Nichiren Shoshu Sect (日蓮正宗)

Nichiren Shoshu Sect is one of the religious schools of Buddhism which had Nichiren as the founder of a religious sect, and was founded by Nikko. Within other schools of the Nichiren sects, it belongs to Fujimon School (Nikkomon School), which embraces Nichiren Honbutsu Ron (the idea that Nichiren himself was an incarnation of the eternal Buddha) and Shoretsu School, and so on, as their doctrine, and is one of the powerful schools in the Fujimon School to which two honzan (head temple) of 'Komon Hachi Honzan' (eight major temples of Nikkomon School (Fujimon School)), Taiseki-ji Temple (Sohonzan (grand head temple)) and Shimojo Myoren-ji Temple (honzan (head temple)), belong.

Summary

After the founder passed away, Nikko, one of the Six Disciples, built and found Honzan Taiseki-ji Temple to be 'Gokaizan' (founding a temple) practically, and influenced the doctrine and absolute direction of the school. Nikko only stayed there for seven years and left the temple after an invitation from the Ishikawa clan when he moved to Omosu-dansho (a Buddhist seminary built in the Omosu Honmon-ji Temple) (current Kitayama Honmon-ji Temple Kongen, also known as Omosu Honmon-ji Temple of Nichiren Sect) in his later years, then he passed the kechimyaku (heritage of the Law) to Nichimoku, taught his disciples up and passed away in this place.

It officially called itself as Nichiren Shoshu Sect in the early the Meiji period, after being one of Shoretsu School of Nichiren Sect (known as Taisekiji School), and at one time, creating Komon School of Nichiren Sect, also known as Nichiren Honmon Sect, the combined school by Hachihonzan (eight major temples) of Fujimon School with other mountains of the Fujimon School. While the position of the chief abbot became in rotation from Hachihonzan in the period as Nichiren Honmon Sect, it broke away from the sect under the official allowance of the branch temples of Taiseki-ji Temple to be independent, and called themselves Fuji School of Nichiren Sect in 1900, then renamed Nichiren Shoshu Sect in 1912 up to the present, however, it was apparent that they called themselves Shoshu Sect, which supposably meant shoshubun (the main part) of Hoke-kyo (Lotus Sutra), until at least the middle of the Edo period, according to the book of Kanazawa local history (it has 'Shoshu no Daimoku' (Chant of Shoshu)).

The Doctrine

On November 24, 1279, it was decided that the principle image (Nichiren Shoshu Sect) attributed to the appearance of the founder of the sect, Nichiren (enshrined at Hoan-do of Taiseki-ji Temple, Sohonzan) as one of kimyo eji (basis to take refuge), and it was Nichiren's long-cherished ambition, and was stated as the ultimate end of the Great Mandala of Mandala of the appearance of the founder of the sect. The basic doctrine is that if a person believes in the correct principal image Honmon Kaidan no Dai-Gohonzon (the Great Object of Veneration of the Sanctuary of the True Teaching)) and practices daimoku (Nichiren chant) with Jigyo Keta (benefiting oneself and benefiting others), anyone can become Buddha in his or her lifetime. Also, while various religious precepts are preached in each Buddhist sect, the precept, namely 'Sandai Hiho no Juji' (remembering and honoring the Three Great Secret Dharmas) are preached in Nichiren Shoshu Sect. Thus it is said that each individual believer practices precept only by 'not to have any Hobo (slander of the Law)' (that is to say, not to pray for the principle images other than that of Nichiren Shoshu Sect) and 'to conduct study of Buddhism and chant Nichiren chants (that is to say, to teach Buddhism widely to the world). That is to say, in Nichiren Shoshu Sect, the principle image is considered as the center of 'Sandai Hiho' (the Three Great Secret Dharmas).

Other than above, the distinctive points in the unique doctrines of the Sect are follows.

The founder of the sect is, in public manner, Jogyo Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Superior Practices) who was predicted in Hoke-kyo Sutra (the Lotus Sutra) to save the end of the world, and in private manner, Kuon Ganjo no Jiju Yushin (Buddha of beginningless time) (that is to say, gohonbutsu (the principle image)). The founder of the Sect was called Nichiren Daishonin. It is only the Fujimon School which uses the respectful title of Daishonin for the title of gohonbutsu of Mappo (Age of the Final Dharma); in the Nichiren Sect (Itchi School, and so on), it means Nichiren Daibosatsu (Great Bodhisattva Nichiren).

The founder of the Sect informally notified to found the sect on May 4, 1253, and declared the foundation on June 2.

It is said Nikko received 'Yuiju Ichinin no Kechimyaku Sojo' (transmission of the heritage of the Law to only one person) from the founder of the Sect in accordance with Nika Sojo (documents which were believed to be addressed from Nichiren to his disciple, Nikko) in 1282. After that, it was passed onto Nichimoku the third, Nichido the fourth, Nichigyo the fifty in order, it is passed to current hoshu (high priest), Nichinyo the sixty eighth.

Those doctrines are examples.

