Nihon Daruma Sect (日本達磨宗)

Nihon Daruma Sect is a school of the Zen Sect which Nonin DAINICHIBO founded.

Nonin initially studied at Tendai Sect but he attained enlightenment by himself, without a mentor, by reading through Zen books that had been introduced into Japan in the old days and thereafter, he began propagation activities at Sanpo-ji Temple in Settsu Province (Osaka Prefecture). The name of Daruma Sect derives from the legend, which appears in "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) and "Genko shakusho (History of Buddhism of the Genko era), that Prince Shotoku met with the incarnation of Daruma Daishi. Although the name of Nihon Daruma Sect is commonly used at present, this sect was simply called Daruma Sect while Nonin was alive because the current name, which includes the word of 'Nihon' (Japan), was put into use by researchers in early modern times.

Zen with no mentor advocated by Nonin was seen as unorthodox in Zen Sect society whose tradition was the succession of teaching from a mentor to a disciple. In addition, as the court noble society was accustomed to teachings that eyed achieving earthly desires, such as Esoteric Buddhism, there was no background to accept Nonin's Zen teaching which aims to attain enlightenment through ascetic training and his propagation activities constantly faced difficulty.

As for the reputation of Nonin's Zen teaching at the time, it can easily be guessed from the fact that conservative people in waka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem) society criticized FUJIWARA no Teika, who created new style waka around the same time, by saying 'Shingihikyo no darumauta' (heresy of Daruma).

Such ridicules or attacks disappeared after Totsuko SETTAN of Mt. Ikuo bestowed Inka (Certification of spiritual achievement) on Nonin and from then, his reputation started to rise. Nonin, who felt the time was ripe, started propagation activities in Kyoto together with Eisai, but such activities were banned due to an appeal to the Emperor made by priests of Mt. Hiei and soon after, Nonin was killed in an accident.

After Nonin's death, Kakuan HIGASHIYAMA, Nonin's disciple, succeeded in the religious order and continued propagation activities, together with Ejo KOUN (1198 - 1280), at Mt. Tonomine in Yamato Province (Nara Prefecture). However, they were again attacked by believers of Nara Kofuku-ji Temple by means of fire and fled to Echizen Province (Fukui Prefecture) (in 1227).

In Echizen, they used Namitsuki-dera Temple, one of the principal temples of Tendai Sect, the lineage of Mt. Haku, as the base of activities. After Kakuan's death, Ejo in 1234 and Ekan, Giin (1217 - 1300), Gikai (1219 - 1309) and Gien, in 1241, also became disciples of Dogen who stayed at Kosho-ji Temple in Fukakusa (Kyoto Prefecture).

Although it was believed in the past that the activities of Daruma Sect finally ended at that time, it has become known in recent years that one of its schools had survived at Sanpo-ji Temple until the end of the medieval period. It is further believed that Kakun's school was a branch and the school of Sanpo-ji Temple was mainstream.