On this occasion of the Overseas Believers Summer Study Tozan, I
would like to express my respect to all of you who made the pilgrimage to the
Head Temple from countries around the world.
I am Rev. Shudo Sugano, and I will be presenting you with today’s
Today, I would like to talk about Nichiren Shoshu Head Temple
Taisekiji, where you have come on a tozan pilgrimage.
Taisekiji was established in the autumn of 1290 by Second High
Priest Nikko Shonin, and carries a deep and sacred history spanning 722 years.
Nikko Shonin felt dismayed to leave Mt. Minobu, where our founder
Nichiren Daishonin spent the final nine years of his life. However, in order to
protect the Daishonin’s true Law and correctly propagate the teachings into the
future, he left Mt. Minobu, feeling as if his heart would break, and
established Taisekiji here, at the foot of Mt. Fuji.
If we consider the background of Taisekiji's establishment at its
current site after Nikko Shonin’s departure from Mt. Minobu, we clearly can see
that, from the viewpoint of Nichiren Shoshu history, it was inevitable.
Therefore, I would like to discuss the background of Nikko
Shonin’s departure from Mt. Minobu, the reasons why the site where Taisekiji is
established is the finest location, and the significance of Taisekiji’s
The Demise of the
Daishonin, and Nikko Shonin’s Arrival at Mt. Minobu
Nichiren Daishonin passed away on October 13th of the fifth year
of Ko'an (1282) at Ikegami, in the Bushu region.
Before his passing, from among his many disciples, the Daishonin
selected Nikko Shonin as the Great Master of Propagation in the Latter Day of
the Law. He also bestowed upon Nikko Shonin all authority with regard to his
Buddhism and with regard to the Gohonzon.
The existence of the two transfer documents, and the fact that
Nikko Shonin became the head priest of Kuonji Temple on Mt. Minobu, undoubtedly
prove that Nikko Shonin is the legitimate successor to Nichiren Daishonin.
After the funeral ceremonies for
Nichiren Daishonin, Nikko Shonin, carrying the Daishonin's ashes, immediately
went to Mt. Minobu. As the second head priest of Kuonji Temple and as the Great
Master of Propagation of the Essential Teaching, Nikko Shonin assumed the
position of leader of all the Daishonin's followers, in accordance with the
Therefore, Nikko Shonin followed the Daishonin’s will, stated in
the Gosho, “Hagiri dono goho”:
Wherever I may meet my demise, I would like to be buried in the
valley of Minobu.
(Gosho, p. 1596)
Minobu, Nikko Shonin established a grave where the Daishonin’s ashes were
A feeling of desolation filled Mt. Minobu for a time
after the Daishonin’s passing, but the arrival of Nikko Shonin revitalized the
land with the energy of sutra recitations, chanting Daimoku, lectures, and
study permeating the area around the mountain.
In January of the sixth year of Ko'an (1283),
Nichiren Daishonin’s 100th Day Memorial Ceremony was solemnly conducted by
Nikko Shonin, with disciple priests and believers, from places both near and
far, all in attendance.
On the occasion of this ceremony, Nikko Shonin considered the
unity of the priesthood to be of utmost importance for the perpetuation of the
true Law and kosen-rufu. He discussed with the other senior priests the idea of
establishing a rotation system to protect and serve the Daishonin’s grave. The
rotation system for the gravesite was approved, and recorded in a document
entitled, “Document of Acceptance of Specified Duty to Protect the Grave.”
The purpose of establishing the rotation system for the gravesite
was for the perpetuation of the true Law and kosen-rufu. More specifically, its
purpose was first, for the Daishonin’s disciples who were propagating the
teachings in various regions to visit the Daishonin’s grave, in order to repay
their debt of gratitude to the Daishonin and cultivate their practice. Second,
its purpose was for them to learn the Buddhism of the sowing hidden in the
depths of the Lotus Sutra under Nikko Shonin, who received the Lifeblood
Heritage of the Law, and also for them always to receive correct guidance from
This is extremely important. The true significance of the
Daishonin’s Buddhism was received by Nikko Shonin, who possessed the Lifeblood
Heritage of the Law entrusted to a single person.
Sadly, however, the other senior priests could not understand
this point. They denied Nikko Shonin’s guidance, and conducted hostile acts
against their Master.
The third purpose for establishing the rotation system was for
Nikko Shonin to be able to grasp the current situation of the Daishonin’s
followers through receiving reports of the circumstances of propagation.
The rotation system for
the gravesite was established in order to repay the debt of gratitude owed to
the Daishonin through protecting his grave and offering incense and greens. But
actually, as you can see, it carried an even deeper meaning.
The “Document of Acceptance of Specified Duty to Protect the
Grave,” which was approved by the senior priests, was no longer upheld after
the Daishonin’s 100th Day Memorial Ceremony.
In October of the seventh year of Ko'an (1284), the third
Anniversary Ceremony of the Daishonin’s Passing was conducted by Nikko Shonin,
but not even one of the five senior priests made a pilgrimage to attend. Nikko
Before everything else, it is absolutely deplorable that the
gravesite in the valley of Minobu has become totally dilapidated from neglect
and is defaced by the hoof prints of deer.
（”Letter to Minasaka-bo,” Rekizen, vol.1, p. 113）
He was deeply saddened that the five senior priests
failed to protect the gravesite and left it in such a deplorable condition that
it was surrounded by the hoof prints of deer.
In fact, the Daishonin’s gravesite, of course, whole-heartedly
was served by Nikko Shonin and his disciples, so the grave actually was not
neglected in this way. This passage uses such an expression to describe the
attitude of the five unfilial senior priests.
The Decision to Leave
The five senior priests failed to uphold the rotation system for
the gravesite. Furthermore, Niko, who was one of the six major disciples and
Hagiri Sanenaga, who was the steward of the area, both committed slanderous
acts against the true Law. Their actions of slandering the Law drove Nikko
Shonin to make the decision to leave Mt. Minobu.
Today, I will not discuss the details of their actions, but it is
important to note that Nikko Shonin never silently overlooked their slander of
Nikko Shonin directly met with Niko and Hagiri Sanenaga, denounced
their mistaken views, and tried to guide them back to the true spirit of the
Hagiri Sanenaga not only refused to heed Nikko Shonin’s
guidance—he disrespectfully retorted, “Minbu-ajari is my Master,” and rejected
Nikko Shonin’s admonitions. In an attempt to sever the ties between Niko and
Hagiri Sanenaga, Nikko Shonin ordered Niko to leave Mt. Minobu, due to the fact
that he had confused Hagiri Sanenaga and conspired with him to slander the Law
and oppose his Master.
Nikko Shonin strongly stated:
From this time on, we never will appoint a head of teacher
priests who commits such slander.
[“Reply to Lord Hara”], Rekizen,
vol.1, p. 170)
banished Niko from Minobu.
But Niko did not leave Minobu, and continued secretly to
influence Hagiri Sanenaga negatively. Under these serious circumstances, Nikko
Shonin finally made the decision to leave Minobu, following the Daishonin’s
will. He stated:
I received the
Daishonin’s will, which states that “I (Nichiren) should not reside in the same
district if the Lord of the Manor were to act contrary to the Law.”
(“Minasaka-bo gohenji,” Rekizen, vol.1, p. 113)
Shonin also stated:
It is impossible to express my regret and embarrassment at having
had to take leave of Minobu; however, the more I contemplate it, the more I
realize that no matter where one may be, the most important thing is to carry
on with the teachings of the Master and spread them among the people. This
being so, it is a shame that all of these disciples have turned against the
Master. Nikko alone has fathomed the Master's true intent, and since I feel I
am the person to carry on with the purpose of his advent, I shall not forsake
my true mission.
[“Reply to Lord Hara”], ibid., p. 172)
Leaving Minobu was not his original intention. However, he made
the firm decision to take the action of leaving Minobu in order to protect the
true teaching of the Daishonin. Regarding this passage, Fifty-ninth High Priest
Nichiko Shonin explained, “Even a foolish priest would say that those who read
this passage and remain calm are not followers of this sect.”
He taught us that if we understood Nikko Shonin’s heart, our
hearts would ache and we could not remain calm.
In this passage, we can understand Nikko Shonin’s deep
embarrassment and his resolution that states: “I am the only person who has
inherited the Daishonin’s Buddhism and the only one who can transmit it.”
Nikko Shonin decided that in order to protect the Daishonin’s
true Law and save the people of the Latter Day of the Law, the only choice
would be to leave Mt. Minobu, which became a site of slander, and move to a
pure place. With this, he moved forward with his decision to leave Minobu.
Nikko Shonin departed Mt. Minobu, because Niko and Hagiri
Sanenaga abandoned the teachings and committed various slanders of the Law.
However, this is only the surface reason.
If we consider these circumstances based on the doctrines of the
Daishonin, we can understand that the departure from Mt. Minobu was inevitable,
and it carries an even deeper significance. Nikko Shonin himself stated the
However, the more I contemplate it, the more I realize that no
matter where one may be, the most important thing is to carry on with the
teachings of the Master and spread them among the people.
in the world the site may be, it is important to propagate the true Law and
true teaching that the Daishonin has established correctly. And Nikko Shonin
resolved that he, himself, held this responsibility. He stated:
Nikko alone has fathomed the Master's true intent, and since I
feel I am the person to carry on with the purpose of his advent, I shall not
forsake my true mission.
(Seiten, p. 560)
We can understand the confidence and resolution of Nikko Shonin,
who possesses the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, entrusted to a single person. Furthermore,
we can recognize his confidence from the following passage:
The principles of the Fuji
School propagated by our master must be followed without even the slightest
(“Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikko” [“Nikko
yuikai okimon”] Gosho, p. 1883)
Nikko Shonin decided to follow the Daishonin’s will, and
establish the head temple where the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary
of the Essential Teaching would be enshrined, at a pure site, free of slander
against the Law.
Therefore, it can be said that Nikko Shonin’s true intention was
to ensure the perpetuation of the true Law of the Daishonin of and kosen-rufu
at a pure location, rather than merely to abandon the site of slander of the
A Place of the Finest
Then where is the pure place to establish the head temple and enshrine
the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching, following the
Daishonin’s will? Nichiren
Seek out a place of the finest scenery comparable to the pure
land of Eagle Peak and there erect the High Sanctuary.
(“On the Transmission of the Three Great Secret Laws” [“Sandai hiho bonjoji”], Gosho, p. 1595)
Concerning “a place of the finest scenery
comparable to the pure land of Eagle Peak,” the “Document for Entrusting
the Law that Nichiren Propagated throughout his Life” (“Nichiren ichigo guho
fuzokusho”) which is the document transferring the Heritage of the Law from
the Daishonin to Nikko Shonin states:
I, Nichiren, transfer the
entirety of the Law that I have propagated throughout my life to Byakuren Ajari
Nikko, and designate him the Great Master of Propagation of the Essential
Teaching. When the sovereign embraces this Law, establish the [True] High
Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at Mount Fuji. You must await the time. This is
the true Law of precepts. Above all else, my disciples must obey this document.
ichigo guho fuzokusho,” Gosho, p. 1675)
can see, the location was referenced with the statement, “establish the
[True] High Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at Mount Fuji.” Regarding the background of this passage, the following writing
Nikko hereby requests that, in general, a picturesque and scenic
location be chosen for its temple site as is customary in Buddhism. In this
case, as Nikko has heard that Mt. Fuji in Suruga is the most celebrated
mountain in Japan, it should be the place to establish Honmonji. When
kosen-rufu is actualized, and the sovereign accepts this Law, then it will be
mandatory to construct the High Sanctuary of Honmonji Temple at the foot of Mt.
(“Fuji isseki monto zonji
no koto,” Gosho, p. 1873)
Nikko Shonin had suggested to the Daishonin that the appropriate site of the
finest scenery to establish the High Sanctuary is Mt. Fuji in Suruga.
In the spring of the second year of Sho’o (1289), the eighth year
following the Daishonin’s passing, Nikko Shonin departed his dear and familiar
home of Minobu, together with Nichimoku Shonin and other disciples. He carried
with him: the Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching,
which is the true purpose of the Daishonin’s advent; the Daishonin’s ashes;
Goshos; and all the important treasures. They stayed in Kawai along the Fuji
River at the home of Nikko Shonin’s adoptive family, where he had spent his
There was a person whose heart ached throughout the course of
these troubling matters. This person was Nanjo Tokimitsu, and it was his eager
wish for Nikko Shonin to move to the Fuji Ueno region, where Tokimitsu was the
steward and landowner.
I would like briefly to talk about Nanjo Tokimitsu, who carried
out meritorious deeds in order to establish Taisekiji.
Nanjo Tokimitsu was born in the first year of Shogen (1259) and
was Lord of the Manor of Ueno. Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro was his father, and the
daughter of Matsuno Rokuro Zaemon was his mother.
It is said that his father, Nanjo Hyoe Shichiro took faith in the
Daishonin in Kamakura. He had pure faith, and he passed away in March of the
second year of Bunei (1265).
At that time, the Daishonin traveled from Kamakura to visit
Nanjo’s home in Ueno Fuji and prayed at his gravesite. Nanjo Tokimitsu, at that
time, was seven years old. He grew up as the head of the Nanjo Family, and
followed the example of his father’s faith. He received his education from his
mother and guidance from Nikko Shonin.
When the Daishonin met again with Nanjo Tokimitsu ten years
later, he stated:
I was deeply
grieved to hear of the death of Lord Hyo’e, who was a man in his prime. It seems that Lord Hyo’e himself
has renewed his youth and left his son as a bequest. Not only his appearance,
but also his attitude in faith does not differ from his father’s.
(“Nanjo gokeama gozen gohenji,” Gosho, p. 741)
As described in this Gosho passage, the Daishonin was surprised
to see that Tokimitsu was incredibly similar in appearance to his father, Nanjo
Furthermore, the Daishonin was
pleased to see how Nanjo Tokimitsu exerted himself in this practice. He stated:
You succeeded your father and believe in this sutra, and your
deceased father feels joy even from below the grass.
(“Reply to Lord Ueno,” Gosho,
I would like to make special mention of the meritorious deeds of
Nanjo Tokimitsu during the time of the Atsuhara Persecution, which
occurred from the Kenji era to the Koan era. During this period, he devoted
himself, following the guidance of Nikko Shonin, and protected priests and lay
believers, who were united in faith. He did this despite the various
oppressions he faced. The Daishonin stated:
write this letter in deep gratitude for the encouragement you are giving to
those involved in the Atsuhara Persecution.
(“Ueno dono gohenji,”Gosho, p. 1428)
admired Tokimitsu’s meritorious deeds during the Atsuhara Persecution and
bestowed upon him the honorific title, “Lord
Ueno the Wise.” With regards to the persecutions he was facing, the Daishonin
Your small village has been
heavily taxed and its people have been repeatedly put to forced labor, until
you yourself have no horse to ride, and your wife and children lack for
(“Reply to Lord Ueno,” Gosho, p. 1529)
Because of many oppressions and taxes, Tokimitsu’s circumstances
were such that he could not have a horse to ride and his wife and children
could not have sufficient clothing. Even under these deprived circumstances,
they continued to make offerings to the Daishonin.
The Site that Suits
the Four Gods
Nanjo Tokimitsu, who had firm faith and a strong
determination to protect the Law, invited Nikko Shonin to a site called
Oishigahara, which is located to the northeast of the Nanjo residence at the
foot of Mt. Fuji. Today, this residence is Myorenji Temple.
Oishigahara has views of scenic beauty along the
foot of Mt. Fuji, the most beautiful mountain in Japan, which often is covered
in white snow. Nikko Shonin mentioned the following about this location:
Mt. Fuji in the region of Suruga is a
vast land; [moreover,] first, it is in the country of Fuso, and second, it is
an excellent location that suits the four gods…it is the place to pray for the
great aspiration of the Daishonin.
isseki monto zonji no koto,”Gosho, p. 1873)
explained that this is the place of the finest scenery to establish the High
Sanctuary, based on the Daishonin’s aspiration.
“Suiting the four gods” comes from the principle of Yin and Yang for choosing
the best site, and it is deemed a valuable standard to follow in China and
Japan.The “four gods” indicates the gods of
the four directions: East,
Azure Dragon; West, White Tiger; South, Vermilion Bird; and North, Black
This refers to: East, river of running water; West, wide road;
South, large fields; and North, hills. These correspond to the Azure Dragon,
White Tiger, Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise.
Incidentally, it is said that the Heian era of Kyoto, Japan had
these same geographical features.
The river of the Azure Dragon in the east corresponds to the Urui
River, which is located on the east side of the current Head Temple. The wide road
of the White Tiger corresponds to the road from Kariyado, which is located on
the north side of the current Head Temple. It leads to Myorenji Temple, the
Shimono-bo and Fujinomiya City.
South signifies the marshy areas
of the Vermilion Bird. This corresponds to the rural areas located on the south
side of the current Head Temple. North indicates the hill of the Black
Tortoise. This corresponds to the current Sengohara Hill.
In this way, you can see that the Temple of Oishigahara, which is
the current Taisekiji, is the “place of the finest scenery that suits the four gods.”
Nikko Shonin was confident that Oishigahara was the sole place
that possessed the magnificence for establishing the High Sanctuary of the
Essential Teaching, where the Dai-Gohonzon can be enshrined, following the will
of the Daishonin.
At this finest place, beginning in the fall of the second year of
Sho’o (1289), Nichimoku Shonin, his disciple priests, Nanjo Tokimitsu, and
other sincere priests and lay believers began to construct Taisekiji under the
direction of Nikko Shonin.
In the fall of the following year, the third year of Sho’o
(1290), the first building at Taisekiji, the Mutsubo, was completed, and thus,
Taisekiji was established.
Afterwards, minor temples were established by Nichimoku Shonin
and other disciple priests. Due to the sincere protection from Nanjo
Tokimitsu’s family, the temple at Oishigahara was able to grow with
distinction, as the head temple of the Daishonin’s Buddhism. It has developed
over the centuries into the current Head Temple Taisekiji.
The Significance of
the Establishment of Taisekiji
I have thus described the circumstances of the establishment of
the Head Temple Taisekiji.
There are some people who insist that the spirit of the Daishonin
resides in Minobu, since Mt. Minobu is the pure and sacred place where Nichiren
Daishonin spent the last nine years of his life.
As I mentioned before, however, the Daishonin’s will states, “I
(Nichiren) should not reside in the same district, if the Lord of the Manor
were to act contrary to the Law.” Therefore, the spirit of the Daishonin would
never reside in a place where slander of the Law permeates. The slander
conducted by Niko and the Lord of the Manor, Hagiri Sanenaga, permeated all of
Mt. Minobu. Regarding this, Twenty-sixth High Priest Nichikan Shonin stated the
Mt. Minobu originally was a pure and sacred place, as stated by
Nichiren Daishonin, but after our founder passed away, the Lord of the Manor
slandered the Law, again and again. Even though Nikko Shonin remonstrated with
him, he never stopped, and the heart of our founder Nichiren Daishonin would
never reside in a place where slander of the Law fills the land.
Therefore, Nikko Shonin left Mt.
Minobu and moved to Mt. Fuji. He succeeded his Master’s way and never was
soiled with any impurity. Later, he transmitted the Law to Nichimoku, and
Nichimoku transmitted it to Nichido. For 400 and some-odd years until now, the
pure water of the Law never ceases to exist, just as one cup of water is poured
into the next. The heart of Nichiren Daishonin was poured into mine. Hence, his
heart resides at Mt. Fuji.
Rokkan-sho, p. 65)
He teaches that the heart of the Daishonin was transferred to the
Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, the Third High Priest Nichimoku Shonin, and
each successive High Priest, who inherited the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law,
entrusted to a single person. Today, it is in the heart of the Sixty-eighth
High Priest Nichinyo Shonin. Therefore, the heart of the Daishonin resides
here, at the Head Temple Taisekiji.
Taisekiji is called the origin of kosen-rufu, not only because
its site presents the finest scenery, but also because it is where the
Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching—which is the true
purpose of the Daishonin’s advent into this world—resides. It also is where the
High Priest, who possesses the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law and who has
inherited all of the teachings of the Daishonin, resides.
The Dai-Gohonzon of the High Sanctuary of the Essential Teaching
and the Lifeblood Heritage of the Law, entrusted to a single person, are the
core teachings of Nichiren Shoshu.
Today, I have described the circumstances surrounding the
establishment of Taisekiji. I hope that all of you who have made this tozan
pilgrimage will overcome all difficulties, through understanding the
significance of why Nikko Shonin selected this site and established the Head
Temple Taisekiji. Furthermore, I hope that all of you will exert yourselves by
following the example of the sincere faith of Nanjo Tokimitsu and the senior
Hokkeko believers who have protected the priesthood.
Nichiren Shoshu is progressing vigorously toward the achievement
of the objectives given to us by the High Priest for the years 2015 and 2021.
There is no way to achieve them other than to conduct shakubuku. I hope that
all of you will exert yourselves to do shakubuku in your countries and regions.
I would like to conclude my
lecture by praying from the bottom of my heart for your increased faith and