Nanjō Tokimitsu ［南条時光］ (1259–1332): Also known as Ueno, because he lived in Ueno Village in Fuji District of Suruga Province, Japan, and became the steward of that village. A lay follower of Nichiren and the second son of Nanjō Hyōe Shichirō. His full name was Nanjō Shichirō Jirō Taira no Tokimitsu. He began practicing Nichiren’s teachings quite early in life. In 1265 his father, an official of the Kamakura shogunate, died, and he lost his eldest brother, Shichirō Tarō, in 1274. This forced Tokimitsu to assume the duties of the steward of Ueno while still in his teens. Tokimitsu was an infant when his father met Nichiren and became a follower of his teaching. Upon the elder Nanjō’s death, Nichiren traveled from Kamakura to Ueno Village to offer prayers for his repose. It was then, at age seven, that Tokimitsu is said to have first met Nichiren. In 1274, immediately after Nichiren took up residence at Minobu, Tokimitsu went to see him again. This encounter seems to have deepened his faith in Nichiren’s teachings. In 1275 Nikkō, later Nichiren’s designated successor, visited the grave of the late Nanjō Hyōe Shichirō on Nichiren’s behalf; from that time on, Tokimitsu looked up to Nikkō as his teacher in the practice of Nichiren’s teachings and aided him in propagating them. Propagation proceeded energetically, especially in the Ueno and Atsuhara areas, and many people converted. Tokimitsu offered his residence for use as a center of propagation activities. As the number of converts, which included local priests and farmers, increased under Nikkō’s leadership, official and private opposition increased. During what came to be known as the Atsuhara Persecution, Tokimitsu used his influence to protect other believers, sheltering some in his home. Nichiren honored him for his courage and tireless efforts by calling him “Ueno the Worthy,” though he was only about twenty at the time. In retaliation for Tokimitsu’s support of Nichiren and his followers, the shogunate levied exorbitant taxes upon him. Official pressure continued for several years, and the Nanjō family was forced to live in extreme poverty. Even under these circumstances, and while struggling to raise their nine sons and four daughters, Tokimitsu and his wife, Otozuru (also known as Myōren), consistently made offerings to Nichiren.
When Nichiren died on the thirteenth day of the tenth month, 1282, Tokimitsu attended the funeral ceremony along with such long-time followers as Shijō Kingo, Toki Jōnin, the Ikegami brothers, and Ōta Jōmyō. In 1289 Nikkō left Minobu and went to live at Tokimitsu’s residence in Ueno Village at the latter’s invitation. Tokimitsu donated to him the tract of land called Ōishigahara, on which a temple called Dai-bō was completed on the twelfth day of the tenth month, 1290. This was the origin of Taiseki-ji temple. In his later years, Tokimitsu became a lay priest and assumed the name Daigyō (Great Practice). On the thirteenth day of the eighth month, 1323, his wife died. In the third month of the following year, Tokimitsu built Myōren-ji temple in her honor, naming it after her Buddhist name Myōren (Wonderful Lotus); it is thought that this temple had formerly been Tokimitsu’s residence. Tokimitsu died on the first day of the fifth month, 1332. Nichiren’s extant letters to Tokimitsu number more than thirty, the largest number among those addressed to any of his followers.