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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Nichiren and the legend of the white dog

"Hi! I've translated the story about the Jotakuji temple and the seeds. 

Jotakuji is famed as a ginkgo temple. It's located about 5.5miles north east from Minobusan. It was originally an ashram for Shingon (esoteric Buddhism) sect. 

On the 17th of May in 1274, Nichiren Shonin took up a challenge on discussion on the teachings of Buddhism with a powerful Shingon priest named Echo. Echo was defeated, and therefore on the surface, he surrendered to Nichiren Shonin, however, he had a grudge against Nichiren shonin at heart and at Jotakuji temple, he conspired together with the head priest of Jotakuji, to kill Nichiren Shonin by offering poisoned rice cakes. A white dog appeared from nowhere and Nichiren Shonin kindly fed some of the rice cakes to the white dog. As soon as the white dog had the rice cake, it collapsed in agony. Echo and the chief priest saw what happened and they realized the greatness of Nichiren Shonin and the Lotus Flower Sutra and they confessed and apologised for their wicked heart and they also asked to become disciples of Nichiren Shonin again. Nichiren Shonin gave the white dog antidote and it lived for 10 years. The head priest realized this white dog was an incarnation of Buddhist god and it protected Nichiren Shonin, and when it died, the head priest buried it with great care. Nichiren Shonin put his stick made of ginkgo tree, on the mound as a grave marker. The stick started taking root again and the tree has become a big tree as we can see today.

Interestinglly, the seeds of this Ginkgo tree are born on the surface of the leaves. The seeds are fang-shaped. The Ginkgo tree is well-known as spiritted Ginkgo, which is very unique not only in Japan but also outside of Japan." -- Mikuriya Miho

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