Nichiren schools.
This maneuver further showed the Minobu school of Nichiren Shu in its willingness to utilize national authority to preserve its powerful social status. In the Edo Period, Minobu, backed by the Tokugawa government, persecuted the Fujufuse school in order to usurp its head and branch temples.
The petition for conferral of the imperial frame was submitted to Kitokuro Itsuki, minister of the Imperial Bureau, on April 4, 1931. At the same time, a copy of the petition was submitted to Ryuzo Tanaka of the Ministry of Education.
Soon after, the education ministry sent a notice to Nichiren Shu, urging it to get approval from all other Nichiren school chief administrators regarding conferral of the imperial frame upon Kuon-ji of the Minobu school.
Eiju Myoritsu, general affairs director of Nichiren Shu, lost no time in visiting each Nichiren school to have the chief administrator sign a document that waived objection to the conferral upon Minobu. The document reads:
As to the request for bestowal of the imperial frame to be presented in commemoration of the 650th anniversary of the passing of our Founder, Great Teacher of Rissho, submitted by Nikki Okada, chief priest of Kuon-ji of Mount Minobu in Yamanashi prefecture, where [the founder’s gravesite] is, we are all in agreement. We each sincerely ask you to process this matter toward realization.
Nichikai of Nichiren Shoshu signed this document on June 12, 1931. The chief administrator of each Nichiren school submitted a signed memorandum of shared understanding to Ryuzo Tanaka, minister of education.
Nichikai Affirms Nichiren Daishonin’s Remains at Mount Minobu
Behind Myoritsu’s successful visit to each chief administrator was a certain situation to which Chigaku Tanaka refers in The Biography of Chigaku Tanaka (published by Shishio Bunko).
Then, we submitted a petition to the Ministry of the Imperial Bureau. I met with Minister Miyauchi. I explained clearly to the Itsuki Imperial Minister and told him that I understood the petition would come via the Ministry of Education. I asked him to execute this matter. He replied that since he was still new in his position, he wondered if there had been any precedent in this matter. I told him there were several precedents and cited examples where an imperial frame had been bestowed. For instance, the imperial frame of Great Teacher of Shoyo was given to the Dogen Zen Master during the era of the Meiji Emperor. Another imperial frame was given to Mount Obaku of Uji. He replied that as long as there were such precedents, there shouldn’t be any trouble in handling this case, and that he would try his best since he himself felt it only natural that somebody like Sage Nichiren receive such an honor.
Afterwards, the Imperial Ministry asked us if Sage Nichiren’s cemetery existed at Minobu. I replied affirmatively because in fact Sage Nichiren’s cemetery was there at Minobu. Then, the Imperial Ministry asked each school of Nichiren if they could agree with there was a cemetery of Sage Nichiren at Minobu. This prior agreement from each Nichiren school chief administrator was necessary because the schools tended argue among one another. The Imperial Ministry had to be careful in this regard. Since it is a fact that Minobu has the sage’s cemetery, all chief administrators expressed consent, which made things easier. A telegram from the Imperial Ministry announced its approval on the day of the kaibyaku-e ceremony that commemorates the Daishonin’s entry into Mount Minobu.
Before conferral, the Minister of Education considered it an absolute necessity for all other Nichiren schools to agree not only that Nichiren’s remains existed at Mount Minobu but also that the emperor was specifically conferring the frame upon the Minobu school. The minister therefore requested that each chief administrator sign a memorandum of shared understanding.
On June 23, 1931, Kitokuro Itsuki, Minister of the Imperial Bureau, sent a notice to Ryuzo Tanaka that a decision was made to confer the imperial frame upon the Minobu school.
On June 26, 1931, Masao Nishiyama, Director of the Bureau of Religion in the Ministry of Education, sent a notice of the imperial decision to Nisshin Sakai. The Nichiren Shu Minobu school then notified priesthood and laity at all branch temples to start preparations for a ceremony celebrating receipt of the imperial frame.
Overjoyed at the imperial decision, Nichiren Shu issued a notice to all Nichiren Shu priests and lay believers of under the name of the chief administrator on July 28. From this notice, you can discern the true voice of Nichiren Shu in regard to the imperial frame.
There should be only one great cemetery of our founder. Not two. Not three. This is the center of the school’s seeking spirit. It is the ultimate location of his supreme soul. Therefore, soon after the founder died, the six senior priests discussed among themselves a system to attend to his tomb. They thus served their mentor strictly. This system was later revised so that the chief priest of Mount Minobu would exclusively take care of the founder’s cemetery. The cemetery of the founder is not merely a cemetery on Mount Minobu. It is the cemetery of the entire Nichiren school.
Obvious here is the Minobu school ambition to be the center of all Nichiren schools through affirming the existence of Nichiren’s gravesite. We can also sense the upbeat mood over the news of the imperial frame. It is a historical fact that there was a man like Nichikai who supported this move by the slanderous Minobu school.
