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Ikkō-shū(一向宗) or "single-minded school" [1] is usually viewed as a small, militant, offshoot from Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism though the name has a complex history.

Jōdo Shinshū, also known as Shin Buddhism or True Pure Land Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran. Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan.

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.


Originally Ikkō-shū was an "obscure band of Pure Land proponents" founded by Ikkō Shunjō in the fifteenth century. He was a disciple of Ryōchū of the Chinzei branch of Jōdo-shū Buddhism) and similar to Ippen's Ji-shū. However, when the religious and military-political establishment began to crack down on the Nembutsu, little distinction was made between the various factions. Most of Ikkō Shunjo's followers therefore defected to the more powerful Jōdo Shinshū and the name Ikkō-shū ultimately became synonymous with Jōdo Shinshū. [1] :110-111

The Chinzei-ha (鎮西派) branch of Jōdo-shū Buddhism is the main branch that exists today, and was first established by [[Benchō],] a disciple of Hōnen, but formalized into a separate branch by Benchō's disciple Ryōchū.

Jōdo-shū branch of Buddhism in Japan

Jōdo-shū, also known as Jōdo Buddhism, is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monk Hōnen. It was established in 1175 and is the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, along with Jōdo Shinshū.

Ippen Japanese Buddhist monk, founder of the Jishu school.

Ippen Shōnin was a Japanese Buddhist itinerant preacher (hijiri) who founded the Ji-shū branch of Pure Land Buddhism.

Rennyo, the charismatic leader of the Hongan-ji branch of Jōdo Shinshū responded to this situation by clarifying the positive religious meaning of 'Ikkō' (single-minded) whilst simultaneously distancing himself from the antinomian behaviour of the original Ikkō sect. In his pastoral letters, known as Ofumi or Gobunsho, he therefore wrote; "It has been established with certainty that our Founder did not particularly name our school the "Ikkō-shū". On the whole, the reason the people call us this is that we place our complete reliance, exclusively, on Amida Buddha ...'However, the Founder has specifically named this sect "Jōdo Shinshū". Therefore, you must understand that we of our sect did not originate in any manner or form the name of "One-Mind Sect."


Rennyo was the 8th Monshu, or head-priest, of the Hongan-ji Temple of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, and descendant of founder Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists often referred to as the restorer of the sect. He was also known as Shinshō-in (信証院), and posthumously Etō Daishi (慧灯大師). During the conflict of the Ōnin War and the subsequent warfare that spread throughout Japan, Rennyo was able to unite most of the disparate factions of the Jodo Shinshu sect under the Hongan-ji, reform existing liturgy and practices, and broaden support among different classes of society. Through Rennyo's efforts, Jodo Shinshu grew to become the largest, most influential Buddhist sect in Japan.

Hongan-ji collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism

Hongan-ji, also archaically romanized as Hongwanji, is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism. 'Hongan-ji' may also refer to any one of several actual temple buildings associated with the sect.

Antinomianism is any view which rejects laws or legalism and is against moral, religious or social norms, or is at least considered to do so. The term has both religious and secular meanings.

Ikkō-ikki revolts

The Amida pietist movement, and in particular the Jōdo Shinshū, also provided a liberation theology (or ideology) for a wave of uprisings against the feudal system in late-fifteenth and sixteenth century Japan which are known as the Ikkō-ikki revolts. The causes of this phenomenon are disputed, but may have had both religious and socio-political causes.

Liberation theology is a synthesis of Christian theology and Marxist socio-economic analyses that emphasizes social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples. In the 1950s and the 1960s, liberation theology was the political praxis of Latin American theologians, such as Gustavo Gutiérrez of Peru, Leonardo Boff of Brazil, Juan Luis Segundo of Uruguay, and Jon Sobrino of Spain, who popularized the phrase "Preferential option for the poor".

