Nikkō (1) ［日興］ (1246–1333): Nichiren’s successor, also known as Hōki-kō or Hōki-bō. The founder of Taiseki-ji temple at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan. He was born at Kajikazawa in Koma District of Kai Province. His father’s name was Ōi no Kitsuroku, and his mother belonged to the Yui family in Fuji. His father died while he was a child, and his mother married into another family, so his maternal grandfather raised him. In his boyhood, he entered Shijūku-in, a temple of the Tendai school, in Suruga Province. There, in addition to the Tendai doctrine, he studied Chinese classics, Japanese literature, poetry, calligraphy, and other subjects. Later he met Nichiren and became his disciple. After Nichiren submitted his On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land to the head of the Hōjō clan, the Nembutsu believers persecuted him. Among them was Hōjō Shigetoki, a powerful man in the shogunate, and in 1261 his son, the regent Hōjō Nagatoki, sent Nichiren into exile in Izu. During his exile, Nikkō went to visit and served him. Again in 1271 Nikkō accompanied Nichiren in his exile to Sado Island. In 1274 Nichiren was released from the exile and in Kamakura remonstrated with Hei no Saemon, the deputy chief of the Office of Military and Police Affairs (the chief being the regent himself).
Because all of his remonstrations with the rulers went unheeded, Nichiren decided to leave Kamakura. At that time Nikkō arranged with one of his converts, Hakiri Sanenaga, for Nichiren to live in the Minobu area where Sanenaga was steward. Nikkō led a great propagation effort in Kai, Suruga, and Izu, which spread to other provinces. Because of his propagation activities in the Suruga area, priests at Shijūku-in and Ryūsen-ji, a Tendai temple in Atsuhara, converted to Nichiren’s teachings. As the number of converts increased, so did the pressure on Nichiren’s followers. First, in 1278 Nikkō and other priests such as Nichiji and Shōken were expelled from Shijūku-in. Nikkō submitted a joint petition to the shogunate, asking for an open debate with Gon’yo, the temple’s secretary. At Ryūsen-ji temple, the deputy chief priest Gyōchi expelled the priests Nikkō had converted, including Nisshū, Nichiben, and Nichizen, and harassed their lay converts, most of them farmers. Eventually, on the twenty-first day of the ninth month, 1279, twenty of these farmers were arrested on false charges and sent to Kamakura. Nikkō immediately arranged for a document of vindication, which Nichiren drafted with Toki Jōnin, and had Nisshū and Nichiben copy and submit it to the shogunate under joint signature. Three of the arrested believers were beheaded, and the others were banished from Atsuhara. This incident is known as the Atsuhara Persecution.
In 1282 Nichiren, aware of his approaching death, left Minobu and went to Ikegami in Musashi Province where he died, surrounded by many disciples, on the thirteenth day of the tenth month. After Nichiren’s funeral, Nikkō brought his ashes to Minobu and placed them in a tomb. On the hundredth day after Nichiren’s death, he held a memorial service. At that time eighteen priests—the six senior priests and twelve of their disciples—assumed the responsibility of attending to the tomb in rotation, one of the six senior priests or two of his disciples watching over it each month.
The five senior priests other than Nikkō then left for their respective areas. None of them, however, returned to fulfill their commitment to attend to Nichiren’s tomb. Under pressure from the authorities, they gradually began to disassociate themselves from Nichiren’s teachings and worshiped images of Shakyamuni Buddha, declaring themselves to be priests of the Tendai school. Nikō, one of the six senior priests, returned to Minobu around 1285, and Nikkō appointed him the chief instructor of priests. Under Nikō’s influence, however, Hakiri Sanenaga, the steward of the area and one of Nichiren’s followers, commissioned a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, made pilgrimages to Shinto shrines, contributed to the erecting of a tower of the Pure Land (Jōdo) school, and even had a Pure Land temple built. Nikkō repeatedly warned them that such acts flagrantly contradicted Nichiren’s teachings, but to no avail. Convinced that Minobu would not be the place to preserve Nichiren’s teachings, Nikkō left in the spring of 1289, taking Nichiren’s ashes and other treasures with him. He stayed for awhile at the home of his maternal grandfather in Kawai of Fuji District, but soon moved to Nanjō Tokimitsu’s estate at the latter’s invitation. In 1290 Nikkō built a temple called Dai-bō (Grand Lodging) on a tract of land donated by Tokimitsu. His disciples also established their lodging temples surrounding Dai-bō. This was the origin of Taiseki-ji. Nikkō concentrated all his efforts on promoting Nichiren’s teachings, educating disciples, and collecting and transcribing Nichiren’s writings, which he called the Gosho, or honorable writings.
In 1298 Nikkō established a seminary at nearby Omosu, moved there, and devoted himself to training his disciples. Nichimoku, Nikke, Nisshū, Nichizen, Nissen, and Nichijō are known as his six elder disciples. At this point, Nichimoku functionally became the chief priest of Taiseki-ji. Nikkō also designated six new disciples (Nichidai, Nitchō, Nichidō, Nichimyō, Nichigō, and Nichijo), whom he charged with the task of propagation after his death. In the eleventh month of 1332, Nikkō officially appointed Nichimoku as his successor and wrote Matters to Be Observed after Nikkō’s Death. Shortly before his death, he left The Twenty-six Admonitions of Nikkō as a warning to believers in general and priests in particular to preserve and uphold Nichiren’s teachings correctly.
(2) ［日光］ (): The bodhisattva Sunlight (Nikkō-bosatsu). One of the two bodhisattvas who attend Medicine Master Buddha, the other being Gakkō (Moonlight). See Sunlight.