Nichikai Abe not only didn’t object to the emperor’s conferral of the “Rissho” frame but also, by signing a memorandum of shared understanding, he concurred with the idea that Nichiren’s ashes existed at slanderous Mount Minobu.
Profound Sin Committed by Faithless Nichikai
On September 19, 1931, the Imperial Bureau sent a letter of invitation to Nikki Okada, asking him to appear at the Bureau on October 1 to receive the imperial frame. On that day, Nichiren Shu priests, including Nisshin Sakai, chief administrator, and Nikki Okada, chief priest of Kuon-ji, received the frame at the Bureau. Afterward, with the frame, they joined some 6,000 Nichiren Shu priests and lay believers outside the imperial castle, and paraded together to Honmon-ji in Ikegami, where a giddy congratulatory ceremony was conducted.
The imperial frame was then carried on a chartered overnight train from Tokyo, through Fujinomiya, arriving at the Minobu Station at 3:40 a.m. At every station along the Minobu line, Minobu school priests and lay believers chanted daimoku, each person beating a celebratory drum.
On October 2, the following day, an enshrinement ceremony was conducted at the hall of the founder at Mount Minobu. Newspapers covered the ceremonial events at Ikegami and Mount Minobu extensively.
The conferral of the imperial frame upon Minobu was thus conducted on a national scale to commemorate the 650th anniversary of Nichiren Daishonin’s passing. It was a grand event through which Nichiren Shu, wielding the power and dignity of the emperor, put the founder’s burial site at the center of all Nichiren schools. In contrast, a very minor ceremony was conducted at Taiseki-ji for the same occasion of Nichiren’s anniversary with some support from the local fire station.
The corruption of Nichikai Abe- becomes ever clearer as we see him so easily manipulated by the Minobu school. Where was his faith? His action was an obvious case of complacency. Not only that, he contributed to covering the sin committed by the five senior priests, who disregarded Nikko Shonin’s assignment system for attending to Nichiren’s burial site.
Nichikai should have insisted that there were no actual ashes and no legitimate burial place of Nichiren Daishonin at Mount Minobu. He should have contended that the imperial frame was therefore meaningless there. Yet, as Kuon-ji of Mount Minobu explained:
The Founder’s cemetery was built in accord with his will. The five-storied tomb, built at the time of his passing, is contained in the pagoda. His ashes are kept in the room’s basement. Since this is the tomb of the Founder, it is called the Founder’s cemetery. Believers seeking the Founder visit here ceaselessly day and night. (Mount Minobu Kuon-ji, published by Mount Minobu Kuon-ji)
In no way would Nikko Shonin, founder of Taiseki-ji, accept Nichikai’s signing of the memorandum officially approving Nichiren Shu’s claim that it had Nichiren Daishonin’s ashes on Mount Minobu.
Nichijun’s “Refuting the Theory That Founder’s Cemetery Should Be the Center” (Complete Works of Nichijun Shonin, Part 2) highlights Nichikai’s error:
There is a theory among the disciples of Nichiren Daishonin that Mount Minobu should be the center of his school because it is where he lived his life, because he built Kuon-ji there, because he said that his cemetery should be built at Minobu, and because, therefore, his spirit is at Mount Minobu. This theory is easy to accept publically since Mount Minobu possesses Nichiren Daishonin’s mementoes. I’ve seen this theory being supported in recent years.
At first glance, this theory sounds very natural to human sentiments and would not seem to cause much trouble. A deeper consideration reveals, however, that it in fact concerns whether we can maintain the integrity of the Daishonin’s doctrines. For this reason, the idea that Minobu should be the center of Nichiren Buddhism must be rooted out and dispensed with. Because, to respect Mount Minobu as the site of Nichiren Daishonin’s memory and mementoes, is to approve and uphold its confused and tarnished object of devotion and its doctrines. Such behavior, which runs counter to the Daishonin, marks the first step of slander.
According to Nichijun, then, by affirming Minobu as Nichiren Daishonin’s resting place, Nichikai took a major first step into the realm of slander.
How did other Nichiren schools react to the glory Minobu enjoyed over the frame conferral?
There is no description of the conferral in Dai-Nichiren, the Nichiren Shoshu organ. It does not touch upon Nichikai signing the memorandum to the Ministry of Education. A small article did appear, however, in Light of Myo, the newspaper of Myoko-ji in Tokyo, a Nichiren Shoshu branch.
The imperial frame is now going to be bestowed upon Mount Minobu, the head temple of Nichiren Shu. Those involved are discussing how to implement this honorable event. Because Nichiren Shu is large, and because it has been engaged in activities to benefit society, this honor will be given to the Minobu school. As priests of this legitimate school that carries the Daishonin’s correct teachings, I think we should ponder this reality seriously. (June 16, 1931, issue)
We can sense the chagrin over Minobu’s triumph. But with only about 50 branch temples, Nichiren Shoshu’s existence was so puny that Minobu didn’t care what it said.
The article’s author may have had no idea of the support that Nichikai, the chief administrator of the school he belonged to, gave to Minobu by signing the memorandum. Nichikai Abe, by submitting his agreement, essentially threw dung at the faces of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin! It was a betrayal of all the Buddha’s disciples.
