Fuju-fuse

A radical Buddhist subsect in Japan known for its strict adherence to the teachings of Nichiren and its defiance against the shogunate’s authority.


The Fuju-fuse was a subsect of the Buddhist Nichiren sect, established by the Buddhist priest Nichiō. This group was notable for its strict adherence to the teachings of Nichiren and its resistance against the authority of the shogunate in Japan.

Origins and Beliefs

Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism, emphasized the supremacy of religious doctrine over temporal power. He often challenged those in authority, which led to persecution of him and his followers. The Fuju-fuse doctrine, which means “neither receiving nor giving,” was interpreted from Nichiren’s teachings. It suggested that nothing could be received or given to those of other religions, and it was wrong to even sit with a priest of another sect. The Fuju-fuse subsect claimed to be the only group to follow this principle strictly.

Confrontation with Temporal Powers

Throughout its history, the Nichiren sect, and particularly the Fuju-fuse subsect, had numerous clashes with temporal powers. Notable incidents include the torture of priests Nichinin and Nichijitsu in 1398 and the torture of priest Nisshin by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori for not submitting to his authority. In 1608, Nichiren priest Nichikyō refused to obey Tokugawa Ieyasu, leading to severe punishment.

Persecution and Survival

The movement was outlawed in 1669. Most members went underground, some moved to more accommodating branches of the Nichiren sect, and a few lived as outlaws. During the Edo period, many members were arrested, exiled, or executed, along with their families. In one instance in 1668, priest Nikkan and five followers were beheaded, and their families, including women and children, were exiled. By the Tenpō era (1830/44), the subsect was nearly wiped out due to severe repression.

Legalization and Splintering

The sect was finally legalized in 1876 as Nichirenshū Fuju-fuse-ha. However, the pressures of persecution led to a split within the sect. Some members continued to worship overtly, while others pretended to belong to an allowed sect and worshiped in secret. This division led to the formation of two splinter groups: the fudōshiha and the dōshiha. The fudōshiha maintained a distinction between those who risked their lives for their faith and those who hid their beliefs, while the dōshiha did not make such a distinction.