Buddhist Studies Forum
Dr. Jacqueline Stone, Princeton University

When the Lotus Went Underground: The Nichiren Buddhist Fuju Fuse Movement and Its Persecution in Early Modern Japan

Japan’s rulers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century sought to break the independent power of Buddhist temples and subsume them within their administrative order. This policy particularly threatened the Nichiren sect, whose teachings placed the Lotus Sūtra above worldly authority. Forced to choose between doctrinal compromise to ensure institutional survival or principled resistance and martyrdom, the sect split, and the hardline fuju fuse (“neither receiving nor giving”) faction was outlawed and driven underground. Their story illuminates a radical shift in religion-state relations at the beginning of Japan’s early modern period.