How in the world did Nichikai view Nikko Shonin’s departure from Mount Minobu, an excruciating decision made with the fiercest determination to protect the purity of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism? Why would he curry favor with the slanderous Nichiren Shu?
All the priesthood and laity of Nichiren Shoshu had to suffer the same shame because of the support Nichikai, the high priest, gave the Minobu school. It took the Soka Gakkai to later erase this shame.
The Soka Gakkai, which had been carrying out a courageous propagation movement under the leadership of President Toda, extended its battlefront as far as Otaru, on Hokkaido. On March 11, 1955, the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shu Minobu had a debate in Otaru. The Soka Gakkai emerged victorious, having thoroughly refuted the slanderous Minobu teachings.
With this Otaru Debate, the Minobu school advantage over Taiseki-ji was shattered, gone for the first time since the Muromachi and Edo periods.
Nichikai Abe, A Monstrous High Priest, Decimates the Teaching of the Law
From the Taisho to the early part of Showa era, Ho’un Abe, who became Nichikai-, and was the father of Nikken Abe, was a constant source of internal strife at Nichiren Shoshu in conjunction with the high priest position. As explained in Chapter 1, Nichikai authored the coup in which Nitchu- was brought down.
Ho’un Abe was the general administrator, the number-two Nichiren Shoshu position, in 1925. Stripped of this position by Nitchu, he also lost the priesthood rank of noke, which meant losing the chance to become high priest. He likely developed an enormous grudge against Nitchu over that.
Ho’un Abe was demoted as general administrator seemingly because of his inferior rebuttal of a comment by Ryozan Shimizu, a Komazawa University professor, in a June 1925 publication specializing in religious matters. In the world of Nichiren Shu, Shimizu was regarded a learned scholar, who seemingly had priesthood status in the Minobu school.
It was only natural for Ho’un Abe to rebut Shimizu, which he did in a six-page article in the July 1925 issue of Dai-Nichiren, Nichiren Shoshu’s magazine, under the title “Admonishing Mr. Shimizu Ryozan.” Abe’s article later became a big problem within Nichiren Shoshu.
Here is a portion of that problematic article:
Therefore, our Founder states, ‘As for my teachings, regard those before my exile to the province of Sado as equivalent to the Buddha’s pre-Lotus Sutra teachings.’ In the pre-Sado period, the Daishonin exclusively refuted only Zen and Nembutsu, refraining from referring to Shingon (including Tendai Shingon).
While Founder Daishonin was an exile on Sado, still in the period of practicing his teachings, he did not yet reveal his true teachings. Therefore, on Sado he did not even disclose the idea of the Three Great Secret Laws.
It is commonly understood among his disciples that Nichiren Daishonin engaged in refuting the Shingon teachings even before his Sado exile. It would be bizarrely erroneous to contend that he did not reveal his important teachings on Sado, which followed the Tatsunokuchi Persecution, because he was still polishing his practice. Nichiren himself says that Tatsunokuchi was the moment when he revealed his true identity as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Yet, according to Ho’un Abe, Nichiren was still in the process of developing his own faith and practice on Sado.
There are quite a few other strange theories in “Admonishing Mr. Ryozan Shimizu.” Not only did Abe run opposite to the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin, he also became a laughingstock to other schools. It stood to reason that Nitchu had to demote him from the position of noke.
But there was an even deeper reason why Ho’un Abe was demoted as general administrator, which, it seems, was his priestly behavior.
Emblematic of this was the existence of his “love child.” In 1922, while general administrator, he had clandestinely fathered a child. He was 49, and his mistress, 26. The adulterous Ho’un Abe, was a precept-breaking priest.
But Abe did not acknowledge having a child with a woman 23 years his junior, which would have exposed his sin of a sexual affair. Six years after fathering this child behind the scenes, he was inaugurated as 60th Nichiren Shoshu high priest.
Nikko Shonin’s “Twenty-six Admonitions” states:
My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master. However, even if a high priest or a priest of profound practice and understanding deviates form the [principle of] sexual abstinence, he may still be allowed to remain in the priesthood [as a common priest without rank].
Ho’un Abe trampled upon the spirit of Nikko Shonin’s admonitions. His affairs and secret fathering of a child severely dishonored the True Buddha, because Nichikai was a high priest, who automatically claimed inheritance of the heritage of Nichiren Buddhism, Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin. The epithet “Law-destroying monster” is precisely applicable to Nichikai.
Another interesting fact: Ho’un Abe’s birthday was August 23, 1873, which means he was married at age 15, in 1888. About a year later, he was divorced and became an acolyte shortly after. Behind the fact his becoming a priest was a complicated issue involving another woman.
Nichikai Acknowledges Nobuo (Nikken) Upon Taking Office
It was only natural that Ho’un Abe deserved Nitchu’s rebuke for his inappropriate, adulterous behavior. Nonetheless, Abe held a grudge over his July 1925 demotion and quickly schemed to unseat Nitchu as high priest, getting a majority of assembly members to side with him. (Both Ho’un Abe and his son, Nikken Abe, shared the trait of getting easily upset when people pointed out their errors; they each responded by attacking with rage.)
