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NICHIMOKU was the third high priest of Nichiren Shoshu. He was also called Niidakyo
Ajari Nichimoku. He was born in Hatake Village of Nitta District of Izu Province. His
father was Niida Goro Shigetsuna and his mother, called Ren'a-ni, was an elder sister of
Nanjo Tokimitsu. His childhood name was Torao-maru.
At the age of thirteen he entered a temple called Izu-san A year later, in 1274, he witnessed
a religious debate between a priest of Izu-san temple, and Nikko Shonin. At that moment, he
resolved to become Nikko Shonin's disciple. In I275 he went to Minobu, where he took the
tonsure and was ordained by Nichiren Daishonin.
Nichimoku Shonin served the Daishonin for the next six years until the Daishonin's death.
Whenever the Daishonin preached, Nichimoku was there. He spared no effort in serving the
Daishonin, and it was said that he was so diligent in making several trips daily to fetch
water from the mountain stream that his head developed a slight depression from carrying
In 1282, when Nichiren Daishonin went to the residence of Ikegami Munenaka shortly
before his death, a learned priest of the Tendai sect named Ise Hōin challenged him to
debate. The Daishonin appointed Nichimoku Shonin to represent him, and Nichimoku at age
22 defeated the elder Tendai scholar. After the Daishonin passed away, Nichimoku served
Nikko Shonin, and took part in the rotation system for attending the Daishonin's tomb. He
also devoted himself to propagation activity in Izu Province and in the Oshu area in the
In I289, when Nikko Shonin left Minobu, Nichimoku Shonin worked with Nanjo Tokimitsu
and others to help establish Taiseki-ji. When the priests’ lodge (Dai-bō) was completed in
1290, he privately received the transfer of the Daishonin's teachings from Nikko Shonin and
in turn built a lodging temple called the Renzo-bo.
In 1332, Nikko Shonin gave Nichimoku Shonin a transfer document entitled the "Nikkō Ato
Joto no Kōtō" (Articles to Be Observed after Nikkō's Death), officially transferring the Dai-
Gohonzon to him and charging him with the administration of Taisekiji and the observance
of daily worship for kosen-rufu. At this time Nichimoku Shonin became the third high priest.
On behalf of Nichiren Daishonin and Nikko Shonin, he remonstrated with the Kamakura
government, the imperial court, court nobles and leading samurai on dozens of occasions,
urging them to take faith in the Daishonin's Buddhism. In May of 1333), the Kamakura
government collapsed and power reverted to the imperial court in Kyoto. Nichimoku Shonin
resolved to remonstrate again with the new authorities and urge them to accept the
Daishonin's teachings. In November of that year, having transferred the office of high priest
to fourth high priest Nichido Shonin, he set out for Kyoto, accompanied by his disciples
Nichizon and Nichigo. The journey was a cold and grueling. Nichimoku Shonin took ill and
passed way en route at Tarui in Mino Province on November 15, 1333.
Excerpted, and edited from
A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms and Concepts,
Nichiren Shoshu International Center, Tokyo 1983
1260 - 1333