Currently, as the basis of scriptures, Hokke Sanbu-kyo Sutra (The Threefold Lotus Sutra), literary remains of the founder ("Nichiren Daishonin Gosho" (Letters of Nichiren)), those of Nikko the second, Nichiu the ninth and Nichikan the twenty sixth are legitimate scriptures, however, 10 volumes of Makashikan (Mahayana Practice of Cessation and Contemplation) and Guketsu (Commentary on Makashikan) of the Tendai Sect, 10 volumes of Hokke Gengi (Essentials of the Lotus Sutra) and Shakusen (Commentary on Hokke Gengi), and 10 volumes of Hokke mongu (Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra) and Shoki (Commentary on Hoke-kyo Sutra), are also accepted as minor scriptures.

As the basis of Buddhism, Sanbo (3 treasures of Buddhism: Buddha, sutras and priesthood), it is considered the founder of the Sect as the treasure of Buddha of beginningless time, Dai Mandala (Great Mandala) of Nam Myoho Renge-kyo Sutra (Devotion to the Law of Hoke-kyo) as the treasure of sutra, and the successive hoshu, of which Nikko the second, who was 'a person of kechimyaku fuho' (the person receiving the transmission of the heritage of the Law), was at the head, as the treasure of priest (priesthood).

Originally the Sect officially insisted as the policy that, 'in Hoke-kyo it is said a woman cannot become a Buddha due to five obstacles,' but they changed their policy completely that 'it is only Hoke-kyo which taught that women can become a Buddha' after the defeat in 1945, when there was a movement at General Headquarters (GHQ) to eliminate the feudalistic atmosphere (Note that there is Shoman-kyo (Shri-mala Sutra) which taught the theory that women become a Buddha).
However, this change of policy was followed as there was no other choice but for Nichiren Shoshu Sect to do so in order to have a future as a religious school, since there was political pressure from GHQ described as 'GHQ strikes fear in the hearts of the people.'
There is a theory that the abovementioned change happened in the same way as there was talisman held at the temples to accommodate themselves into Yokusan Taisei (Support system of Taisei Yokusan-kai (Imperial Rule Assistance Association)), and it did not come from opportunism and shameless.

* As it is preached in Daibadatta-bon (Chapter on "Devadatta," the 12th chapter of Hoke-kyo) that an eight year old dragon girl did Sokushin Jobutsu (attaining Buddhahood with the present body), thus in Japan, Hoke-kyo has been respected from ancient times as a doctrine in which women become a Buddha, and Hoke-kyo enshrined in kokubun-niji (nunnery temples) built all over Japan by the order of Emperor Shomu.

Also it is said in the literary remains of Nichiren describe as follows;

It said that especially it is not allowed for women to become a Buddha they die in other crest, (Nyonin Jobutsu Sho (Letters of attainment of Buddhahood by women)).

In Hoke-kyo women are allowed to become a Buddha.
(Reply to Goro Taro HOSHINA)

Only in Hoke-kyo that women can become a Buddha, for Hoon-kyo (the Sutra on the Buddha's Repayment of his Indebtedness) which we receive their kindness from mother's love (Reply to Sennichi ama Gozen)

Thus, there is many thoughts of 'Nyonin Jobutsu' (attainment of Buddhahood by women) in Nichiren's thought, the founder of the Sect, this criticism is in fact not true.

History

Nikko achieved brilliant success working actively in shakubuku (a method of propagating Buddhism which was practiced by Nichiren Daishonin) as one of the six old monks of close disciples of the founder of the Sect, and established a powerful organization for religious society especially in Suruga Province. This rapid movement of propagation caused suspicions among the people of other religious sects or the authorities within Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and in 1279 the monks and ordinary people around Atsuhara village were suppressed badly, and finally there was an incident where three believers of farmers became martyrs (Atsuhara Persecution). After the founder of the Sect, Nichiren died, in the Mausoleum, a rotation system was organized by six disciples, however five disciples other than Nikko refused to do this routine due to the unsecured situation in wars or plagues, propagation in distant areas, and so on. Nikkomon School of Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Nichiren Honshu Sect insisted that Nikko, the position of betto (chief officer) of Kuon-ji Temple on Mt. Minobu was forced to leave the temple by the hobo of jito (manager and lord of manor), Rokuro Sanenaga HAKII-bo, after the order of Hyuga, one of the original six old monk disciples.

Nikko founded Taho Fujisan Shimonobo (Shimonobo Temple on Mt. Fuji) in 1289 and is currently know as sacred place where Fujimon School and Nikkomon School originated from. On the following year in 1290, Nikko founded Taiseki-ji Temple at the foot of Mt. Fuji after receiving donations from Tokimitsu NANJO. Since then, the various schools which derived from 'Nichiren Sect of Nikko' and commonly called Fujimon School or Nikkomon School for a long time, have no doctrinally interaction and religious communication with Nichiren Sect, the combination of forty-eight honzan of Shoretsu School and Itchi School (of the Nichiren sect) under the religious policy before the War, however, they have academically interaction with them and sometimes monks from Nichiren Sect visited Taiseki-ji Temple.
Among them, Nichiren Shoshu Sect still insists thatevery other schools, including Nichiro School, and even other Fujimon Schools (later, it took a conciliatory attitude towards Nichiren Sect and did not follow Taiseki-ji Temple) are took as hobo because Nichiren's correct teachings were only passed to dharma lineage linked to Nichido through Nikko and Nichimoku