In November, only four months later, with the power of an assembly majority, Abe pressured Nitchu into expressing an intent to retire. The next year, he completed his coup to oust Nitchu.
Ho’un Abe was a wickedly talented schemer and political schemer. Factional strife was much more intense within Nichiren Shoshu than today. The sect was so corrupt that intimidation and bribery were the order of the day as priests pursued the position of high priest.
Abe arranged it so that Nichiko temporarily became high priest. He finally became high priest in June 1928 through maneuvering and a corrupted election. Upon taking office as high priest, he acknowledged Nobuo as his son. Nobuo had been born on December 19, 1922, but it wasn’t until June 27, 1928, when Nobuo was 5, that Abe accepted him as his legal child. After becoming a priest, Nobuo changed his name to Shinno. Later in life, he would become the Nichiren Shoshu high priest Nikken Abe.
Nobuo had been born to Ho’un Abe and Suma Hikosaka, a woman working as a maid at Josen-ji. Nikken recalled his childhood at a daimoku session on August 8, 1979, commemorating the seventh day since the passing of Nittatsu-.
Reviewing the history of the high priest (Nittatsu), he was at Josen-ji in Tokyo before he became a priest. A few years later, he became a priest and disciple of Nissho Shonin. Later, he returned to Josen-ji, where he seems to have served. At that time, my mother was close to the Rev. Nichikai. She was working at the kitchen of Josen-ji . . .” (Dai-Nichiren, September 1979 issue).
Nittatsu was an acolyte at Josen-ji in 1922. According to Nikken’s recollection, Suma Hikosaka was then working in the Josen-ji kitchen.
Since Nikken was born that December, it confirms that Nichikai had had sexual relations with a 25-year-old kitchen worker. Obviously, this is a case of an illicit affair, and Ho’un Abe should be branded as a precept-breaking priest.
Suma Hikosaka’s mother was Bun Hikosaka. After getting divorced, she gave birth to Suma and a son from a different father. While Bun’s son was legally accepted by his father, no one acknowledged Suma.
Suma Hikosaka, it seems, converted to Nichiren Shoshu when she was 20. Before becoming a believer, she had been a member of Tenrikyo, a Christian and a member of Kokuchukai. Perhaps, because of her family background, Suma spent her late teens exploring one religion after another.
In, 1921, at age 24, Suma began to work at Josen-ji. At that time, Ho’un Abe was 48.
Nichiren Shoshu Priests Had No Intention of Abiding by Nikko Shonin’s Admonitions
A document reports on the environment at Josen-ji when Ho’un Abe was its chief priest. Amid the election campaign for high priest, the Koga Arimoto group issued a declaration against the Abe group dated March 13, 1928. It made public the following description of Abe’s behavior:
Of course, twenty or thirty years ago, regarding immature priests not well versed in this school’s doctrines, the school neither bestowed the title of noke upon them nor let them become chief priests of excellent temples. The Rev. Abe, however, shamelessly resided at Josen-ji. Relinquishing himself to his earthly desires as he comported adulterously with a maid, he disgraced Nichiren Daishonin, founder of this Buddhism, and Nikko Shonin, founder of Taiseki-ji. Acting as if not involved in any wrongdoing, he carried out an unseemly campaign to assume the roles of chief administrator and high priest. How can he judge right and wrong regarding the teachings of this school? How can he manage the priesthood and laity of this school? As we know how scandalous he behaved in the Josen-ji yard and how immature he is in his grasp of the teachings, we cannot allow him to lead this school. For him to take control of this school in the capacity of chief administrator and high priest would be a great mishap.
The Arimoto group criticizes Nichikai (Abe) as being immature and ignorant of Nichiren Daishonin’s teachings, using extraordinarily intense language to point out Nichikai’s terrible behavior:
He is unable to control his compulsion to have affairs with the maids despite his relationship with his wife and child.
As of March 1928, Suma Hikosaka and Nobuo were acknowledged as Nichikai’s legal family members, and it seems they were accepted as such within Nichiren Shoshu.
But we should pay special attention to the “the maids,” which implies that Nichikai was having sexual relations not only with his wife but also with at least one other maid at Josen-ji. Rumors of this spread disdainfully throughout Nichiren Shoshu.
The Arimoto group disparaged Nichikai’s Josen-ji lifestyle as being an act of “disgracing both the Daishonin and Nikko Shonin.” This declaration takes issue with the corruption at Josen-ji, severely points out Nichikai’s unsuitability as a high priest who endeavors to hide the ugliness of his behavior.
What was Josen-ji like when Abe was chief priest?
Because the Arimoto group is publicly criticizing Abe’s behavior in a formal document, the declaration accusations must not have been groundless. Judging from this, Ho’un Abe was likely having sexual relations with more than one woman on the grounds of Josen-ji.
