Nichimoku ［日目］ (1260–1333): The chief priest of Taiseki-ji temple in Japan who inherited Nichiren’s teachings from Nikkō, Nichiren’s immediate successor. He was born in Hatake in Nitta Village, Tagata District of Izu Province. His father was Niida Gorō Shigetsuna, and his mother, Ren’a-ni, was an elder sister of Nichiren’s follower Nanjō Tokimitsu. His childhood name was Toraō-maru. In 1272 he went to study at a temple called Izu-san, and in 1274 witnessed a religious debate between the Supervisor of Priests Shikibu, the most learned priest of that temple, and Nichiren’s disciple Nikkō. On the spot he resolved to become Nikkō’s disciple. In 1276 he went to Minobu where Nichiren was living.
For the next six years until Nichiren’s death, Nichimoku served him. Whenever Nichiren preached, he was invariably there. He spared no effort in supporting Nichiren, and it is said that he was so diligent in making his several daily trips to fetch water from the mountain stream that his head developed a slight depression from supporting the weight of the water bucket. He also excelled in doctrinal debate. In 1282, when Nichiren went to the residence of Ikegami Munenaka shortly before his death, a learned priest of the Tendai school called the Dharma Seal Ise challenged him to debate. Nichiren appointed Nichimoku to represent him, and the young priest defeated the Tendai scholar. After Nichiren died, Nichimoku supported Nikkō and took part in the rotation system for attending to Nichiren’s tomb. He also devoted himself to propagation in Izu Province and in the Ōshū area in the north, converting many people and building a number of temples. In 1289, when Nikkō left Minobu, Nichimoku worked with Nanjō Tokimitsu and others to help construct their temple. This was the origin of Taiseki-ji. When the Dai-bō (Grand Lodging) was completed in 1290, he privately received the transfer of Nichiren’s teachings from Nikkō and in turn built a lodging temple called Renzō-bō. In 1298 Nikkō, having entrusted Nichimoku with all responsibility for Taiseki-ji, went to live at Omosu and dedicated himself to training disciples. In 1332, one year before his death, Nikkō gave Nichimoku a transfer document titled Matters to Be Observed after Nikkō’s Death, officially appointing him chief priest. In the document, Nikkō charged his successor with the observance of daily prayer for widespread propagation.
On behalf of Nichiren and Nikkō, Nichimoku remonstrated with the Kamakura shogunate and leading warriors, urging them to heed Nichiren’s teachings. In the fifth month of 1333, the shogunate fell and power reverted to the imperial court in Kyoto. Nichimoku resolved to remonstrate with the new authorities and urge them to accept Nichiren’s teachings. In the eleventh month of that year, having transferred the office of chief priest of Taiseki-ji to Nichidō, he set out for Kyoto, accompanied by his disciples Nichizon and Nichigō. It was a cold, grueling journey, and Nichimoku died en route at Tarui in Mino Province. His two disciples went on to Kyoto to submit a letter of remonstration in his stead; Nichizon remained there, and Nichigō returned to Taiseki-ji with Nichimoku’s ashes.