In the Edo period, Taiseki-ji Temple was allowed to have dokureiseki (privilege to meet shogun face to face) at Edo-jo Castle, and Hiyori the twenty fifth, a grandchild of Emperor Gomizunoo, was adopted as the son of Hiroko KONOE, the lawful wife of the sixth Shogun Ienobu TOKUGAWA, and he was respected by the Imperial family, court nobles, the shogunate families and daimyo family (feudal lord family); however, there was strict control over missionary work by Edo bakufu, the same as for other religious schools, and there was continuous religious persecution in many places such as Kaga clan, Sendai clan, Ii and Owari clan, and Hachinohe clan, and so on. Kanazawa Persecution, which Nichiren Shoshu Sect suffered, was occurred because Myojyo-ji Temple of Mt. Kinei (later became honzan) in Hakui City, Ishikawa Prefecture, one of the Itchi School of Nichiren Sect, of which sohonzan was Kuon-ji Temple on Mt. Minobu, made a false report to Kaga clan, and later on it was found out that Myojyo-ji Temple of the Itchi School of Nichiren Sect feaced criminal charges by making false reports to be punished by being placed under house arrest. Most persecution that Nichiren Shoshu Sect had to take were due to false charges made by the Itchi School of Nichiren Sect of which honzan is Kuon-ji Temple on Mt. Minobu. There is a detailed description about Kanazawa Persecution in 'Search for religious persecution of Kanazawa' written by the historical writer, Toshiko MUKAI.

There was a conflict between the religious society of Taiseki-ji Temple and national power due to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Thus, the Meiji government, which basically tried to nationalize Shintoism as part of religious policy, tried to govern each Buddhist school individually due to tight control and political regulation.
There was a background that the chief abbot of the Nichiren Sect, Nissatsu ARAI, and others aimed to 'unify the whole Nichiren discipline.'
Although Nichiren the fifty fourth of Taiseki-ji Temple put application 'to be independent temple of Taiseki-ji Temple' to Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion) in 1873 and continued to seek approval, it was not accepted, and in 1876, Hachihonzan (eight head temples) of Taiseki-ji Temple, Shimojo Myoren-ji Temple, Kitayama Honmon-ji Temple, Kyoro Yobo-ji Temple, Koizumi Kuon-ji Temple, Hota Myohon-ji Temple, Nishiyama Honmon-ji Temple and Izu Jitsujo-ji Temple, which were belonged to the Fujimon School, were categorized as Konon Schools of Nichiren Sect (later renamed Nichiren Honmon Sect). There was no choice but for the Hachihonzan to have 'an official position in Komon School (chief abbot of Honmon School)' in rotation as representative of a religious school for political purposes, and Nippu the fifty fifth Hoshu became the fourth chief abbot from 1881 to 1882, and Nichio the fifty sixth Hoshu became the fifth chief abbot from 1891 to 1892.

The rank of the chief priest of Taiseki-ji Temple remained the same as Hoshu, while the position of the chief abbot was sometimes assumed by those from Hobo which was an unusual and humiliating situation for monks and other people of Taisekiji School, and the religious group itself was in an insecure situation. However, after that, Nippu the fifty fifth and Nichio the fifty sixty continued to protest several times against the situation and for other seven honzan temples to stop the activity to the government, and finally they got approval for the group to be independent Honmon Sect and it was officially called Fuji School of the Nichiren Sect in 1900. Then it was renamed 'Nichiren Shoshu Sect' by the decision of Nissho the fifty seventh on June 7, 1912, which is the current official name.

In 1930, Soka Kyoiku Gakkai (literally, Value-Creation Education Society) was established as an educational group by Tsunesaburo MAKIGUCHI and Josei TODA who declared their policy of a combined doctrine of Nichiren Shoshu Sect and a belief in Makiguchi's 'theory of value,' and Makiguchi assumed the position as the first president; however, Nichiren Shoshu Sect did not accept Soka Kyoiku Gakkai as a group of believers (Makiguchi described in the record, 'Soka Kyoiku Gakkai is not just pure Nichiren Shoshu Sect, but it is an independent group that proceeds my own theory of value.'
After the Pacific War ended, Toda assumed the position as the second president and he changed the name from Soka Kyoiku Gakkai to Soka Gakkai (literally, Value-Creation Society), and after that, Nichiren Shoshu Sect itself became very popular. Especially after Taisaku IKEDA became the third president, (current chairperson emeritus) in 1960, it was the best time for Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Soka Gakkai, since kyakuden (guest hall) (Taiseki-ji Temple) and Shohon-do (Taiseki-ji Temple) were built with the donations from former Hokke Ko (the former Buddhist parishioner) and believers of Soka Gakkai. However, the Soka Gakkai side gradually continued to insist on the change of doctrine, and after going through various issues in 1977, Nichiren Shoshu Sect excommunicated Soka Gakkai on November 28, 1991, in the name of the sixty seventh Hoshu at that time, Nikken.

However, in the records of Shumuin Propagation Hall, there is no record of the approval for Soka Gakkai to establish its organization, and the relationship between Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Soka Gakkai is the same as that between Itchi School of Nichiren Sect and Rissho Koseikai (Buddhist organization founded by Nikkyo NIWANO and Myoko NAGANUMA), and some people said that Soka Gakkai was not an official believers group after all. Usually, in the believers' group (Kochu) of Nichiren Shoshu Sect, the chief priest of the branch temples (instructor) and the representative of the believers need to apply for 'approval of establishing an organization' to Shumuin, and after the application is processed in Shumuin, Hoshu, the chief abbot of Nichiren Shoshu Sect signs and puts his seal onto it; however Soka Gakkai has neither a record of receiving approval for establishing the organization nor instructor from the beginning, and they were treated as outsiders within Nichiren Shoshu Sect.

