The Origin of the Fuji School

Nikko Shonin, Nichiren Daishonin's designated successor, was born on March 8, 1246, in Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) Japan. In 1258 at Jissoji temple in nearby Iwamoto, Nikko met Nichiren Daishonin, who was reviewing various Buddhist scriptures in preparation for writing "On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land" in the temple's sutra library, and chose to follow him as his disciple.

As the designated successor of Nichiren Daishonin, Nikko established the doctrine that regards Nichiren Daishonin as the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law and the great mandala, which Nichiren inscribed, as the object of devotion. The school of Nichiren Buddhism as founded by Nikko is called the Nikko lineage or the Fuji school. Nichiren designated five other priests as seniors in charge of protecting his teachings.

The doctrine of the Fuji school may be understood through the concept of the three treasures. Nichiren Daishonin is regarded as the treasure of the Buddha, the Gohonzon as the treasure of the Law and Nikko as the treasure of the Buddhist Community.

In contrast, the five senior priests did not view Nichiren Daishonin as the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. Contrary to Nichiren's own teachings, they declared themselves to be priests of the Tendai school and eventually propounded their own teachings that are not consistent with those of Nichiren Daishonin. Nikko refuted those erroneous doctrines in writings such as "The Guidelines for Believers of the Fuji School" (Gosho Zenshu, pp. 1601–09) and "On Refuting the Five Priests" (GZ, 1610–17)."

The essential creed of the Nikko lineage is as follows:

1) The Gohonzon as the Basis—The Nikko lineage regards the mandala inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin, that is, the Gohonzon, as the object of devotion. On the contrary, the schools originated from the five senior priests use a variety of objects in worship, including a statue of Shakyamuni.

2) Kosen-rufu—In his "Twenty-six Admonitions," Nikko states, "Until kosen-rufu is achieved, propagate the Law to the full extent of your ability without begrudging your life" (GZ, 1618). Nikko regarded one's practice for kosen-rufu as the basis of faith. This spirit of kosen-rufu is evident in the efforts of Nikko and his successor, Nichimoku, in remonstrating repeatedly with the shogunate government and the imperial household. Nikko's efforts to foster capable disciples and send them throughout Japan also clearly demonstrate his desire for the propagation of Nichiren Buddhism.

3) Direct Connection with Nichiren Daishonin—Nikko regarded Nichiren Daishonin as the original Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law and the fundamental teacher. In so doing, Nikko established the faith of Nichiren Buddhism and inherited Nichiren's spirit. This contrasts sharply with the attitude of the five senior priests who regarded themselves as T'ien-t'ai's disciples. They asserted that even in the Latter Day of the Law, Shakyamuni should be regarded as the lord of teachings (the Buddha revered in a particular school) and Nichiren Daishonin merely as a messenger to spread Shakyamuni's teaching. On the contrary, Nikko acknowledged Nichiren as the lord of teachings in the Latter Day of the Law while viewing Shakyamuni as the lord of teachings in the Former and Middle Days of the Law.