thumb | Nichiren Daishonin Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren . Various forms of Nichiren Buddhism have had great influence among certain sections of Japanese society at different times in the country's history, such as among the merchants of Kyoto in Japan's Middle Ages and among some ultranationalists during the pre-World War II era. Nichiren Buddhism is generally noted for its focus on the Lotus Sutra and an attendant belief that all people have an innate Buddha nature and are therefore inherently capable of attaining enlightenment in their current form and present lifetime. It is also noted for positioning itself in opposition to other forms of Japanese Buddhism—in particular the Zen, Pure Land, esoteric, Shingon, and Ritsu schools, which Nichiren saw as deviating from the orthodoxy of Mahayana Buddhism. Nichiren Buddhism is a comprehensive term covering several major schools and many sub-schools, as well as several of Japan's new religions. Nichiren Buddhists believe that the spread of Nichiren's teachings and their effect on practitioners' lives will eventually bring about a peaceful, just, and prosperous society.
From the age of 16 until 32, Nichiren studied in numerous temples in Japan, especially Mt. Hiei and Mt. Kōya, in his day the major centers of Buddhist study, in the Kyoto–Nara area. He eventually concluded that the highest teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha were to be found in the Lotus Sutra. The mantra he expounded on 28 April 1253, Namu-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō, expresses his devotion to that body of teachings. During his lifetime Nichiren stridently maintained that the contemporary teachings of Buddhism taught by other sects were mistaken in their interpretations of the correct path to enlightenment and therefore refuted them publicly and vociferously. In doing so, he provoked the ire of the country's rulers and of the priests of the sects he criticized; he was subjected to persecution which included an attempted beheading and at least two exiles. Some Nichiren schools see the incident of the attempted beheading as marking a turning point in Nichiren's teaching, since Nichiren began inscribing the Gohonzon and wrote a number of major doctrinal treatises during his subsequent three-year exile on Sado Island in the Japan Sea. After a pardon and his return from exile, Nichiren moved to Mt. Minobu in today's Yamanashi Prefecture, where he and his disciples built a temple, Kuon-ji. Nichiren spent most of the rest of his life here training disciples.
Today, Nichiren Buddhism is not a single denomination . It began to branch into different schools within several years of Nichiren's passing, before which Nichiren had named six senior priests whom he wanted to transmit his teachings to future generations: Nisshō , Nichirō , Nikō , Nitchō , Nichiji , and Nikkō . Each started a lineage of schools, but Nichiji eventually travelled to the Asian continent and was never heard from again, and Nitchō later in life rejoined and became a follower of Nikkō.
Wikipedia, Nichiren Buddhism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichiren_Buddhism (as of Apr 7, 2011)