Nichijin (June 7, 1339-June 23, 1419) was the founder of the Jinmon lineage of the Hokke sect. He was born in Arakawago, Kajisho, Senami County (瀬波郡加治庄荒川郷), Echigo Province in the Hokuriku-do region, on the opposite shore of the east coast of Sado ga shima Island (Sado Province) associated with Nichiren, the founder of the Hokke sect. His father was Takasada SASAKI (佐々木高貞) and his mother was Taegiku (妙菊), the daughter of Kanesue IMADEGAWA, and his secular surname was regarded as the Kurihara clan.
In 1347 he became a priest under Nichiryu (日龍) who was a local governor of the Chokyuzan Honjo-ji Temple (Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture).
Succession of the Honjo-ji Temple
He went to Kyoto and succeeded the dharma lineage which began from Nichiren, the founder of the sect, to Nichiro and Nichiin in 1356. He learned from Nichijo, a chief priest of the Honjo-ji Temple in Sanjo, Echigo Province, and lived at the Honkoku-ji Temple in Rokujo, Kyoto City, and he identified himself as Enkobo Nichijin (円光坊日陣). Nichijo described the Kamakura denchu mondo Dialogue as a record that Nichiin argued all other Buddhism sects down at the palace of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in the period when seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") was Imperial Prince Morikuni who was miyashogun (shogun from the Imperial Court) and the regent was Takatoki HOJO, Tokuso (the patrimonial head of the main branch of the Hojo clan). In 1369 his master gave him the Chokyuzan Honjo-ji Temple in the Echigo Province. Nichiden (日伝) (Rokujomon school) who learned from Nichijo as well as Nichijin, was given the Honkoku-ji Temple in Kyoto.
The founder of lineage
Nichijin gradually opposed Nichiden because he tended to follow the Tendai Sect, Mt.Hiei, and parted his ways with Nichiden in order to emphasize the dharma of Nichiren, the founder of Daimokushu (Nichiren sect). He built the Honzen-ji Temple (located on the Teramachi street, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, at present) as the base in Kyoto instead of the Honkoku-ji Temple, and spread his teachings in Kyoto, the center of Japan in those days. He was engaged in missionary work in various places of Japan, such as the conversion of temples after disputes and constructing Hokke sect's temples. Therefore, he came to be seen as the founder of a new lineage.
In 1419, he passed the Honjo-ji Temple over to his disciple Nichizon and left the temple for Daimokushu missionary work. His fate after that is not known, therefore, this was regarded as the date of his death.
The creed of Nichijin was classified into Shakahonbutsuron (a theory which insists that Shakyamuni is the real Buddha and the Shoretsu school - a school of the Nichiren sect which emphasizes Honmon - the latter part of Hokke-kyo Sutra - the Lotus Sutra). Since he adopted Shakahonbutsuron, he regarded that Honbutsu (the real Buddha) was Shakyamuni of Kuon-jitsujo (eternal life of the Buddha) and that the founder Nichiren was a priest rather than Buddha. Nichijin adopted the Shyoretsu school in the interpretation of Konpon kyoten (primal scripture) Hokke-kyo Sutra, and he especially emphasized chapter 16, Nyoraijuryo-hon (Duration of the Life of the Tathagata, chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra) among Honmon which was regarded as 'Sho' (superior). He insisted that 'the compassion and relief of the real Buddha Shakyamuni in Honmonjuryo-hon in Hokke-kyo Sutra' was the reason why the teaching of Nichiren, the founder of sect, (Daimokushu) was superior than other creeds, which was argued in the important dialogue of Nichiin, the master of his master (Nichijo) between the priest of the Tendai sect at the Palace of Kamakura bakufu (source: 'Kamakura denchu mondo'). This 'compassion and relief of the real Buddha Shakyamuni in Honmonjuryo-hon in Hokke-kyo Sutra' was 'Nam myoho renge kyo,' that is, the Nichiren chant of five or seven letters. Although he regarded Shakumon, the Trace Gate, (the former part of Hokke-kyo Sutra) as 'retsu' (inferior), he emphasized chapter 2, Hoben-bon (Skillfulness, chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra).