Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#004【ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」英訳版】

Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#004


Hiroto Ema


Chapter 1

Political position of Nichiren sect


3.“The February riot” and the oppression of Nichiren

After the prophecy of “On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the peace of the Land” was realized with the arrival of a official letter from Mongolia in 1268, the sect led by Nichiren expanded rapidly, and according to Nichiren, more than 10 per cent of Japanese joined him(22). Later, he recalled that the shogunate should have treated him as the Master of State(23), and specified the treatment as (1) The highest honors in Japan would be bestowed upon me, (2) Awarded the title of Great Teacher while still alive, (3) Consulted about the Mongols, invited to the war council, and (4) Asked to defeat them through the power of prayer. It should be noted that they were the treatments Nichiren hoped for from the shogunate. So the ideal of establishing the correct teaching for the peace of the land had already included the political aim of Nichiren for his treatment.


On the other hand, the high priests who were criticized by Nichiren more bitterly than ever claimed that the sect was slandering others, committing arsons, and gathering arms. In those days, a group of villains was committing atrocities and disturbing security of Kamakura, so the shogunate, which faced the threat of Mongolia as well, got nervous about security and ordered the expulsion of the group. Apparently, the high priests included the sect of Nichiren in the group and asked the shogunate to take strong measures against it. Furthermore, they ingratiated themselves with Goke-ama-gozen (the widow nun Kasai-dono, 1233-1317), who was a daughter of Gokurakuji Shigetoki (Hōjō Shigetoki), the wife of the late regent Hōjō Tokiyori, as well as the mother of Hōjō Tokimune who was the regent then, and told her a made-up story that Nichiren claimed Tokiyori and Shigetoki had gone to hell(24), and incited hostility to him in her. Thus the friends and acquaintances of Goke-ama had strong grudge against Nichiren for a long time, calling him “the enemy of late Tokiyori and Shigetoki”. And again, when the Atsuhara persecution occurred in Fuji in 1279, Goke-ama is said to have pulled strings behind the scene(25).


Also about the Tatsunokuchi execution in September 1271 and the transportation to Sado Island that followed, Nichiren said “Those widows who were lay nuns insisted that investigation was unnecessary; rather, I should have my head cut off at once, and my disciples should likewise be beheaded or exiled to distant lands or placed in confinement. So infuriated were they that their demands for punishment were immediately carried out”(26), thus asserted the execution and transportation were arbitrary disposition by the request of Goke-ama.


According to Formulary of Adjudications, the condition of Nichiren’s beheading was that he commit murder or bloodshed, and the punishment of slandering was at most a transportation. About the lawless attempt to behead him, Nichiren said “Ostensibly I was being banished to a distant region, but secretly it had been decided that I would have my head cut off”(27). So he understood this attempt as a political plot. The mandator of the execution whom Goke-ama requested was Taira no Yoritsuna , a commander of the army and police office.


Nichiren barely evaded this attempt by a letter of Hōjō Tokimune, then the regent(28). About Tokimune’s measures, Nichiren mentioned a story that the first wife of Tokimune had been last month of pregnancy and Tokimune disliked the lawless execution of Nichiren(29). But it is more likely that someone persuaded Tokimune that way, rather than Tokimune decided so by himself. Furthermore, it seems more natural that this episode is one of the storms within the center of the shogunate, where Adachi Yasumori, a member of the decision-making body, reined in Yoritsuna, who was apt to take excessive measures. Anyway, it should be noted the cooperation between Goke-ama and Yoritsuna was an important factor of the oppression of Nichiren.


Further, the attempt to behead Nichiren and “the February riot” seem to relate each other. In February 1272, Nagoe Tokiaki, who occupied the third important position in the shogunate next to the regent and Rensho (the assistant to the regent), and his brother Noritoki were killed on suspicion of treason, and Nagoe clan lost power. But the ringleader of the raid was Yoritsuna, and it occurred four months after Nichiren was transported. In this incident, some of Nichiren’s disciple, such as Izawa-no-Nyuudou, were killed or injured as well, so Nichiren asked his disciples to notify him the names of those who were killed in Kyoto or Kamakura, and later recalled that “If I hadn’t been transported to Sado Island and remained in Kamakura, I must have been killed in the February riot“(30). And about the murder of Nagoe clan, he expressed his mortification, saying “They were the irreplaceable generals of Japan, but killed without any reason”, “On 11th February the ninth year of Bun’ei(1272), flowers in full bloom were blown by a storm, and clean silks were burnt by a big fire”(31). Nagoe-no-ama left Nichiren about this time, but later regretted it and with Nii-ama, the wife of her son Noritoki, who was killed in the February riot, asked Nichiren for a Mandala Gohonzon(32).


This sequence of events shows the depth of relationship between Nichiren and Nagoe clan, and it might have related directly to the treatment of Nichiren.



(22) “Zemmui Sanzō shō: The Tripitaka Master Shan-wu-wei.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 476; “Nakaoki-nyūdō goshōsoku.” ibid., pp. 1715.

(23) “Shuju onfurumai gosho: The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 959.

(24) “Shuju onfurumai gosho: The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 962.

(25) “The province of Suruga is the domain of the lord of Sagami (the regent Hōjō Tokimune), and the Fuji area in particular is full of those related to Goke-ama-gozen. These people feel great rancor toward me because they look upon me as an enemy of the late lay priests of Saimyō-ji (Hōjō Tokiyori) and Gokuraku-ji (Hōjō Shigetoki).” (“Takahashi Nyūdō dono gohenji: Reply to the Lay Priest Takahashi.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp 1089)

(26) “Hō’on shō: On Repaying Debts of Gratitude.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1238.

(27) “Shimoyama goshōsoku: Letter to Shimoyama.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1332.

(28) “Shuju onfurumai gosho: The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 968.

(29) “Shuju onfurumai gosho: The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 973.

(30) “Shijō Kingo dono gohenji: A Warning against Begrudging One’s Fief.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1363.”Shingon shoshū imoku: Errors of the True Word and Other Schools.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 638.

(31) “Kōnichi-bō gosho: Letter to Kōnichi-bō.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1154; “Kyōdai shō: Letter to the Brothers.” ibid., pp. 925.

(32) “Niiama gozen gohenji: Reply to Niiama.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 866, 869.


July 1st 2020


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ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」#004




第1章 日蓮教団の政治的立場





 一方、日蓮から一段と激しい批判を受けた高僧らは、日蓮教団が悪口・放火・武器の集結などを行っていると訴える。当時、鎌倉には悪党と称される集団が蛮行を働き治安を乱しており、幕府は蒙古への防御からも治安には神経を使い、悪党の追放を命じていた。高僧らは、日蓮教団をその一群に加え、処断を求めたようである。さらに重時の娘であり、時頼の妻であり、現執権・時宗の母である後家尼御前(葛西殿 1233-1317)に取り入り、時頼と重時は地獄に堕ちたと日蓮が喧伝している、との作り話を聞かせ(24)、日蓮に対する敵愾心を高揚させた。後家尼に縁ある人々は後々まで「亡き時頼、重時殿のかたき」と日蓮を恨み、1279年(弘安2)の富士における熱原法難にも後家尼の介在が疑われる(25)。