Izu Exile ［伊豆流罪］ ( Izu-ruzai): Banishment of Nichiren by the Kamakura shogunate to Itō in Izu Province, Japan, from the twelfth day of the fifth month, 1261, to the twenty-second day of the second month, 1263. In the eighth month of 1260, a group of Nembutsu believers, infuriated at Nichiren’s criticism of the Pure Land school in On Establishing the Correct Teaching for the Peace of the Land, attacked his dwelling at Matsubagayatsu in Kamakura in an attempt to assassinate him. Nichiren narrowly escaped and fled to Toki Jōnin’s house in Shimōsa Province. When he reappeared in Kamakura in the spring of 1261 and resumed his propagation activities, the shogunate arrested him and, without due investigation, ordered him exiled to Itō on the Izu Peninsula. Later Nichiren wrote, “ [The regent Hōjō] Nagatoki, the lord of Musashi, who was a son of the lay priest of Gokuraku-ji [Hōjō Shigetoki] and aware of his father’s feelings in the matter, quite unreasonably had me exiled to the province of Izu” (Reply to the Nun Myōhō).
The boatmen charged with his transport apparently did not take him to Itō, but abandoned him at a beach called Kawana, where a fisherman named Funamori Yasaburō found him. Yasaburō and his wife secretly fed and sheltered Nichiren for about thirty days, and in the process became his steadfast followers. At that time the steward of the Itō area, Itō Sukemitsu, was seriously ill. Hearing that Nichiren had been exiled to Itō, Sukemitsu summoned him and requested that he pray for his recovery. Nichiren agreed and prayed for him. Itō recovered, and by way of appreciation offered Nichiren the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha he had treasured. About two years after arriving in Izu, Nichiren was pardoned and returned to Kamakura. His writings during this exile include The Four Debts of Gratitude; The Teaching, Capacity, Time, and Country; and What It Means to Slander the Law.