"When you venture to the motherland with the cult org. (tozan pilgrimages of past, or international "leader" meetings of the present), you are isolated in a manufactured bubble, seeing the country & its people through their fake focused filter. I hate to say it, but you are not really even meeting "normal" people. It's a bit like visiting a bizarre version of cult Disneyland, where nothing is as it appears - fake smiles and over feigned hospitality aimed solely at making an over-the-top impression on you. It's everything in overdrive, to the point that even ordinary (non-member) Japanese people find to be creepy and crazy.
Admitting to being a gakkai member outside of the cult org. circles, will be met with initial shock and a reframeing of how you are viewed and even treated. Without exception, you will never get a positive reaction from the outset. They may eventually come around and tolerate it (but I wouldn't go so far as to say "respect" it), depending on what kind of person you are (i.e., not a whacked out zealot type). Others may be outright negative and never view you quite the same again. Most people prefer to just keep away and not have anything to do with any of it, but all basically view it as a cult of Ikeda, not genuine Buddhism, and as a controlling, money grubbing, power hungry, strange and even dangerous "organization." Put another way, it is never viewed in a positive light. This is quite an accomplishment in the homeland where Kosen Rufu is supposed to reside - and speaks volumes.
The $oka Gakkai is viewed as a rich and powerful mind-controlling cult by your average Japanese non-gakkai member citizen." -- Hitch