Nichiren Sect separated into many religious schools after the beginning of the religion, and one of them is called Kuon-ji Temple on Mt. Minobu, sozan (the mountain of the foundation) Nichiren Sect, where there are many believers from samurai families, and they strengthened their power under the bakufu government and came to control the whole Nichiren Sect.

On the other hand, Taiseki-ji Temple of the Nikko School, who are the successors of the same kechimyaku (heritage of the Law) of Yuiju Ichinin (succeed everything that the master knows about the art to only one excellent disciple), has installed the So-mon gate (main gate) in Palace-style, made of dark wood (Kuro-mon gate), and a red lacquered Sanmon gate and Niten-mon gate with kikumon (chrysanthemum crest) and Chokushi-mon gate (the gate for the Imperial Envoys) and they showed the power of their religious school to the court nobles with architecture.

However, the above buildings were not allowed to be built without imperial sanction before the war, so these buildings were the one to prove that there was imperial sanction for Taiseki-ji Temple.

It is said that the above mentioned poems were made to criticize two deferent schools of Nichiren Sect, but there are some questions raised in terms of the practical part.

The beginning of the poem is a collection of poetry from the Keicho era, 'Biyokunkashu' (a collection of Muromachi kouta (popular songs in the Muromachi period)).
There is a poem made by an unknown poet which said, 'Mt. Minobu for samurai families, Mt. Fuji for court nobles, Ishiyama for emperors' favorite.'

Rank and Authority of the Hoshu

The hoshu who succeeded the blood line of Yuiju Ichinin is the highest ranked monk of the Nichiren Shoshu Sect, and the rank of the monk was daisojo (a Buddhist priest of the highest order). In recent religious regulations, only hoshu can definitely become the chief abbot, the manager of Shumu (General Affairs of a sect) politics, after going through a candidate selection meeting for the chief abbot. Hoshu also work as chief abbot of a Buddhist temple (chief priest) of Sohonzan Taiseki-ji Temple. The current hoshu is the sixty eighth, Nichinyo HAYASE.

If the next candidate for the successor of hoshu was officially announced, he will be appointed as Gakuto (head student). The official rank of Gakuto as monk is Gon no Daisojo (the second-ranking of Buddhist monk). However if the successor is not officially announced, the position of Gakuto is kept vacant. There are some noge (master) who are a group of high priests one rank next to hoshu, and currently there are ten monks who are in the position of noge excluding former Hoshu Nikken.

Hoshu are called by using their respect title such as 'go hoshu Nichi X jonin geika' and 'Nichi X jonin.'
The former hoshu who leave the temple and retire are called with the respective title of 'goinson geika' or 'goinson jonin.'

The respective title of Jonin (Saint) can be donated or given to as conferring court rank posthumously to noge or former hoshu, after getting the approval of hoshu. Also Buddhist name with the character of nichi (日) is called Nichigo, which is given to monks while they are alive. However, only a high priest with rank higher than noge (a lower priest in the highest position) can officially name Nichigo while they are alive. However, some monks who are not in a high position or lay believers of the religious group can have Nichigo after they die, while they are given posthumous Buddhist names by the approval of hoshu as well. Only hoshu has the right' to give Jonin go (name) or Nichigo, the same condition as to give rights of honzon shosha ken (rights to make a written copy of the principle images) and kyogi saitei-ken (right to judge doctrines). These 'centralization' of important powers shows the prohibition of 'independent honzan' beyond the control of sohonzan, in contrast to the Minobu schools of Nichiren Sect, where the local chief priest himself makes a written copy of the principle image of Monji Mandala (mandala depicted Buddha in Chinese characters, scriptures, and so on) and gives away copies to his close believers.

General Political Matters

As the position of kancho (the chief abbot) is set as the head to supervise the office work of Shumuin. The kancho also works as Hoshu and the chief priest of Taiseki-ji Temple. Shumuin locate in the precincts of Sohonzan Taiseki-ji Temple. There is a modern official system established and general political matters are divided into five divisions under the supervision of the General Office Director who supports kancho, such as Shomubu (General Affairs Department), Kyogakubu (Educational Department), Kaigaibu (Overseas Department), Shogaibu (Public Relations Department) and Zaimubu (Finance Department). Furthermore, there is juyaku, a position of executive which follows the position of kancho and sokan (general office director), who works as advisor. In each department, there is bucho (general manager), fuku-bucho (assistant general manager) (currently there is no one in this position in Kaigaibu and Zaimubu and shunin (manager), and especially, the bucho of Shomubu is practically in the position of supporting sokan. Apart from above, there are Shukai, which is a committee elected by an election among monks, Kanseikai (監正会) which is enforcement of the law of the land, and representative system introduced which has a group of five people participating in government who are appointed by kancho and are higher rank than gondaisozu (Junior prelate).