Suma Hikosaka, who gave birth to Nikken, became a nun in May 1935. Her Buddhist name was Myoshu. She legally became a member of the Abe family on February 10, 1938.
Even in other slanderous Buddhist sects, nuns are supposed to be unmarried. But Nun Myoshu, who became Nichiren Shoshu’s last nun, was married to none other than the high priest of her time.
The fact that the high priest was married to a nun symbolized the Nichiren Shoshu departure from the view that priests and nuns should be single and celibate. Today, no one in Nichiren Shoshu thinks that being single is a prerequisite for a priest.
Myoshu (Suma Hikosaka) on the left, front row is Nikken’s mother. Nikken’s father is 60th high priest Nichikai on the right, front row.
Nikko Shonin states in “Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikko”: “My disciples should conduct themselves as holy priests, patterning their behavior after that of the late master.”
Nichikai and Myoshu publically trampled upon the spirit of this admonition.
Perhaps because of the bad influence of Nichikai and Myoshu, the awful priests who dwell within Nichiren Shoshu have no intention of taking Nikko Shonin’s admonitions seriously and abiding by them. The spirit of Nikko’s admonitions has long ago departed from Nichiren Shoshu.
The admonitions further read: “Those who violate even one of these articles cannot be called disciples of Nikko.”
Accordingly, the priests and their family members have long been severed from Nikko Shonin. This is indeed emblematic of a time when the Law is said to have perished; irrationally asserting superiority over the laity, Nichiren Shoshu, while assuming the appearance of priests, excommunicated the Soka Gakkai, the children of the Buddha.
Nichiren Shoshu Is Disconnected From Kosen-rufu
Strife, Conflict, and Division Abound Since the Passing of Nichimoku
Taiseki-ji has a long history as part of the slanderous Nichiren Shu, but its history is rather short as a correct school (shoshu) of Nichiren Buddhism. It was in September 1900 that Taiseki-ji separated from the slanderous Honmon Shu and became the Fuji school of Nichiren Shu.
Switching to the name “Nichiren Shoshu” took place as recently as June 1922. The notion of “the pure current of the Fuji school” is therefore a fallacy. We must not be fooled by the sanitized, revisionist history of Nichiren Shoshu Taiseki-ji.
The Nikken sect priesthood’s self-righteous insistence that it is permissible to sanitize its own historical record must be severely taken to task. In truth, the history of Nichiren Shoshu is not 700 years long. It only includes the time period since it began calling itself the Fuji School of Nichiren Shu in the early 20th century.
The Nikken sect claims that the Soka Gakkai, by being excommunicated by Nichiren Shoshu, has just become a new religion. By that logic, Nichiren Shoshu must also be a new religion for having seceded from the slanderous Honmon Shu in the latter Meiji Period (1868–1912).
While the Gakkai has been gloriously promoting kosen-rufu for 60 some years, Nichiren Shoshu, for the past 80 to 90 years, has been disconnected from the undertaking of kosen-rufu, as it has been saddled with the baggage from slanderous actions since it was part of the erroneous Nichiren Shu.
Next, I will sum up the dramatized history of Nichiren Shoshu, the record of its actions to destroy Nichiren Buddhism, and the dynamic propagation and restoration of Nichiren Daishonin’s True Law under the Soka Gakkai.
According to Nichiren Shoshu, after Nikko Shoniin died, the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin was carried on by Nichimoku, then by Nichido and the other successive high priests up to the current time. Nikko Shonin, however, had many disciples including the six senior disciples (Nichimoku, Nikke, Nisshu, Nichizen, Nissen, and Nichijo) and the six junior disciples (Nichido, Nichidai, Nitcho, Nichimyo, Nichigo, and Nichijo).
All these disciples propagated Nichiren Buddhism in their respective locales, and some even built temples. The Nikko school (Fuji school) is the overall name of the temples, including Taiseki-ji and Kitayama Honmon-ji, which Nikko and his disciples founded. The Nikko school history was a succession of internal strife, confrontation and division. The pure current of faith, which originated from Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, was at times interrupted, and at other times diluted with the muddy flow of slander. In fact, for many years before the appearance of the Soka Gakkai, the so-called “pure current of the Fuji school” was nowhere to be found.
Soon after Nichimoku died at Tarui in Mino province, there arose a confrontation between Nichido and Nichigo about the property of Taiseki-ji. Another Nikko school incident involved the banishment of Nichidai (one of the six junior disciples of Nikko) from Omosu because of an argument he had with Nissen (one of the six elder priests) over the recitation of the “Expedient Means” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. As these examples show, the Nikko (Fuji) school was afflicted with conflicts, hostility, confrontation, battle and division. In no way was it an orderly, nationwide organization. It was nothing but a minor body of splintered schools propounding both the pure as well as slanderous teachings.
In the Edo Period, Taiseki-ji was not acknowledged as an independent religious entity by the Tokugawa government. It was regarded as a minor school that belonged to the “superior-inferior (shoretsu)” school of Nichiren Shu. Taiseki-ji was thus lumped together with the Shinmon school, the Jinmon school and others.
