History of Rissho Kosei-kai

Rissho Kosei-kai was established on March 5, 1938 by the late Nikkyo Niwano and Myoko Naganuma. Nikkyo Niwano’s initial interest in the Lotus Sutra arose through Sukenobu Arai, a leader in a religious organization called Reiyukai. In 1934, the Niwanos’ second daughter became ill with Japanese sleeping sickness and seeked help from Sukenobu Arai. Nikkyo Niwano soon joined Reiyukai and began following its practice of ancestor veneration. Quickly, his daughter’s condition improved, which proved the merit of Reiyukai, but what impressed him the most was the organization’s emphasis on the Lotus Sutra, one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism.

The Lotus Sutra, revered by Buddhists as the core and culmination of the Buddha’s teachings, appealed to him as the perfect way in which to save people both physically and spiritually. Two of its teachings suited his innermost feelings exactly: the way of compassion of the bodhisattva (helping others and serving all people in the world) and the ability of the lay believer both to save and be saved. His conviction was so strong that he changed to an occupation (neighborhood milk dealer’s shop) that would give him enough free time and opportunity to meet many people. This is where he was able to meet Myoko Naganuma, which at that time was suffering from a variety of illnesses. Soon after she began receiving religious guidance from Nikkyo Niwano, her ailments disappeared, confirming the effectiveness of the Reiyukai teachings. She became so enthusiastic that she vigorously began conveying the teachings to others.

Nikkyo Niwano and Myoko Naganuma decided to break away from Reiyukai when its president made a statement that the lectures on the Lotus Sutra were an out-of-date concept. This was the birth of Rissho Kosei-kai, where its initial headquarters was a room in Niwano’s home. By 1941, membership reached one thousand and the construction of a separate headquarters began. It was completed in May 1942. During this time Founder Niwano and Cofounder Naganuma devoted themselves full-time to their religious activities.

Reverend Naganuma devoted all her remaining years disseminating the Lotus Sutra. She worked tirelessly providing guidance to members until September 10, 1957, when she passed away.

In 1958, Founder Niwano moved actively into a new phase of Rissho Kosei-kai. The first step was the affirmation of the focus of devotion, the Great Benevolent Teacher and Lord, Shakyamuni, the Eternal Buddha. Another important step taken, was educating the members by guiding them to study the Lotus Sutra and to apply its teachings in practical ways in their daily lives.
In 1960, Founder Niwano announced that his eldest son, Nichiko, would succeed him as president.

Four years later, in 1964, the Great Sacred Hall was completed as part of the headquarters complex in Tokyo.

On November 15, 1991, Reverend Nichiko Niwano, became the second president of Rissho Kosei-kai.

On November 17, 1994, the holy name of Kosho was given to Mitsuyo Niwano, the eldest daughter of President Niwano, by the founder and the president. And she appointed president-designate of the organization. Founder Niwano passed away on October 4, 1999 at Kosei General Hospital.

Currently, Rissho Kosei-kai has some 6.5 million members in 245 branches throughout Japan as well as in other countries.






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