Shomuin regulated propagation districts all over Japan called Dai Fukyo-ku (大布教区, large propagation district), and other districts which are controlled by Dai Fukyo-ku. There is Tokubetsu Fukyo-ku (特別布教区, special propagation district) within tatchu (a sub-temple on the premise of a large temple) of sohonzan. The office matters in Tokubetsu Fukyo-ku are dealt within Naikotobu (Department of Operation of the Temple) of Taiseki-ji Temple. In Naikotobu there is one shunin riji (chief director), one or two shitsuji (stewards), and some riji (administrators) are appointed within the chief priests of tatchu temples under the supervision of Hoshu, and they become representatives of operations of the temple of sohonzan. Legally, hoshu acts as the representative committee of Taiseki-ji Temple, and the shunin riji, riji, and sodai (the representative) act as responsible committee members.

Shunin riji and shitsuji are to support hoshu's judicial affairs as the chief priest of Taiseki-ji Temple, and when hoshu is away, they act as doshi (officiating monks) to conduct Buddhist memorial services.

The System to Enter into Priesthood

The chief priest, shukan (supervisor), assistant of the chief priest, fuku-shukan (assistant of shukan) are created by a quite centralized system; they are sent by sohonzan with an order from kacho, and it is not a hereditary or family-run system which can often be seen in traditional Buddhism after the Meiji restoration. Therefore sometimes there is a change in the chief priest in a short period of time or exchange of a chief priest between two temples. The assistant chief priest and fuku-shukan are appointed by the chief priest and kancho with instructors in accordance with the regulation of the Sect, and after that they are assumed their new positions after receiving approval from hoshu. Thus the head priest can not use the property of the temple as his own property (inheritance, and so on).

In old days, monks used to have disciples within the sect to become new monks, but currently people can apply to become a monk by passing the inspection to enter the Buddhist priesthood and become a disciple of Saint hoshu. Most of the monks are twelve years old when entering the Buddhist priesthood, and as soon as they finish primary school they become the priests. Other candidates for monks from ordinary people are invited at any time. After entering into the priesthood and finishing training until the last year of the high school at Taiseki-ji Temple of sohonzan, they work for temples in the countries (mostly for temples with the same rank as honzan and for those around large cities) for about four years, followed by working for sohonzan for one year, and he or she will be appointed as assistant instructor (allowed to teach Buddhist law), and will be sent to temples in the countries as chief priests (or assistant chief priests) if there is an order from kancho. Some monks spend all their lives in sohonzan after entering into priesthood. All the priest's robes have shiro-gojo kesa (kesa (Buddhist stole) divided into five parts longitudinally colored white) and clothes with a thin black (there are differences in the pattern of the clothes, depending on the rank of the monks), and monks are not allowed to wear these costumes without having a license to wear them from kancho.

In the generation who entered into the priesthood around 1965, which was called the honeymoon period of Soshu (Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu Sect), many new temples were built rapidly thanks to huge donations from Soka Gakkai, some people were appointed that more monks and lower quality, just like 'quantity products of low quality,' because there were more ascetic monks who came from among lay believers than other traditional Buddhist schools, and currently they have a good reputation of their strict grounding on education of monks.

The Rank of the Monk

In Nichiren Shoshu Sect, the rank of the monk (rank of priest) is listed as follows.

Kyoshi (Instructor)

Daisojo (a Buddhist priest of the highest order) (hoshu or a person who was previously hoshu)

Gondaisojo (generally second grade Buddhist priest) (Gakuto)

Sojo (high Buddhist priest)

Gonsojo (the lowest grade that can be held by one who has reached the highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests)

(the ranks above are Noge)

Daisozu (the highest grade that can be held by one who has reached the second highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests)

Gondaisozu

Sozu

Gonsozu

Dai koshi (The highest lecturer)

Koshi (The lecturer)

Sho koshi (The junior lecturer)

Kundo (teacher)

Gonkundo

Hikyoshi (非教師, non-instructor)

Itto Gakushu (students of the first rank)

Nito Gakushu (students of the second rank)

Santo Gakushu (students of the third rank)

Shami (monk in the junior rank)

Each rank given to different people depends on the regulation of the group.

Monks in Charge of Administration of the Sect

Kancho: Nichinyo (the chief priest of Taiseki-ji Temple of Sohonzan), daisojo

Zenkancho (the former kancho): Nikken (the former chief priest of Taiseki-ji Temple of sohonzan), daisojo

Sokan: Shinei YAGI (shukan of Hodoin Temple in Tokyo, chief kyoshi of the headquarters of Hokke Ko, the former chief riji of Taiseki-ji Temple), gonsojo

Juyaku: Nichijun FUJIMOTO (the chief priest of Josen-ji Temple in Tokyo, the former sokan), sojo

Shukai gicho (chairman of Shukai): Keido HOSOI (the chief priest of Jozai-ji Temple in Tokyo)

Bucho of Kyogakubu: Kosho MIZUSHIMA (水島公正, the chief priest of Noan-ji Temple in Tokorozawa, chief kyoshi of the head quarter of Hokke Ko)

Bucho of Shomubu: Shinsho ABE (阿部信彰, the chief priest of Myokoku-ji Temple in Tokyo, chief kyoshi of the head quarter of Hokke Ko)

Bucho of Kaigaibu: Yukio URUSHIBATA (漆畑行雄, the chief priest of Myoren-ji Temple of honzan in Fujinomiya)

Bucho of Zaimubu: Noriaki NAGAKURA (長倉教明, the chief priest of Nissho-ji Temple in Sapporo)

Bucho of Shogaibu: Kogaku AKIMOTO (the chief priest of Sentoku-ji Temple in Setagaya-ku Ward, Tokyo)

