Politics and Doctrine of Nichiren Buddhism#005【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#005


Hiroto Ema


Chapter 1

Political position of Nichiren sect


4.Rivalry between Adachi Yasumori and Taira no Yoritsuna

The later half of Nichiren’s days (1272-82) coincided with the reign of Hōjō Tokimune, and during this period, the rivalry between Adachi Yasumori and Taira no Yoritsuna was going on within the shogunate. Yasumori was the head of the vassals and as the father-in-law of Tokimune represented interests of the eastern samurais. On the other hand, Yoritsuna, though just an private officer of the head family, took advantage of the strong and private relationship with the head family of Hōjō tribe and deeply involved in politics.


The February riot, which made the decline of Nagoe clan inevitable, was the attack prepared by Yoritsuna, who as the head of private officers of the head family commanded it. In the end, the shogunate tried to save the situation by executing another private officers of the head family, claiming that he accidentally shoot Nagoe Tokiaki who was innocent. So this riot was a reverse phenomenon in which Yasumori, the representative of outsiders, objected against an incident led by insiders and by contraries punished them(33). Thus it can be regarded as the beginning of the hot rivalry between Yoritsuna and Yasumori, and the change of the treatment for Nichiren and his sect in the latter period might have been deeply related to it.


Here we would like to take the example of Hiki Yoshimoto, an influential supporter for Nichiren. Originally Yoshimoto and Yasumori were relatives and, as Yoshihide Kiyota points out, Yoshimoto was Yasumori’s master of calligraphy(34). From then on, this relationship between Yoshimoto and Yasumori decided the position of Nichiren and his sect. Equally, since Yasumori had stood for Nichiren by the exertion of Yoshimoto, Tokimune, the regent, might have decided to stop beheading him(35). And also in the February riot, while Yasumori the outsider won over insiders, the disciples of Nichiren were released and Nichiren himself was moved from Tsukahara to near the residence of Ichinosawa Nyuudou for better treatment. During Nichiren’s transportation to Sado Island, Hōjō Nobutoki, who had Nichiren under his charge, oppressed him by issuing false letters of the shogunate three times(36). And as Shigeo Hosokawa points out(37), Nobutoki belonged to pro-Yoritsuna faction. When Nobutoki failed at beheading Nichiren at the night in Tatsunokuchi, he left Kamakura early morning in spite of being in charge of watching on Nichiren, and headed for a spa of Atami. It might be an intentional sabotage with an expectation that Yasumori and his supporters would regain power. And when Nenbutsu monks plotted to put Nichiren to the sword, Honma Shigetsura, then the vice governor of Sado Island, revealed that he had a rider that they should not kill Nichinren and dismissed the plot(38). Thus, even in the transportation, Nichiren was embroiled in the intense rivalry between them.


Futhermore, according to the theory by Kazuto Hongo that Hōjō Yoshimasa, who had been appointed to Rensho and the governor of Musashi country the year before and put Nichiren under his charge, in fact belonged to pro-Yasumori faction(39), Yasumori seems to have influenced the pardon of Nichiren of fourteenth February 1274. Though Nichiren complained about the false letters to Tokimune and it led to his pardon, the timing of filing the complaint must have been weighed by Yoshimoto and Yasumori. On twelfth February, shortly before the pardon of Nichiren, a battle occurred in Kamakura and Nagoe Chikatoki was attacked, but he got over it and the battle ended(40). So it seems that the preparation for the pardon was done around this time. Later, Nichiren expressed his deepest gratitude for Yoshimoto(41). And the improvement of the treatment of Nichinren might have been carried out when Yasumori and his supporters succeeded in containing pro-Yoritsuna faction so that pro-Yasumori faction gained the ascendancy over Yoritsuna.


While being in Sado Island, Nichiren strictly forbade his disciples to act for his pardon and affirmed that those who broke it wouldn’t be his disciple any more(42). Nichiren must have feared that actions of his disciples would be used politically, and it proves he was strongly conscious of the political movement in Kamakura, especially the rivalry between Yoritsuna and Yasumori. While Nichiren stimulated religious sentiment of his disciples by criticizing the shogunate for inviting the invasion of Mongolia, his order forbidding any real action must have been a result of his cool-headed calculation of real politics.


After Nichiren went into Minobu mountain, the oppression against him came to a halt. But during the years from 1275 to 1278, his disciples got to be oppressed as pro-Yoritsuna faction expanded(43). Especially in June 1277, when Yoshimasa, then the Rensho, retired and got punished, Shijō Yorimoto was slandered and forced to write an oath that he should discard the faith in Lotus Sutra. And in October, when Yoritsuna joined the inner-decision-making body, Ikegami Munenaka and his brother Munenaga got to be oppressed similarly and Munenaka was disowned by his father. So it seems that the aim of oppression changed from Nichiren himself to the estrangement between him and his disciples. Yet, these persecutions ended immediately when “a single word from Kami(above)” (“Shijō Kingo dono gosho: Nine Thoughts to One Word.”Syōwa Teihon Nichiren syōnin ibun, ed. Rissyō University, pp. 1437) arrived, and this fact must have related to the movement of pro-Yasumori faction.


