Life and legends of Nichiren
The Ita-Dai-Go-Honzon Issue
On Nichiren’s Gohonzon for Practicing Kanjin
Statues, Drawings, & Paintings of Nichiren
Nippo & Statues of Nichiren

See Also:
Statue at Ikegami Honmonji 1289
Statue at Myohonji in Kamakura 13th-14th Century
Statue at Yuseiji in Kyoto 13th-14th Century
To be Revised
May 25, 2005
Biography of Nippo
Jogyo Shoden-sho
Update 11-18-2005

The Taisekiji story of the origin of their ‘Daigohonzon’ comes from a letter allegedly written by Nichiren in 1282. It is called Jogyo Shoden-sho, Matsunodono Gosho, or Biography of Nippo. It also contains anachronisms.
Here are translated excerpts:
“Nippo wanted to carve a statue of Nichiren. He prayed to Shichimen Daimyojin. Was it a response(kannou) to his prayers? He found a log floating in the river. He used it to engrave the Kaidan-in Honzon. Next, he made statues of Nichiren. Altogether, three statues. One of the statues is just 3 su-n (9 centimeters) tall.’
The Daishou (Buddha, i.e., Nichiren) enscribed the Kaidan-in Honzon(Dai-Go-honzon) and Nippo engraved it. This is the present plank Honzon. That is, it is the Gohonzon that was in the Grand Hall at Minobu.
Because of Nippo’s long and masterful expertise as an artisan, he made one statue of the Daishou 3 su-n (9 cm.) tall….The plank Honzon and statues are now at Fuji…. When Nikko left Minobu, Nippo left with him. To have faith in only Nippo means to have faith in Nichiren”

While neither Nichiren Shoshu nor SGI wishes to promote the Nippo fairy tale in detail, it is, in fact, a primary source authoritative, for their version of the origins of the Nikko-Fuji School. The Gosho is clearly a forgery, since it refers to events that had yet to happen. Also, it mentions worship of Shichimen, and neither the SGI nor NST wish to go there.
However, without this story, Taisekiji can not explain the origin of the camphor wood honzon and small statue of Nichiren. So this calls into question how and when the Yashiro Mandala came to be carved into camphor wood. But that is a separate topic. The Kawabe memo may or may not be a clue. And if it is, I am not so certain what it tells us.
The origins of the various seated altar statues of Nichiren is yet another subject. There really was a Nippo, and he is credited with carving sitting statues of Nichiren, a wooden Great Mandala and founding a major temple. We likely have a reliable source, authored by Nissho, for that. But, of course, it is not available in English.
See Also:
Jogyo Shoden Sho {Excerpts}: Download file Mythical Biography of Nippo
Posted by rbeck at May 25, 2005
Revised 11-18-2005
Mandala Sculpture of Nippo?

Click on the image to enlarge.

Someone came across this link to a wooden mandala carved by Nippo. Mandala Sculpture of Nipposhonin. Wish I could read it. An auto-transalation is fairly useless.
I think it is at a temple here:
Katsuyama Village
Minami Tsuru county
Near Kawaguchi lake town
Fuji Kawaguchiko
Yamanashi Prefecture
That is north of Mt. Fuji?
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Posted by rbeck 2005-12-29 20:27:43