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2022年 05月 18日

58. Nichiren Enters Minobu Mountain


Mt. Minobu seen from the window of the Minobu Railway. 1153 meters high.

 Under a clear May sky, Nichiren and his disciple, Hoki-bo Nikko, were walking along the street.

Wiping sweat off their faces, they walked along the long road.

Nichiren left Kamakura for the west, passing through Suruga and heading for Kai.

In Kai, there was a landowner named Sanenaga Hakiri, who was the land steward. Nichiren intended to depend on this Hakiri. Hakiri began this faith under the guidance of Hoki-bo. Therefore, he is probably the right person for the job. Now that he had left Kamakura, he had no choice but to rely on this landowner.

Nichiren passed through Sakasa River (Odawara), avoided the slopes of Hakone, and went north to Takenoshita. From here, he went southward, looking to the right at Mt.Fuji, until he reached Kurumagaeshi (Numazu). From here, he continued westward through Fujinomiya and entered Kai. It is a route that circles halfway around the south of Mt.Fuji.

Suruga is home to many followers of Nichiren. If he went there, he was sure to be welcomed with open arms. However, Nichiren did not even try to meet him and passed him by.

There were circumstances that made it impossible for him to stay in Suruga for long. This land was under the jurisdiction of Hojo Tokimune, and in particular, the area around Fuji was the domain of many widows of the shogunate's retainers. These women regarded Nichiren as a thorn in their side and the followers of the Lotus Sutra as coldly eyed. When they found out that Nichiren had arrived, there was bound to be a commotion. He was not able to make a believer of Suruga into a victim for such a reason.

The following is a letter he wrote to one of his followers in Suruga, Takahashi Irimichi. Takahashi was living in Kashima (Fuji City). His wife was the aunt of Hoki-bo Nikko. He was a strong believer and a central figure in the Fuji region. Nichiren passed by Takahashi without meeting him.

Later, in a letter to Takahashi, he wrote about how he had returned to Kamakura from Sado and left Kamakura after remonstrating with the shogunate. In addition, Nichiren wrote about the pain he felt when he passed through Suruga.

 “When I was in the land of Sado, I should have been able to retire into any mountain or seaside from the land of Sado, but now I have come to tell this matter once more to Hei no Saemon, so that I may save the sentient beings who are left behind in Japan. After remonstrating with him, I knew I should not stay in Kamakura, so I let my feet take me on my journey. As I was well acquainted with all of you who lived along the way, I thought a thousand times that I would see you this one time, even though you would be annoyed to see me, and I felt conflicted in my heart, but I passed by your place. Because the land of Suruga is the domain of His Highness Tokimune, and in particular, Fuji is home to many people who are part of the widows of nun. They would be angry that the enemies of the late lord Saumyo-ji and Gokuraku-ji have come. Therefore, if they hear that I have come, everyone must be grieved as a result. This is the only reason why I have passed your place by. So, until now I have been taking pity on you all and have not responded to you.” ‘Reply to Takahashi Nyudo'

 It says "I felt conflicted in my heart.” Contrary to the expectations of the disciple, it was a painful choice to pass through Suruga.

Nichiren and his disciple Minbu Nikou rested in the shade of a tree.

They had already passed through Suruga and entered Kai. Having been abandoned by the Lord of the Land, he was wandering about. As expected, he was very tired.

Nikou offered some coins at a nearby farmhouse and asked for rice in exchange, but was refused.

 All the peasants said coldly.

“We have no rice to sell.”

Nikou gave up and came back.

“Master, we’re in trouble.”

 Nichiren encourages him.

“It's all right. We must be patient. Hoki-bo is waiting for us. Let's hurry.”

 Nikou asked.

"Master, will lord Hakiri of Minobu accept you?

“I don't know.”

Nichiren wrote his message to Jonin Toki in Kamakura, and then stood up feebly. In the letter, he wrote a detailed itinerary of his journey to Minobu and frankly complained that he was dying of hunger because he could not get rice.

“Starvation is a severe situation. Nobody sells even 180 milliliters of rice to me. We will perhaps die of hunger. I will send back all of these disciples and I am staying here alone now. Please hear this situation to the disciples.

We arrived in Sakawa on the twelfth day of this month. I was in Takenoshita on the thirteenth day, Kurumagaeshi was on the fourteenth day, Omiya was on the fifteenth day, Nanbu was on the sixteenth day, and today I am here on the seventeenth day. Though I have not decided, because this location in the mountains is satisfactory to me, it is likely that I will remain here for a while. In the end, I will become alone and roam the country of Japan. But if I make a long stay anywhere, I will meet you there. 

Sincerely yours,


Seventeenth day of the month

To Lord Toki.”

Toki Jonin was six years older than Nichiren and was the oldest follower of Nichiren, having joined the order in the year of its declaration of independence of the sct. In this sense, in his letters to Jonin, Nichiren candidly revealed his own feelings at the time without concealment. In other words, it seems that Nichiren felt strongly about Jonin as a Law friend, beyond the external relationship of teacher and disciple.

The town of Kamakura was crowded with soldiers who were on their way to Tsukushi to fight against the Mongols.

The soldiers were lined up in a line, with the armored warlord leading the way.

