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 Myoho Renge Kyo” to the rising sun. This was the Rikkyo Kaishu declaration, which is observed as the founding of Nichiren Shu. 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, some people’s reactions were cold. Lord Kagenobu Tojo, a devout believer in Amitabha Buddha, was especially enraged. He not only had Nichiren Shonin banished from the mountain, but he also planned his murder. While in hiding at Rengeji Temple in Hanabusa, Nichiren Shonin made the decision to leave Kiyosumi, his physical and spiritual home, and to go to Kamakura. He bid his parents farewell and headed for the west coast of the peninsula.
This historic temple was built in 771 A.D. and was restored by the priest Jikaku Daishi in the Heian era. It flourished as Tendai Shu’s largest temple on the Boso Peninsula. The temple was converted from Tendai to Shingon temple after receiving devotions from the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa in the early Edo era. It attained 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 Daigoji Sanpoin, Seichoji Temple was also ranked first out of the three main monasteries in the Kanto region and was granted the crest of the chrysanthemum, symbol of the Emperor. The temple was converted to Nichiren Shu on February 16, 1949, on the anniversary of Nichiren Shonin’s birth.
The Temple Today
Starting with the Mani-den, the temple’s main hall (the statue of the principle deity Akasagarbha Bodhisattva housed here is one of three in existence in Japan), the temple grounds hold the Daisoshi-do, Grand Hall of the Founder (1971), the Kyaku-den (1921), the Kuri (1647), the Training Hall (1999), and the Inner Gate (1646), which is a prefectual cultural property. The large bronze statue of the founder in Asahi-ga-mori, the burial place of Dozen, the government-protected giant cedar and the temple bell (1392), which is another prefectural cultural property, 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 Grand Hall of the Founder.
The Docho Ceremony (presentation of certificate of novice priesthood), which acts as the first step in becoming a Nichiren Shu priest, is performed each year in January, April, July and October.