An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons. In other words, these rely on basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. The term is especially used to describe systems of ideas and ideals which form the basis of economic or political theories and resultant policies. In these there are tenuous causal links between policies and outcomes owing to the large numbers of variables available, so that many key assumptions have to be made. In political science the term is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems

Ikkō-ikki were rebellious or autonomous groups of people that were formed in several regions of Japan in 15th-16th centuries; backed up by the power of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, they opposed the rule of governors or daimyō. Mainly consisting of priests, peasants, merchants and local lords who followed the sect, they sometimes associated with non-followers of the sect. They were at first organized to only a small degree; if any single person could be said to have had any influence over them it was Rennyo, the leader of the Jōdo Shinshū Hongan-ji sect at that time. Rennyo's attitude to the Ikkō-ikki was, however, highly ambivalent and pragmatic. Whilst he may have used the religious fervour of the Ikkō-ikki in the defence of his temple settlements, he was also careful to distance himself from the wider social rebellion of the Ikkō movement as a whole, and from offensive violence in particular.

As a consequence of the Ikkō-ikki revolts and the growing power of the Jōdo Shinshū, the sect's fortress-temples Ishiyama Hongan-ji and Nagashima (built at the end of the 15th century) were eventually destroyed by Oda Nobunaga's armies. The fortress at Nagashima was razed to the ground in 1574, taking about 20,000 people with it. The Ishiyama Hongan-ji withstood the longest siege in Japanese history, before surrendering in 1580. Upon its ruins, Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Osaka Castle, a replica of which stands on the site today. Following the destruction of Nagashima, Nobunaga ordered his men to search all of Echizen Province and kill every last man and woman of the so-called Ikko sect. Other Ikkō-shū Buddhists went underground, forming the kakure nenbutsu .

Ishiyama Hongan-ji historical Buddhist temple located in Osaka, Japan

The Ishiyama Hongan-ji (石山本願寺) was the primary fortress of the Ikkō-ikki, leagues of warrior monks and commoners who opposed samurai rule during the Sengoku period. It was established in 1496, at the mouth of the Yodo River, on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. At the time, this was just outside the remains of the ancient capital of Naniwa, in Settsu Province. In fact, recent archaeological research has determined that the temple was established atop the ruins of the old imperial palace. The city has since grown around the site, incorporating the Ishiyama.

Nagashima (長島) was a series of fortresses and fortifications controlled by the Ikkō-ikki, a sect of warrior monks in Japan's Sengoku period who opposed samurai rule. It was attacked and destroyed by Oda Nobunaga in the 1570s. This, combined with the surrender of the Ikki's other main fortress, Ishiyama Hongan-ji, several years later, ended the threat the Ikko-ikki posed to Nobunaga and other samurai conquerors.

Oda Nobunaga samurai daimyo and warlord of Japan

Oda Nobunaga was a powerful daimyō of Japan in the late 16th century who attempted to unify Japan during the late Sengoku period, and successfully gained control over most of Honshu. Nobunaga is regarded as one of three unifiers of Japan along with his retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During his later life, Nobunaga was widely known for most brutal suppression of determined opponents, eliminating those who by principle refused to cooperate or yield to his demands. His reign was noted for innovative military tactics, fostering free trade, and encouraging the start of the Momoyama historical art period. He was killed when his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide rebelled against him at Honnō-ji.

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The Sieges of Nagashima, taking place in 1571, 1573 and 1574, were part of Oda Nobunaga's campaigns against the Ikkō-ikki, arguably among his greatest enemies. Nagashima, in Owari Province along Japan's Pacific coast, was the location of a string of river island fortresses and defensive works controlled by the Ikkō-ikki, which surrounded their Ganshō-ji monastery and which included Nagashima Castle, which they had captured previously. Oda Nobunaga attacked three times over the course of four years, before finally destroying the entire Nagashima complex. These sieges were executed concurrently with Nobunaga's eleven-year siege against the Ikki's primary fortress of Ishiyama Hongan-ji.

Sōhei Buddhist warrior monks of both medieval and feudal Japan

Sōhei were Buddhist warrior monks of both medieval and feudal Japan. At certain points in history, they held considerable power, obliging the imperial and military governments to collaborate.

The Ishiyama Hongan-ji War, taking place from 1570 to 1580 in Sengoku period Japan, was a ten-year campaign by lord Oda Nobunaga against a network of fortifications, temples, and communities belonging to the Ikkō-ikki, a powerful faction of religious zealots. It centered on attempts to take down the Ikki's central base, the cathedral fortress of Ishiyama Hongan-ji, in what is today the city of Osaka. While Nobunaga and his allies led attacks on Ikki communities and fortifications in the nearby provinces, weakening the Hongan-ji's support structure, elements of his army remained camped outside the Hongan-ji, blocking supplies to the fortress and serving as scouts.

