The Nichiren Buddhism【ミステリーな日蓮 英訳版】 1.Kanzo Uchimura and Nichiren

1. Kanzo Uchimura and Nichiren

         Hiroto Ema

Kanzo Uchimura (1861-1930) selected five Japanese and described their lives in English to show the culture and thought of Japan to the West. This led to “Representative men of Japan”, which was published in the same year as the Russo-Japanese War. In this work, Uchimura selected Nichiren as one of the representative Japanese. Needless to say, Nichiren was an extraordinary monk of Buddhism who was hated by the Kamakura Shogunate and transported twice. Considering that the rest of the five were Takamori Saigo, Yozan Uesugi, Sontoku Ninomiya, and Toujyu Nakae, all of whom were active in the field of politics, economy, or education during the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, it seems strange that Uchimura selected Nichiren. Why? In “Representative men of Japan”, Uchimura explains the reason as follows.


“Divested therefore of his thirteenth century garb, of the aberration of his critical knowledge, and of a little taint of insanity that might have dwelt in him (as it dwells in all great men, I suppose), there stands before us a remarkable figure, one of the greatest of his kind in the world. No more independent man can I think of among my countrymen. Indeed, he by his originality and independence made Buddhism a Japanese religion.”


Uchimura praised the “originality and independence” of Nichiren as being comparable to those of “the greatest of his kind in the world”. Then, how were the “originality and independence” of Nichiren put forth in his age? With regard to this point, Uchimura plainly explains as follows.


“His sect alone is purely Japanese, while all others have had their beginnings either in Hindoo, or Chinese, or Korean minds.”


Uchimura says the belief which Nichiren popularized was his own and a new creation different from what was spread in India, China, or Korea. When we hear the name of Nichiren, we might remember the Daimoku “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo (南無妙法蓮華経)”, and the Mandala(Gohonzon) on which it was written magnificently. In fact, it has been believed that the Daimoku and Mandala(Gohonzon) were created by Nichiren, and not existed before him. So, from the next section, I would like to cast light on the mystery how the Daimoku “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo(南無妙法蓮華経)” and Mandala(Gohonzon) were created.

july 1st  2018


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(Next section will be released on August 1st).

The Nichiren Buddhism