In 1632 and 1633, the Tokugawa government institutionalized a head-branch temple system and created a list of all head and branch temples. The original copy of this list is now preserved at the Government Library.
This is the only data available about the Kan’ei era in the Edo Period, a temple-system list dated January 1634, which contains a section concerning Nichiren Shu schools’ head and branch temples:
Kuon-ji at Mount Minobu, Koshu province, and its branch temples.
Myosen-ji and its branch temples.
Honryu-ji and its branch temples.
Honkoku-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Jakko-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Honno-ji in Rakuyo and its branch temples.
Hozen-ji in Rakuyo and its branch temples.
Myoken-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Myoden-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Yobo-ji at Nijo in Rakuyo and its branch temples.
Rippon-ji in Kyoto and its branch temples.
Myoren-ji and its branch temples.
Taiseki-ji and its branch temples are not listed here. It is not known why. Perhaps it is because of governmental error or negligence by Taiseki-ji.
This head-branch temple list came into existence in complete form in the 6th year of Tenmei (1786). The original of this list does not exist today, but a copy is preserved at Shokokan Library in Mito.
This list includes the description, “Taiseki-ji school head and branch temples.” Taiseki-ji is listed together with Kuon-ji in Koizumi; Honmon-ji in Kitayama; Honmon-ji in Nishiyama; and Kocho-ji as being part of the Hokke “Superior-Inferior” school. In the Edo Period, Taiseki-ji was not an independent entity. (Note: The label “superior-inferior” denotes a school where the essential teachings (honmon) are considered superior to the theoretical teachings (shakumon).)
Taiseki-ji Was Still With Slanderous Nichiren Shu During Meiji Period
In 1868, all Nichiren schools were unified under two schools—the “oneness” (icchi) school and the “superior-inferior” (shoretsu) school. Then, in 1876, the superior-inferior school was further divided into five—the Nikko, Myoman-ji, Honsei-ji, Happon, and Honryu-ji schools.
At that time, Taiseki-ji joined the slanderous Nichiren Shu Nikko school, becoming one of the eight major Nikko school temples. The other seven were Honmon-ji in Kitayama, Honmon-ji in Nishiyama, Kuon-ji in Koizumi, Myoren-ji in Shimojo, Myohon-ji in Hota, Yobo-ji in Kyoto and Jitsujo-ji in Izu.
The chief administrator position of the Nikko school was assumed under a take-turn system. According to The Chronology of Nichiren Shoshu and the Fuji School, the successive chief administrators were:
|2/23/1876||Yobo-ji (Kyoto)||Nichikan Shaku|
|4/6/1876||Yobo-ji (Kyoto)||Nichikan Shaku|
|5/30/1879||Jitsujo-ji (Izu)||Nichikan Oi|
|5/14/1880||Myoren-ji (Fuji)||Nichizen Hori|
|4/27/1882||Honmon-ji (Nishiyama)||Nichigi Ju|
|9/11/1883||Kuon-ji (Koizumi)||Nichiren Fuji|
|4/7/1892||Yobo-ji (Kyoto)||Nichiju Sakamoto|
|4/24/1893||Kuon-ji (Koizumi)||Nichikai Myoko|
|5/1/1894||Honmon-ji (Nishiyama)||Nichigi Ju|
|8/21/1895||Kuon-ji (Koizumi)||Nichirei Fuji|
|6/10/1896||Honmon-ji (Kitayama)||Nichizen Ashina|
|4/8/1897||Myoren-ji (Fuji)||Nichion Inaba|
|4/2/1898||Jitsujo-ji (Izu)||Nichiju Oi|
As is clear from this list, Taiseki-ji was under the supervision of the slanderous chief administrators for many years. With Nippu and Nichio as chief administrators, the school neither moved in a correct direction nor refutes slanderous schools.
The only positive thing we can see in the article published in King of the Law, a Nikko school magazine, is that Nichio, after retiring as Nikko school chief administrator in 1890, rebuked the chief administrator of the Nikko school in a written form about “The Theory of Observing One’s Mind in the Latter Day” written by Nisshu Kio.
Nikken sect priests would likely contend that Nichiin, Nichio and other high priests repeatedly petitioned for Taiseki-ji’s independence but that national authorities would not allow separation from the Nikko school. What they cannot change, however, is the historical fact that Taiseki-ji was part of the Nikko school of the “superior-inferior” school under the slanderous Nichiren Shu.
It was recently discovered that in the Taisho Period, Nissho Abe, then Nichiren Shoshu chief administrator, participated in reciting the sutra together with chief administrators from other Nichiren schools. He also posed proudly for a commemorative photo with them. These facts astonished believers who have heretofore accepted as true the legend of Nichiren Shoshu’s consistent 700-year protection of the Law.
Today, however, some Hokkeko members, including those who belong to the Myokanko group, are shamelessly saying: “What’s wrong with taking a photo (with other schools’ high priests)? . . . Participating in gongyo together with other schools’ priests is not slanderous as long as you are not putting your palms together in respect.”