Fuku-bucho of Kyogakubu: Shindo MIYANO (宮野審道, the chief priest of Keishin-ji Temple in Saitama, the executive of Dainichiren publishing Co., Ltd)

Fuku-bucho of Shomubu: Eijun SAITO (斎藤栄順)

Fuku-bucho of Shogaibu: Seigaku UMEYA (梅屋誠岳)

The Religious Group of Nichiren Shoshu Sect

Hokke Ko

Hokke Ko is the only religious group of Nichiren Shoshu Sect. Each branch temple has XX Ko (kochu (religious groups)) of danka (supporter of a Buddhist temple), which collectively called themselves Hokke Ko. Hokke Ko have existed since ancient times in religious history, known as the group that conducts daily Shodaigyo (the practice of chanting the daimoku (Nichiren chant)) or group climbing sohonzan, and Nichiren Shoshu Hokke Ko Zenkoku Rengokai (Japan Association of Hokke Ko of Nichiren Shoshu Sect, also known as Zenren for short), was established as a federation of XX Ko in 1962, and Hokke Ko joined the association. This Zenren was renamed Nichiren Shoshu Sect Hokke Ko Rengokai (Association of Hokke Ko of Nichiren Shoshu Sect, also known as Rengokai for short) in 1967 and up to the present date.

To establish religious groups of Nichiren Shoshu Sect, the chief priest of the branch temples needs to be the chief kyoshi of the religious group to submit the application 'Soshiki Kessei Kyoka Negai' (the application for approval to establish an organization), in the joint signature with the representative of the people who wish to establish the group, to Shumuin, and after the application is processed, 'Soshiki Kessei Kyoka sho' (Approval to establish the organization) will be signed and imprinted with his seal by Hoshu, kancho of Nichiren Shoshu Sect, and approval will be given to XX Ko via the chief kyoshi. This system has been maintained since the Meiji period, as it said in Nikko the second, 'these Homon (teachings of Buddhism) are to teach the right way from the teacher to the disciples' (Sadonokuni Hokke Ko Shu Gohenji (Reply to those of Hokke Ko in Sado Province)), and the traditions and customs were followed and some old documents still remain related to 'Soshiki Kessei Kyokasho' in the Edo period. The organization, XX Ko, established under above procedure, submits the application to become a member of Nichiren Shoshu Hokke Ko Zenkoku Rengokai, and then the paperwork will being processed in the office of Nichiren Shoshu Hokke Ko Zenkoku Rengokai within sohonzan (known as Hokke Ko office). Thus, groups which do not hold 'Soshiki Kessei Kyoka Negai' and do not have any chief kyoshi is not officially considered as a religious group of Nichiren Shoshu Sect.

In Hokke Ko, Daibyakuho paper published by Nichiren Shoshu Hokke Ko Rengokai is the only organ paper. It is issued on the 1st and 16th of each month and is one hundred yen.

The Committee of the Hokke Ko

As the board member of Hokke Ko of each branch temple, there are koto (the head of the Ko), fuku-koto (vice head of the Ko), kanji (organizer), and kaikei (account) of representatives of kochu and they are all defined as 'Kumi-sewayaku' (careers of the religious group) not to teach members of Ko belonged to other temples since it is regarded as an ultravires act against chief kyoshi (the chief priest and shukan (supervisor)).
In Nichiren Shoshu Hokke Ko Rengokai, for the convenience of the official system, there are official positions such as iincho (chairman), fuku-iincho (vice chairman), riji, and chiho-bucho (manager in the local area), which are defined as 'Kumi-sewayaku' and not allowed to teach or supervise Hokke Ko who are members of 'Rengokai.'
There are honorable positions such as Sokoto (head of all Nichiren lay believers) and Daikoto (senior representative of Nichiren Shoshu Sect lay society) but they are not positions to teach believers of the group.
When they make public speeches in front of groups of believers, the speeches will be defined under the name of 'greetings' or 'encouragement.'

Hokke Ko in Overseas

Hokke Ko exist in about fifty countries overseas, and there are some temples or propagation offices which were built. Especially in Indonesia it is said that about sixty million believers exist (the number was officially announced by the Indonesian government), and in Taiwan five temples were built and the number of believers is tending to increase.

The In-house Magazine (Teaching Magazine) of Nichiren Shoshu Sect

Dainichiren

The only in-house magazine (Teaching Magazine) of Nichiren Shoshu Sect is called Dainichiren. There are extra editions issued depending on the different situation. It carrys information such as Shomuin rokuji (report of Shomuin), Sohonzan rokuji (report of sohonzan), Publication of Shomu, Hoshu's preaching, propagation lectures and essays, the activities of sohonzan and branch temples, overseas movement, greetings from the chief priest who newly assumed, and it costs three hundred yen. In Shomuin rokuji, it has information such as a notice of a Buddhist memorial service at sohonzan, an official written notification of chief priest, approval of establishing organization of Kochu, approval of a committee of Hokke Ko for a supporters group, approval of representatives of supporters group of branch temples. There are personnel information of sohonzan in sohonzan rokuji. In the activities of sohonzan, it has information on Buddhist memorial service held at sohonzan, and in the activities of branch temples, it has information on Buddhist memorial services held at branch temples. It was first published in 1916. Also there are temple newsletters published in branch temples, and the only Dainichiren and newsletters of branch temples are considered as the official organ.

