Updated 06-15-2006
Mandala # 026 dated October 1275 (Kenji 1). Early Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, formal style. Kept at Niizo Myoukenji.


Kyoto Myokenji, which was authorized as a Prayer Temple by Emperor Godaigo in 1334, is also home to at least five {5} original Nichiren Mandala Gohonzons(s). The Temple is historically related to the Nichiro lineage and Ikegami Honmon-ji.
Statues, Drawings, & Paintings of Nichiren

PhotobucketThis is another of several nearly identical portraits painted in the 16th & 17th Centuries. This one is kept at Myokenji Temple in Kyoto. It appears be part of a set that includes portraits of Chih-I T’ien T’ai and Saicho, aka Dengyo Daishi. IIRC, the portraits were painted in the late 1600′s.
The founder of this Temple was Nichizo (1269-1342), who was Nichiro’s half-brother. It is said that Nichiren, on his deathbed at Ikegami, commissioned Nichizo with the task of converting the emperor in Kyoto. I am curious if this is an oral legend, actually recorded in the authenticated Shuso Gosenge Kiroku, or, perhaps, from the apocryphal transmission ‘dox’ kept at Ikegami?
Ryuei on Nichizo & Myokenji:
In 1333, Myokenji Temple joined in the prayers for Emperor Godaigo’s success. Fortunately for Nichizo, the emperor was successful and the Kamakuran Shogunate fell in 1333. In 1334, the emperor recognized Myokenji Temple as an Imperial Prayer Temple. In this way, Nichiren Buddhism was finally given official recognition. Nichizo’s lineage would later be known as the Shijo Lineage due to the location of Myokenji Temple in Kyoto. The Myokenji Temple was burned down by Tendai sohei (soldier-monks) from Mt. Hiei in 1387. It was rebuilt in 1398 and renamed Myohonji. It took the name Myokenji again in 1519.” — The Mission to Kyoto by Ryuei Michael McCormick
Nichiren’s Gohonzon for Practicing Kanjin
Kyoto Myokenji is also home to at least five {5} original Mandala Gohonzons(s). These are:
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Mandala # 019 dated January {and 1275 is inferred.} Early Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, [nearly] formal style.
Mandala # 027 dated November 1275 (Kenji 1). Early Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, formal style.
Mandala # 028 dated December 1275 (Kenji 1). Early Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, abbreviated style.
Mandala # 067 dated October 1279 (Koan 2). Mandala Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, formal style.
Mandala # 084 Mandala Gohonzon inscribed by Nichiren, formal style.
The Painting
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It is similar in several respects to the Joeiji 16th C. Portrait . As one can see, in the portrait, Nichiren has an open, but not extended scroll in his left hand; and something else in his right. The table, in front of him, holding the scrolls, is covered with a brightly colored cloth. The flower vase on the table appears to hold a kind of Lotus called Uptala. His robe is brown with a brightly colored shawl{?} that matches the cloth on the table.
Here are some useful links:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Myokenji Temple
Myôkenji, the First Nichiren Temple
Hotoji Temple (Shichimen-san)
Nichiren: Kamakura Yakuoji
Daijozan Yakuoji
Daijozan Yakuoji