An amenable arrangement: The unification of the nichiren sect in sixteenth-century Kyoto

Dan Sherer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, I argue that the Nichiren sect in Kyoto was able to recover from its near destruction in 1536 and maintain its position in the capital through the violent sixteenth century by unifying its disparate and contentious lineages under a new governing body, the Council of Head Temples. Unknown until the discovery of its documents in 1982, the council allowed the sect, as a unit, to negotiate with warrior power. The council was the culmination of pro-unity forces in the sect, especially those who succeeded in convincing the two sides to stop fighting each other over the sect’s greatest doctrinal dispute. Previous scholarship has treated the Nichiren sect in the late sixteenth century as being at the mercy of powerful warriors. This article shows that the monks of the Nichiren sect were able to muster considerable resources and not only negotiate better treatment from the warriors but even drive warrior policy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)73-102
Number of pages30
JournalJapanese Journal of Religious Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* The research for this article was made possible by a generous grant from the Japan Foundation. The author would also like to thank Takahashi Toshiko, Kawauchi Masayoshi, Furukawa Motoya, Amano Tadayuki, and Kanda Chisato for their help with the research, and Joan Piggott and Jan Goodwin for their input on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.


  • Council of Head Temples
  • Enroku Treaty
  • Kyoto
  • Nichiren
  • Sixteenth century


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