Wives, children, and elderly parents crowded around to bid farewell. The soldiers were in tears, but they were separated.

The warhorses gradually moved away.

His wife, children, and family members looked on forever.

The procession of war horses continued along the road.

Nichiren gazed at them along the road, but eventually turned his back on them and walked into the mountains.

The road to Kai was covered with dense forests. Nichiren took his staff and climbed up.

His clothes were already soiled from the long journey. The sound of a mountain stream and the cries of wild birds began to echo along the path. Deer and monkeys appeared and disappeared. It was a world apart from the rest of the world.

 Minobu in Kai Province was a small, flat area surrounded by mountains on all sides.

Apart from a couple of buildings that looked like samurai residences, there were only a few peasant houses. It was a secluded region.

Hoki-bo found Nichiren and ran to him.

"The saint."

Nichiren's eyes narrowed.

“Hoki-bo, you've waited. Thank you for your trouble.”

"You must be tired. This way, please."

Sanenaga Hakiri, the owner of the samurai residence, greeted them with his family.

Hoki-bo introduced him.

“This is the land steward, lord Hakiri Sanenaga. He became a believer when I preached the Lotus Sutra to him. When he heard that the saint was coming to Kai, he said he would like to invite him.”

Sanenaga bowed his head.

“I am Hakiri Rokuro Sanenaga. I am pleased that you have come to this remote place. Please take your time and enjoy your stay.”

There is an echo of arrogance in his tone of voice.

“I am deeply thankful for your kindness.”

Nichiren bowed his head deeply, a gesture he had never shown to anyone before. Then he looked at the mountains around him.

“I have a feeling that this place is dear to my heart. Lord Hakiri, can we rent a house, anywhere?”

Sanenaga responded.

 "A house, sir? That's a problem... Yes, there is a house that was not being used. If you don't mind if it's old.”

 Nichiren bowed his head deeply again.

 Sanenaga instructed his attendants.

 “Take the high priest with you. He seems to be tired from his long journey. Let him take a good rest. Here you go."

 Nichiren's group was followed by the attendants, and Sanenaga followed them.

 It was in a forest about half a mile from the steward's large residence. There was an old house surrounded by large trees in the rear.

 Hoki-bo and Nikou looked up at the dark, shabby house. They opened the door and looked inside, but the wooden floor was cracked and the walls were stained with dirt. It was the complete opposite of the brand new house in Kamakura. It reminded me of the funeral house in Sado Island.

 Sanenaga sneered to himself.

“I'm sorry, I have neglected it for many years, and it is more damaged than I expected. I am a land steward, but I don't have a lot of leeway. It's not easy to collect the annual tribute. I can't even afford to build my own house. Such a place would be unsuitable for an eminent priest.”

Nichiren was surprisingly smiling.

“No, this is a good house. Thank you. Would you be willing to let me rent this place for a while to train?”

 Hoki-bo and Nikou looked at each other in surprise.

 Sanenaga laughed.

 "Be your guest.”


The name "Hakiri" is another name for Minobu in Kai Province. The Hakiri clan was also known as the Nanbu clan. The name "Nanbu" means the southern end of Kai Province.

Sanenaga Hakiri's ancestry is rich in vicissitudes.

His bloodline was that of the Kawachi Genji clan. His ancestor was Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, who was victorious in the Ninth Former Years War (1051 - 1062) and the Third Later Years War (1083 - 187) that took place in Oshu in the middle of the 11th century. Yoshimitsu's elder brother was Hachiman Taro Yoshiie. The fifth generation from Yoshie became Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate.

On the other hand, his younger brother Yoshimitsu was promoted to the positions of Governor of Hitachi and Governor of Kai after the latter three years of the war, which led the family to take root in Kai.

Yoshimitsu's grandson was Takeda Nobuyoshi, who became the governor of Kai, and his younger brother, Mitsutou, participated in Minamoto no Yoritomo's army and fought hard in the battle of Ishibashi Mountain.

The first Mitsuyuki of the Hakii clan was the third son of this Mitsutou. His territory was located in the southern part of Kai Prefecture on the right bank of the Fuji River at the foot of the western side of Mount Fuji, so his name came to be known as Nanbu.

Mitsuyuki is also said to be the first generation of the later Nanbu domain in Tohoku. He served Minamoto no Yoritomo and Hojo, and for his services, he took part of Mutsu (Aomori Prefecture) as his territory. His descendants expanded their territory in the Tohoku region and established the later Nanbu domain.

Sanenaga, who welcomed Nichiren to the Minobu Mountains, was the third son of Mitsuyuki.

Nichiren arrived at Hakiri in Minobu on May 17, Bun'ei 11 (1274), and it is written in his book that he established a small hermitage on June 10, one month later.


“On the 17th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of Bun'ei, I chopped down a tree in the mountain and built a poor hermitage. Four years later, the pillars were rotting and the walls were falling down, but I was unable to repair them. Therefore, even without lighting a fire at night, he was able to read the scripture gratefully by the light of the moon, and without opening the scripture himself, the wind naturally blew the scripture back.” ‘The Restoration of a Hermitage.’ 

by johsei1129 | 2022-05-18 19:50 | LIFE OF NICHIREN | Trackback | Comments(0)
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