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Mount Senko - Seichoji Temple

Major Temples

Address:
322-1 Kiyosumi, Amatsu Kominato-cho,
Awa-gun, Chiba Prefecture

Transportation:
JR Sotobo-line Awa-Amatsu Station,15 minutes by Seicho-ji bus,exit at the last stop,3 minutes on foot.

This is the sacred place where Nichiren Shonin entered priesthood, and the main temple where he powerfully declared the establishment of a new sect based on the Lotus Sutra (Rikkyo kaishu).

click small photo to enlarge

Click small photo to enlarge.

The temple is near the Shonin's birthplace of Kominato, quite a steep climb up Mt. Kiyosumi by car. The bracing air is filled with a sense of austerity and profundity appropriate for a sacred place of training. Even though the elevation is only 383 meters,click small photo to enlarge Mt. Kiyosumi is the second highest mountain in the Boso Peninsula. As its slopes rise directly out of the shoreline, the mountain gives the majestic impression of Mt. Hiei. This is no wonder, as Mt. Kiyosumi was once revered as one of the most sacred mountains for Tendai Shu, and was the grounds for a large temple. The principal deity is Kokuzo Bosatsu, Akasa-garbha-bodhisattva, who performs miracles for good fortune and success.


click small photo to enlargeOn May 12th, 1233, at the age of 12, Nichiren Shonin climbed the mountain accompanied by his father. Here, he studied the esoteric Buddhism of the Tendai Shu. On October 8th, 1239, at the age of 16, he entered the priesthood under the guidance of Dozen-bo, and changed his name to Rencho.


The Shonin once prayed to Akasa-garbha-bodhisattva to make him the wisest man in Japan. On the twenty-first day of prayer, he received a precious jewel from an old monk (actually the personification of Akasa-garbha-bodhisattva) in a dream. From that day forward, he gave himself over to his studies and training, the path that would lead to his finding of the true teachings of the Lotus Sutra.


click small photo to enlargeWhile always keeping Seicho-ji Temple as a base, Nichiren Shonin went on to study at places such as Kamakura, Mt. Hiei, Mii Temple, Nara and Mt. Koya. He studied many things, including esoteric, Jodo, Zen and Ritsu Buddhism, but could not discover the true teaching. He continued to study many scriptures, and finally realized that the only true teachings lay in the Lotus Sutra. The Shonin returned to his mountain, with the intent of correcting the wrongs of the many different sects, and spreading the truth of the Lotus Sutra. After much thought, he made the firm decision to spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra far and wide, and in the early morning of April 28, 1253, at the age of 32, he chanted "Namu Myo-ho Renge Kyo" to the rising sun. This was the Rikkyo Kaishu declaration. At that time, he also changed his name to "Nichiren." The name, based on the Lotus Sutra, represents the brightness of the sun and the moon (Nichi) and the purity of the lotus (Ren).


However, the people's reactions were cold. Lord Kagenobu Tojo, a devout believer in Amitabha Buddhism, was especially enraged, and not only had the Shonin banished from the mountain, but also planned his murder. While in hiding at Renge-ji Temple in Hanabusa, the Shonin made the decision to leave Kiyosumi, his physical and spiritual home, and go to Kamakura. He bid his parents farewell, and headed for the west coast of the peninsula.

Origin

click small photo to enlargeThis historic temple was built in 771A.D. Restored by the priest Jikaku-daishi in the Heian era, it flourished as the Tendai Shu's largest temple in the Boso peninsula. It was converted from a Tendai to Shingon Shu temple after receiving devotions from the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa in the early Edo era, and received a status equal to one hundred thousand goku (a unit used to measure the value of a Daimyo (lord) or Samurai's fiefdom in the feudal era). As a branch temple of Daigo-ji Sanpo-in, Seicho-ji Temple was also ranked first out of three primary monasteries in the Kanto region, and was granted the crest of the chrysanthemum. The temple was converted to Nichiren Shu on February 16, 1949, on the anniversary of the founder's birth.

Present Status

Starting with the Mani-den, the temple's main hall (the statue of the principle deity Akasa-garbha-bodhisattva housed here is one of three in existence in Japan), the temple grounds hold the Dai-soshi-do, a grand hall of the founder, built in 1971 in celebration of the 750th anniversary of the founder's birth, the Kyaku-den built in 1921 in celebration of the 700th anniversary of the click small photo to enlargefounders birth, the Kuri built in 1647, the training hall built in 1999 in celebration of the 750th anniversary of the Rikkyo Kaishu, and the Inner Gate (prefectual cultural property) built in 1646. The large bronze statue of the founder in Asahi-ga-mori, the burial place of Dozen-bo, the government protected cedar and the temple bell (prefectural cultural property) from 1392 are equally important. In addition, a sacred statue of the founder donated by the Lady Oman-no-kata and the founder's ink stone (in a lacquered box) are enshrined in the Dai-soshi-do hall.
The main annual events are the Rikkyo Kaishu-e serviceclick small photo to enlarge on April 27 - 28, the ceremony for entering the priesthood on May 12, the Akasa-garbha-bodhisattva Festival on September 13 and the Oeshiki on October 27-28. The ceremony of granting the docho (presentation of certificate of priesthood) is performed in January, April, July and October, and acts as the first passageway to becoming a minister of Nichiren Shu.

The Nichiren Buddhist International Center, 29490 Mission Blvd. Hayward, California 94544, U.S.A.
Telephone: 510-690-1222 , Fax: 510-690-1221

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