The Activities of the Nichiren Shoshu Sect Believers

The basic activity of the disciple is to chant 'Namu Myohorenge-kyo' to the principle image and to read and learn Hoke-kyo (Nichiren chants for self awareness), as well as practicing Shakubuku (to correct another's false views and awaken that person to the truth of Buddhism) to teach these learnings to other people (chant of Keta (for other people)). The basic routine of religious service for self awareness (Nichiren Shoshu Sect) is to read and learn Hoben-bon of Myoho Renge-kyo Sutra (Skillfulness, chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra), Nyoraijuryo-hon (Duration of the Life of the Tathagata, chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra) (in chogo (prose) style, also known as Jigage), intone the Nichiren chant (to chant 'Namu Myohorenge-kyo') and they are proceeded with the ancient custom of 5 morning services and 3 evening services. Tozan sankei' to branch temples and sohonzan (to visit sohonzan Taiseki-ji Temple) is considered as one of the training and to accumulate kudoku (merit) to become a Buddha.

To register in the list of supporters of Nichiren Shoshu Sect, one needs to have jukai (handing down the precepts) at branch temples, furthermore, you need to be issued with the principal image of Great Mandala. The people who just received jukai but without issue of the principle image, are called naitoku (内得) believers and are not counted in the numbers of official believers. In any case, all believers of Nichiren Shoshu Sect receive jukai while they are alive.
But in Myokanko group, 'believers who just received jukai can be counted as official numbers of the believers.'

The Criticism Towards Education and Learning of Nichiren Shoshu Sect

Traditionally, other schools of Nichiren Sect criticize the Sect such as, the theory of 'imitation of the principle image (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)', one of 'Nika Sojo are forged documents,' and one of 'Sandaihiho-sho (Commentary of the Three Great Secret Dharmas) are a forged document theory.'
However, as it is said the Honmon Kaidan no Daigohonzon (the principle image of Nichiren Shoshu Sect) are dwelled the soul of Nichiren Daishonin, the scientific judgment of radiation was never being used, and the originals of the Nika Sojo or Sandaihiho-sho do not exist nowadays, there is no answer to the dispute which has been around for over seven hundred years.

Honmon Kaidan no Daigohonzon has evidences of tools in the Kamakura period, however, it was possibly made in later years since the Nichiren Sect while Nichiren was alive wasn't able to afford the cost, the flower stamp was different from Nichiren's, and it was very similar to Zenshi juyo mandala (Mandala given by Zenshi), and so on. As for Sandaihiho-sho, a research group including Zuiei ITO, a monk of Nichiren Sect, are almost certain that it is Shinseki (original handwriting) after having computer analysis. Nika Sojo is also said to be true within Nichiren Sect, especially among monks who are in the Fujimon School line.

On the other hand, there was the insistence to appoint the political power as gathered into the center, or to believe it would definitely come back to Hoshu himself after the conflict between Shoshinkai (correct faith association) or Soka Gakkai. However on the Nichiren Shoshu Sect side, they insisted that the above insistence cannot be realistic. The reason being that hoshu can secure to make decisions objectively when the relationship of Hoshu and other monks are shown in documents like Nikko Yuikai Okibumi (Nikko's last admonitions). There is a background for criticism of the above, on the contrary to many traditional religious schools in Japanese Buddhism who tried to democratize the nature of the religious group by going through trial and error in the movement of 'modernization from the base' after the 1970's, however, Nichiren Shoshu Sect has a tendency to traditionally focus political power on one person, kancho, and maintains the centralization of power.

There are more arguments for and against than before towards the original theory of Butsubachi (Buddha's punishment) and the theory of death. In another words, the sales talk such as if someone does not join into the group, when he or she dies, the body will turn to an all black color and become heavy, or the scientific and historical criticisms in relation to their own religious group are not acceptable, however when attacking other religious groups baldy, this group is criticized in that they draw a strict line between others and have an exclusive attitude towards them.

The Current Dispute Between Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Other Religious Groups

In the past other religions were considered as hobo and bad religions, and they tried to teach right things against these religions. In that sense the Nichiren Shoshu Sect is against other religions. But the founder of the Sect stated that to teach right things against other religions had to be done with common sense and good manners, and it is only limited to educational differences in the religions. Therefore, there is only Sokka Gakkai that has what is currently called 'dispute' (conflict apart from doctrine) against Nichiren Shoshu Sect.

Since Sokka Gakkai was excommunicated in 1990 (the official year of excommunication was in the following year, 1991), they spent much time and energy attacking Nichiren Shoshu Sect, and their point of view is that it is important to 'attack the opposition to Buddha,' and they repeatedly wrote slander and gossip or invasion of human rights in their in-house magazines such as the Seikyo newspaper, and there is repeated severe slander towards the high priest including former Hoshu, Nikken. Also they filed many suits against Nichiren Shoshu Sect although they knew they would lose the cases; the purpose of doing this was to impart human and financial damage to Nichiren Shoshu Sect. Another thing was that Soka Gakkai believers caused criminal incidents, and they were arrested twice at Hosho-ji Temple in Yokosuka City when they were caught in the act of starting or causing fires. However, this kind of violent attack has relatively calmed down recently, but they sometimes send spies, or they are scared of spies and watch people coming in and out of temples of Shoshu Sect.