On the other hand, the force and size of the sect which had declined after Nichiren had been transported to Sado Island was recovered with the invasive action by Mongolia, and its missions enlarged. During this period, Nichiren criticized insiders such as Yoritsuna bitterly, saying they were “the worms in a lion’s body which eat away at and kill it” and “those who make their ways in the world protected by the regent, under cover of his authority, threaten everyone, causing them suffering and distress”(44). So it is easy to imagine that those who had been criticized, such as Yoritsuna and Ninshō(Shingon-Ritsu esoteric sect monk 1217-1303), waited for a chance to attack Nichiren. And Goke-ama would be behind them as the symbol of the head family.


The Nichiren sect of late-stage confronted the forces connected with insiders, such as Goke-ama (members of the head family), Yoritsuna (insiders), and Ninshō (monks), and swayed on the fierce rivalry between Yasumori and Yoritsuna.



(33)Susumu Ishii. Kamakurabito no koe wo kiku, NHK Publishing, 2000, pp. 150.

   (34)Yoshihide Kiyota. “‘Hiki shi no ran’ go no Hiki shi.” Kanazawa bunko kenkyū 217, 1974.

   (35) Hiroo Satō, op. cit., pp. 201.

   (36) According to Nichiren, Hōjō Nobutoki, after having accepted the slander of Nenbutsu monks, said “there was no need to report it to the regent” and “he sent private orders” (“Shuju onfurumai gosho: The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 978). So he criticized that Nobutoki had sent “false official documents” (“Kubo-no-ama gozen gohenji: False Official Documents.” ed. Rissyo University, op. cit., pp. 1503). About this point, Shigeo Hosokawa points out that under the autocracy by Yoritsuna after the Shimotsuki riot, many of important political measures of the head family got to be taken by the official documents of the butler which didn’t have the regent signature (Hosokawa, op. cit., pp. 163). So the “private orders” could be similar to the official documents of the butler.

    (37) Hosokawa, op. cit., pp. 36.

    (38) “Shuju onfurumai gosho: The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp 973-974.

    (39) Kazuto Hongou. Shin chūsei ōken ron, Shin Jinbutsu Ōrai Sya, 2004, pp. 185.

    (40) “Yorimoto chinjō: The Letter of Petition from Yorimoto.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1358.

    (41) “Daigaku Saburō gosyo.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1619.

    (42) “Shingon shoshū imoku: Errors of the True Word and Other Schools.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 638.

    (43) Shigeo Hosokawa points out that Yoritsuna assumed the post of the butler of the head family after his father Moritoki died in 1275 (Hosokawa, op. cit., pp. 163). On the other hand, Yoshihiko Amino surmises that the repeated retirements of the important officials of the shogunate, which occurred from 1276 to the next year, was due to the critical rivalry between Adachi Yasumori and Taira no Yoritsuna (Amino. Mōko Syūrai, Syōgakukan Library, 1974, pp. 252).

    (44) “Kubo-no-ama gozen gohenji: False Official Documents.” ed. Rissyō University, op. cit., pp. 1503.


August 1st 2020


Please let us know your feedback via e-mail.

( Next section will be released on September 1st )

Back Number→The Nichiren Buddhism




ミステリーな日蓮 〈番外編〉「日蓮と政治」#005


第1章 日蓮教団の政治的立場















 身延入山後、日蓮個人に対する弾圧は終息する。一方、建治年間には頼綱派の伸張(43)と符節を合わせ、門弟に圧迫が加えられた。特に連署義政の遁世と処分があった1227年(建治3)6月、四条頼基は讒言をもとに「法華棄経」の起請文を書くよう迫られ、10月に頼綱が寄合衆に加わると、池上宗仲、宗長の兄弟も同様の圧迫を受けて、宗仲は父から勘当される。弾圧の狙いが日蓮本人から、門弟と日蓮の離間に移ったようすがうかがえる。ところが、これらの弾圧も、ほぼ時を同じく「上の御一言」(「四条金吾殿御書」『昭和定本 日蓮聖人遺文』立正大学編1437頁)で終息しており、これも泰盛派の動きと無関係ではあるまい。


 一方、佐渡流罪によって衰えた教勢は、蒙古襲来の動きを受けて息を吹き返し、教線も拡大していた。日蓮はこの時期、頼綱を筆頭とする御内人を「獅子身中の虫」と言い、「守殿の御恩にてすぐる人々が、守殿の御威をかりて人々を脅し、悩まし、わずらわし候」(44)と痛烈に批判する。これに反駁する頼綱や忍性(真言律 1217-1303)などが、攻撃の機会をうかがっていたことは想像に難くない。背後には後家尼が、得宗家を象徴する存在として控えていたであろう。