• Kyodo


Two letters preserved at a historic temple in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, are confirmed to have been written by Nichiren — the 13th century founder of the major Buddhist sect named after him.

The letters, found at Myohoji Temple, have been authenticated by Takashi Nakao, professor of Buddhist history at Rissho University, and will be displayed at the temple Saturday and Sunday.

Fragments of both letters were pasted on a hanging scroll and have been preserved in this form.

One letter calls on the faithful “to join their hearts at a time when death visits so many in the nation.” According to Nakao, the epistle was penned by Nichiren around 1270, two years before the Mongols attempted their second invasion of Japan.

The other letter is probably an expression of thanks for a donation, Nakao said.

On the back of the hanging scroll is a signature belonging to the 12th abbot of Nakayama Hokkekyo Temple in what is now Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, testifying to the authenticity of the documents. Nakayama is known for its collection of Nichiren writings.

Nakao said the brush strokes and peculiar characteristics of the brush used to write the letters, as well as the quality of the paper left him no doubt that the letters were written by Nichiren, who is considered a saint among his followers.

The Nichiren sect has exercised influence both inside and outside Japan through Soka Gakkai, a major lay Buddhist organization with affiliates overseas and the main backer of New Komeito.

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