The Public Estimation of Nichiren Soshu From Overseas Government

In Taiwan, Nikken, kancho, was introduced as 'hanaosho priest' (sensual monk) in various media such as newspapers and television by a press, mainly organized by gaishojin (immigrant from China Continent to Taiwan after 1945). But this press is known for publishing critical articles with a sharp tongue about Soka Gakkai.

In Malaysia only monks of this religious school in the Buddhist group are allowed to be stationed in the country.

In France, there was a report on the official name of 'Nichiren Shoshu Sect' (Soka Gakkai) as a sect submitted to the National Assembly in the 1980's, however it was revised to Soka Gakkai International in new report in 1996, the decision was made after the consideration of separating Nichiren Shoshu Sect and Soka Gakkai, but there is a group exist in one part of private group insisting Nichiren Shoshu Sect as sect, same as Soka Gakkai.

It was reported in an official organ of Soka Gakkai, 'Soka Shinpo' that in Argentina, Mother Teresa was told that Nichiren Shoshu Sect was the only appropriate religion and others are not, and this was considered as criticizing other religions, or after they conducted an opening ceremony for a propagation office without gaining approval from the government, and the group lost the license to be a corporate body and the monks were forced to leave the country; currently, the propagation office held the opening ceremony and the activities of the temples are continuing. With the background indicated above, there was a misunderstanding due to the actions of the Argentinean Soka Gakkai, and their religious activity was suspended for one year due to the order from the prime minister, however they managed to 'avoid losing the license to be a corporate body and suspension of religious activity' since the interim order was accepted by a local court.

In Europe, Nichiren Shoshu Sect is only known as a parental association of Soka Gakkai. In Europe, Soka Gakkai is generally considered as the same as Nichiren Buddhism. Since Soka Gakkai was being considered as part of a religious cult, it was exaggerated that the organization was not part of the religious cult. There is criticism when all other religious schools are said to be not the right religion.

Major Temples

Sohonzan (Grand Head Temple)

Taho Fuji Dainichiren Gezan Taiseki-ji Temple (Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture)

Honzan (Head Temple)

Taho Fijisan Shimojo Myoren-ji Temple (Shimojo Myoren-ji Temple on Mt. Fuji) (Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture)

Honmon-ji Temple (Mitoyo City, Kagawa Prefecture)

Jozen-ji Temple on Mt. Hichiya (Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture)

Historical Temples

Taho Fujisan Shimonobo Temple (Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture) and others

Festivals

Annual event, customary event (please refer to the chapter of Taiseki-ji Temple for the details of events for Grand Head Temple)

January 1: Religious service on New Year's day

January 1 to 3: Religious service event on New Year

Coming-of-age celebration in January: Ceremony of coming-of-age celebration (this event is not held in the years when there are no believer who become adults in each temple)

February 3: Setsubun (the traditional end of winter)

February 7: Koshikai (the anniversaries of originator, Nikko's death anniversary)

February 16: Birthday of the founder of the Sect

The Vernal Equinox Day in March: Buddhist memorial service in equinox times in spring time

April 28: Risshu-e (anniversary of the foundation of the Sect by Nichiren)

Buddhist memorial service to get rid of insects (this is only for certain historic old temples where there are treasures, and it is held on April 6 and 7 every year in Taiseki-ji Temple)

August 15: Urabon-e festival (a Festival of the Dead or Buddhist All Soul's Day)

September 12: Tatsunokuchi Honan-e (the gathering of Tatsunokuchi religious persecution)

September 18 and 19: Kanshi-e (the anniversary of Nikkan Jonin, the twenty sixth's death)

Autumnal Equinox Day in September: Buddhist memorial service in equinox times in fall

From October to the first half of November: Shuso Nichiren Daishonin Gotai-e (Celebration of Nichiren Daishonin's passing) (it is held from November 20 to November 21 in Taiseki-ji Temple).

November 15: Mokushi-e (the anniversary of the third originator of the religious group, Nichimoku's death.
It is also celebrated as Shichigosan (The Seven-Five-Three Festival))

November 20 and 21: Shuso Nichiren Daishonin Gotai-e (the dates vary depending on different branch temples)

The first day of each month: Okyobi (a service for passed away believers or ancestors)

The first Sunday of the each month: Kofu Shodai-e (chanting ceremony which starts at nine o'clock in the morning for one hour in Taiseki-ji Temple and all other branch temples)

The second Sunday of each month: Nichiren Daihonin Gohon Oko (Buddhist ceremony held only on 13th at Daibo in Taiseki-ji Temple, and held on every second Sunday and 13th of each month at some temples, the anniversary of Nichiren's death)

Okekai (monks visit Buddhist parishioner during Higan (vernal and autumnal equinox festivals) in spring and autumn and Obon festival (a Festival of the Dead or Buddhist All Soul's Day).

Ceremonial occasions (ceremonial occasions of Nichiren Shoshu Sect are conducted by following Kegi (the way Buddha guides people), the style varies in different places due to the difference of the custom in the area).

Marriage ceremony (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)

Funerals (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)

Kikoshiki (groundbreaking or cornerstone-laying ceremony) (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)

Jotoshiki (the roof-laying ceremony) (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)

Hatsumairi (visiting temples or shrines for the first time in New Year) (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)

Shichigosan (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)

The coming-of-age ceremony (Nichiren Shoshu Sect)