Also, during World War II, Nichiren Shoshu accepted the Shinto talisman from the military government without protest, defending this deeply slanderous act by saying it was an unavoidable compromise to protect the Dai-Gohonzon from the government’s scheme to unify all Nichiren schools (Nichiren Shoshu Jikyoku Kyogikai Document—Nichiren Shoshu and War Responsibility). The statement simply does not make sense.
Taiseki-ji belongs to the same school as the other Nichiren sects. It was under the supervision of the Nikko school, which oversaw various slanderous temples until 1900.
The Nikko school changed its name to Honmon Shu in 1899. Accordingly, Taiseki-ji became a sect within Honmon Shu. In September the following year, Taiseki-ji alone seceded from Honmon Shu, calling itself “the Fuji school of Nichiren Shu” anew, and finally becoming an independent organization.
Regarding 1900, it was the year Josei Toda, who would become the second Soka Gakkai president, was born. His birth signals the commencement of the true Nichiren Shoshu history. Until Mr. Toda’s appearance, that history was filled with slander from being part of Nichiren Shu. Nowhere did the pure current of the Fuji school flow at Taiseki-ji.
Statistics of Various Nichiren Schools Based on 1904 Survey by Internal Ministry.
|Kempon Hokke Shu||566||338||156,182|
|Honmon Hokke Shu||316||550||169,864|
|Hon Myohokke Shu||87||160||20,262|
|Fujufuse School||2||4||25,514 +|
Nichiren Shoshu Was Significantly Smaller Than Other Nichiren Schools
When Nichio- became high priest in 1889, the Nikko school issued a notice that reads, “Appointing Nichio Oishi as chief priest of Taiseki-ji, head temple at Ueno Village, Fuji County and Suruga Province” (“Komon Daikyoin Rokuji”). In other words, according to this, Taiseki-ji’s high priest had been appointed by the slanderous chief administrator of the Nikko school.
When Taiseki-ji became independent as “Fuji School of Nichiren Shu,” there were only 87 branches, 47 chief priests, and 58,000 lay believers. Let’s compare these figures with those of the other Nichiren schools. The chart on the previous page is based on figures issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. You can instantly see how puny was the Fuji school (which changed its name to Nichiren Shoshu in June 1912).
Nittatsu- even confirmed that Nichiren Shoshu had only four temples (Josen-ji, Myoen-ji, Jozai-ji and Myoho-ji) in Tokyo in the middle of the Meiji Period. Almost no one back then visited Taiseki-ji, a mountain temple in Ueno village. Thanks to the pilgrimage system created by the Soka Gakkai, 70 million people ultimately made their way to Taiseki-ji.
This was unprecedented, compared to the Meiji days. Organizational Publication for Propagation (#24) states, for instance, “We deeply appreciate 60-some people for taking the trouble to visit the head temple” for the 1891 scroll-airing ceremony. The scroll-airing ceremony is one of two major Taiseki-ji events. (The other is the oeshiki, which celebrates Nichiren Daishonin’s eternal enlightenment.) Attendance by 60 people was major news.
It is also recorded in King of the Law (#47) in conjunction with the 1893 scroll-airing ceremony: “People came to the head temple one after another. Those who came a long distance are Mr. Kato, chief priest of Josen-ji in Tokyo; plus one more person, Mr. Fujimoto, chief priest of Myoko-ji in Shinagawa; Mr. Kenji Shimoyama; and three others . . . The ceremony was most vibrant.” Only 30 people attended, but it was recorded as a most wonderful, well-attended ceremony.
We can see, then, how destitute the head temple Taiseki-ji had become before the appearance of the Soka Gakkai. It seems there was a plan to create a “pilgrimage group,” but it did not come to fruition.
Taiseki-ji seems to have conducted gokaihi ceremonies even for slanderous individuals as long as they bestowed monetary offerings. King of the Law (#55) reports that Taiseki-ji even offered the temple grounds for a party of 226 people from the Fuji Volunteer Friendship Association, conducting a gokaihi ceremony for them followed by a reception. Also, Nippo is recorded in Dai-Nichiren (March 1935) as saying “I think that the three treasures must be delighted and contented” after he conducted a gokaihi ceremony for Dr. Anezaki, a scholar of religion, and Chio Yamakawa and Chidai Nagataki, top leaders of Kokuchukai, a slanderous religious organization.
It is also recorded in King of the Law (#55) that Taiseki-ji collected a two-yen admission fee from an American residing in Yokohama for showing him Taiseki-ji’s old furniture and plates.
It is very understandable why Nichiko Hori- later told President Toda, “If it had not been for you, Nichiren Shoshu would have gone bankrupt.” The “you” here could mean the entire Soka Gakkai.
Slander Underlies Nichiren Shoshu’s Past, Present and Future
As if awaiting the birth of Mr. Toda, this foundering, slanderous religious school finally achieved independence in 1900 as Fuji School of Nichiren Shu. But independence did not mean the sudden purification of Taiseki-ji’s muddy flow.
