The Battle of Kōan Chapter1

The Battle of Kōan Chapter1

YOUR letter of the fourteenth day of this month arrived on the seventeenth day of the same month. And your letter of the fifteenth day of the intercalary seventh month arrived around the twentieth of the same month.

Though I have also received several other letters from you, due not only to ailments of aging but to a persistently poor appetite, I have not yet made a reply. I am deeply ashamed.

I am most concerned about what you have written in your letter of the intercalary seventh month. It reads, “Because a great wind blew in Chinzei and every inlet and isle was littered with wrecked and disabled ships,1 they attribute this to the Honorable Shien2 in Kyoto. Now could there be any truth to this?”

For my followers in particular, this matter is a serious one. Speaking more generally, for the country of Japan it is a disaster. Therefore I will bear up under my illness and try to explain something of this affair. I have long known that for the sole purpose of doing away with me, my opponents have been inventing falsehoods. The reason is that the major offenses of the people of the seven schools and of the eight schools of Japan,3 such as the True Word school, did not begin yesterday. I will present one incident, however, that will illuminate the whole.



Nichiren Daishonin wrote this letter on the twenty-second day of the tenth month in 1281 to Toki Jōnin. The Daishonin first apologizes for not having answered several letters he has received from Toki due to illness and his failing appetite. Then he addresses the question put by Toki in his letter of the intercalary seventh month. Toki had asked about claims that the esoteric prayers of the priest Shien in Kyoto were responsible for the sound routing of Mongol ships from Japanese waters in the Battle of Kōan of the same year. This story, says the Daishonin, is no more than one of many falsehoods calculated to do away with him, and he has long been aware of such attempts by his enemies. Then, in order to clarify his teaching that True Word prayers bring about the ruin of the nation, he describes the events surrounding the Jōkyū Disturbance of 1221. At that time, the imperial court ordered eminent priests to pray for the defeat of Hōjō Yoshitoki, the warrior lord of Kamakura, but in the end the imperial court itself suffered a devastating defeat. Similarly, says the Daishonin, there is no chance that the prayers of the True Word priests now could be responsible, as they have claimed, for damage to the enemy ships. The damage, he notes, came from the autumn winds.


1. On the first day of the intercalary seventh month in the fourth year of the Kōan era (1281), armed Mongol ships, which had come to attack Japan, were wrecked by a great wind.

2. Shien is also known as Eizon, a restorer of the Precepts school in Japan. On the occasions of the Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281, he repeatedly conducted an esoteric prayer ritual to ward off disaster.

3. The seven schools are the Dharma Analysis Treasury, Establishment of Truth, Precepts, Dharma Characteristics, Three Treatises, Flower Garland, and True Word schools. “The eight schools” refers to these seven schools and the Tendai school.

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