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Risshō Kōsei Kai (立正佼成会; until June 1960, 大日本立正交成会: Dai-Nippon Risshō Kōsei Kai) is a Japanese Buddhist lay movement founded in 1938 and an offshoot of the Nichiren Buddhist Reiyūkai. Rissho Kosei-kai was established on March 5, 1938, by Nikkyo Niwano and Myoko Naganuma.
Nikkyo Niwano’s initial interest in the Lotus Sutra arose through Sukenobu Arai, a leader in a loosely Nichiren-based religious organization called Reiyukai. In 1934, the Niwanos’ second daughter became ill with Japanese sleeping sickness and sought help from Sukenobu Arai. Nikkyo Niwano soon joined Reiyukai and began following its practice of ancestor veneration. His daughter’s condition quickly improved, which proved to him the merit of Reiyukai. In his autobiography, though, Niwano said what impressed him most was the organization’s emphasis on the Lotus Sutra, one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism.
Niwano and Myoko Naganuma, a fellow Reiyukai member, decided to break away from the organization when its president made a statement that lectures on the Lotus Sutra were an out-of-date concept. This was the birth of Rissho Kosei-kai. The new organization's first headquarters was a room in Niwano’s home. By 1941, membership reached 1,000 and the construction of a separate headquarters began. It was completed in May 1942. During this time Niwano and Naganuma devoted themselves full-time to their religious activities.
Naganuma died on September 10, 1957.
In 1958, Founder Niwano moved Rissho Kosei-kai into a new phase. The group's focus of devotion, which had been varying forms of the o-mandara of Nichiren, was changed. Rissho Kosei-kai's new focus of devotion became "The Great Benevolent Teacher and Lord, Shakyamuni, the Eternal Buddha". A massive statue of this new symbol is enshrined in the group's Great Sacred Hall in Tokyo. A set of scrolls of the Lotus Sutra (with calligraphy by Niwano) are housed inside.
In 1960, Niwano announced that his eldest son, Nichiko (1938–), 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, 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 Nichiko Niwano, by the founder (Nikkyo) and president (Nichiko), and she was appointed president-designate of the organization.
Nikkyo Niwano died on October 4, 1999, at Kosei General Hospital in Tokyo.
Relations with other groups
It is known for hosting the Niwano Peace Prize and it has been a strong advocate for religious pluralism. Its current president, Nichiko Niwano, Nikkyo's eldest son, is on good terms with the leaders of several religions, particularly Christian groups.
Since its founding, Rissho Kosei-kai has sought to cooperate with other religions and work with the United Nations and a variety of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
In 1978, Rissho Kosei-kai established the Niwano Peace Foundation as one of the commemorative undertakings for the 40th anniversary of the organization's founding. Since 1980, the foundation has awarded the Niwano Peace Prize to honor remarkable religious leaders or groups that contribute to world peace through inter-religious dialog, protection of human rights, and conflict resolution. The foundation also provides financial assistance for religiously inspired research activities and projects concerning thought, culture, science, education, and related subjects.
Rissho Kosei Kai is world-renowned in the field of music for its generous support of several leading professional music ensembles, most notably the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. Its facilities are also used to host the world's largest music competition, the All-Japan Band Association national band contest.
Rissho Kosei Kai experienced its most rapid growth before 1950, but the organization is still fairly strong; there are currently 6.5 million members worldwide. According to the Japanese Wikipedia article, it is Japan's second-largest religious organization. It claims some 1.81 million member-households (as of 31 December 2004), 239 churches in Japan, and seven churches and six activity centers outside Japan. Rissho Kosei-kai is not well established in the United States, although there are active churches in New York City, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Hawaii, as well as smaller groups elsewhere.
In the late 1960s, Rissho Kosei-kai began to advocate the Brighter Society Movement, a public-spirited undertaking through which the local churches of Rissho Kosei-kai cooperate with local governments, welfare organizations, and volunteer groups throughout Japan. Since 1974, Rissho Kosei-kai has conducted the Donate a Meal Campaign; the money contributed by its members through the campaign has been accumulated as the Rissho Kosei-kai Peace Fund and is utilized for its wide variety of activities for world peace.
Detractors have alleged that it is too strongly linked to Japan's Liberal Democratic Party and that it supported Japanese militarist elements in World War II. This charge is dubious at best, since Rissho Kosei-kai suffered severe religious restrictions under the Japanese regime in power during that conflict. There is also criticism, specifically Buddhist in nature, concerning its practice of fortune telling and ancestor worship. Members memorialize their ancestors (their names are kept in a death register, or a kakocho, which is kept on their home altars), but this practice is extremely common among Japanese Buddhists of many sects. Critics also see the massive estate left by Niwano as a sign of un-Buddhist materialism.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rissho Kosei-kai|
- Official Rissho Kosei Kai Website
- Catholic news site from Asia on Niwano Prize
- Nikkyo Niwano obituary
- Rissho Kosei-kai International of North America
- Rishho Kosei Kai in Hawaii
- RKK in LA
- RKK Center of Oklahoma
- Rissho Kosei-kai of the UKko:입정교성회