Among the slanderous actions Nichiren Shoshu took in those days, Nichio, the high priest when the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, issued a February 25 admonition to promote and support the war, which described “. . . staging the war of justice.” He also conducted “a prayer meeting for the enhancement of imperial power and the victory of the war to conquer Russia.”
In addition, Nichiren Shoshu turned over believers’ sincere offerings to the government military fund. Not only that, it distributed 10,000 Gohonzon “to ensure victory in the war,” thus committing the serious slander of deviation from the fundamental purpose of propagation of the True Law. The Fuji school of Nichiren Shu was a muddy pond, and the pure current of the Fuji school was a fallacy. So, the Fuji school officially changed its name to Nichiren Shoshu in June 1912, around the time that its slanderous deeds and deviation from Nichiren Daishonin original teachings were in full blossom.
Dai-Nichiren (volume 1, #2), which Nichiren Shoshu had just launched, carried a thesis praising Nembutsu and Shinran. The ad sections of Dai-Nichiren and Byaku Renge promoted items such as a “Statue of Sage Nichiren,” a “Golden Textile Embroidered With Nichiren Shoshu’s Original Gohonzon,” a “Secret Guide for Prayer,” “100 Sermon Points,” and a “Wooden Bell.” They also published ads for the Jodo Shinshu school, Ohtani School Assemble Bureau and Main School Hongan-ji Administrative Office.
Nichiren Shoshu’s extensive slanderous acts and cases of deviation from the correct teaching stemmed from its pursuit of profit. Even taking into consideration that Nichiren Shoshu had to cope with the condition of the Japanese society and the times, there were still too many unacceptable cases of slander. Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda began their practice of Nichiren Buddhism in 1928. Their determination to rebuke the slander of Nichiren Shoshu was the utmost in courage. Upholding Nichiren Daishonin’s correct teaching, they were dedicated to achieving its kosen-rufu.
In the same year, adulterous Nichikai Abe maneuvered to steal the seat of high priest, and his child, Nikken, became an acolyte of Nichiren Shoshu. (In those days, Nikken was called Nobuo Hikosaka, but in 1928, he changed his name to Shinno).
And it was on January 2, 1928, that Daisaku Ikeda, the great leader of global kosen-rufu, was born.
It seems that Nikken senses a mystic bond or correlation among trivial matters. But he discerned no mystic connection among such events as the birth of President Toda and the independence of Nichiren Shoshu as Fuji school of Nichiren Shu and among the birth of Honorary President Ikeda, the inauguration of Nichikai, a monster to destroy the Law, and the official entry of Nikken, Nichikai’s child and the priest of the heavenly devil, into the priesthood of Nichiren Shoshu.
Judging that kosen-rufu couldn’t be accomplished under the leadership of the old Hokkeko group, Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Toda founded the Soka Kyoiku Gakkai in 1930.
Eighty some years have passed since then. The great wave of kosen-rufu has expanded to 192 countries and territories (as of 2010). Today, there are more than 12 million practitioners thanks to the unsparing efforts of the Soka Gakkai, with its three founding presidents as the axle, despite all sorts of oppression from the national authority as well as persecutions and plots to stop its efforts for kosen-rufu. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism today has been greatly restored and enjoys an unprecedented rise in prosperity.
No doubt, Nichiren Daishonin would praise the Soka Gakkai immensely. The Gakkai’s just movement of Buddhism, expanding the circle of support in society, will continue to be accepted by the people of the world.
In contrast, Nichiren Shoshu, seized by an insane high priest, became the Nikken sect. Nichiko’s worry that “without the Soka Gakkai Nichiren Shoshu would perish” is becoming a reality. Nichiren Shoshu’s past was slanderous, its current reality is slanderous, and its future will be slanderous as well. Nichiren Shoshu, which literally translates as “a correct school of Nichiren,” has deserved its name only for the 60 years during which it advanced with the Soka Gakkai.
 Nichiren is talking about the image of Shakyamuni of the “Life Span” chapter as it appears on the Gohonzon flanked by the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth—not the anthropomorphic statue of the historical Shakyamuni who appeared in India.
 In the Lotus Sutra, they are the four leaders of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth described in the “Emerging from the Earth” (fifteenth) chapter: Superior Practices, Boundless Practices, Pure Practices, and Firmly Established Practices. They signify respectively the four virtues of the Buddha’s life: true self, eternity, purity, and happiness. In the Lotus Sutra, Bodhisattvas of Earth vowed to propagate the Law in the Latter Day.
 Nichiren specifically said “I have written out the prose section of the ‘Expedient Means’ chapter for you. You should recite it together with the verse portion of the ‘Life Span’ chapter, which I sent you earlier.” (WND-1, 486)
 The manorial system consisted of the division of land into self-sufficient estates, each presided over by a lord of the manor and tilled by residents of the local village. The lord owed military protection to the peasants. The land remained in the lord’s holding and was loaned to the person who cultivated it in return for services and dues.