Yoshizaki-gobō Buddhist temple in Fukui Prefecture, Japan

Yoshizaki-gobō (吉崎御坊) was a temple in what is the Yoshizaki neighbourhood of the city of Awara, Fukui, Japan. It is known for its connection to Rennyo, the founder of the Ikkō sect of Japanese Buddhism. The site is a National Historic Site.

Kōsa Japanese warrior monk

Kōsa, also known as Hongan-ji Kennyo, was the 11th head of the Hongan-ji in Kyoto, and Chief Abbot of Ishiyama Hongan-ji, cathedral fortress of the Ikkō-ikki, during its siege at the end of the Sengoku period. He engineered many alliances, and organized the defenses of the cathedral to the point that most at the time considered Ishiyama Hongan-ji to be unbreachable.

The Negoro-shū (根来衆) were an order of warrior monks based in Negoro-ji temple, in Japan's Kii Province. They were famous for their skill with firearms, as well as with more traditional monk weapons like the naginata. Negoro-ji, along with many other warrior monasteries, came under siege at the end of the 16th century; in 1585, the temple was burned to the ground by the forces of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The 1576 Siege of Mitsuji was part of the eleven-year Ishiyama Hongan-ji War. The Ikkō-ikki, a group of warrior monks and peasants, controlled the fortress and stood as one of the primary obstacles to Oda Nobunaga's bid for power.

The Saika ikki or Saiga Ikki (雑賀一揆), based in Ōta in the Kii Province of Honshū, were one of many ikkō-ikki mercenary groups in feudal Japan led by Suzuki Magoichi, better known as Saika Magoichi. Saika-ikki was formed by several peasant and noble people. Their unnamed men and women informants were said to have been called "Magoichi" by their clients. In particular, the members of the Saika ikki, along with the monks of the Negoro-ji, were renowned for their expertise with the arquebus and for their expert gunsmiths and foundries. Both of these groups came to the aid of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji, the central fortress-cathedral of the ikkō-ikki that was besieged by Oda Nobunaga from 1570-80. The town motto is translated to English as "stand strong and do not forget".

Nishi Hongan-ji Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Head temple of Honganji-ha school

Nishi Hongan-ji (西本願寺) is a Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist temple in the Shimogyō ward of Kyoto, Japan.

Yamashina Mido historical Buddhist temple located in Yamashina, Kyoto, Japan

Yamashina Mido, also known as Yamashina Hongan-ji (山科本願寺), was a Buddhist temple in Kyoto which was used as a fortress by the Ikkō-ikki, an organization of warrior monks and lay zealots who opposed samurai rule.

Kakure nenbutsu (隠れ念仏), or "hidden Amida Buddhism", was a form of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism secretly practiced on the Japanese island of Kyushu, in the Hitoyoshi Domain and Satsuma Domain, during a period of religious persecution from 1555 to the declaration of freedom of religion during the Meiji Restoration. Because it became a secret lineage, some kakure nenbutsu lineages continued into the mid-20th century.

Kaga Rebellion Rebellion by the Ikkō-ikki in Kaga Province (late 1487-1488 CE)

The Kaga Rebellion or Chōkyō Uprising was a large-scale revolt in Kaga Province, Japan, in late 1487 through 1488. Togashi Masachika, who ruled Kaga Province as shugo, had been restored to power in 1473 with aid from the Asakura clan as well as the Ikkō-ikki, a loose collection of lesser nobility, monks, and farmers. By 1474, however, the Ikkō-ikki grew discontent with Masachika, and launched some initial revolts, which were easily quelled. In 1487, when Masachika left on a military campaign, between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand Ikkō-ikki revolted. Masachika returned with his army, but the Ikkō-ikki, backed by several disaffected vassal families, overwhelmed his army and surrounded him in his palace, where he committed seppuku. The former vassals of Masachika granted the position of shugo to Masachika's uncle Yasutaka, but over the next several decades, the Ikkō-ikki increased their political hold on the province, which they would effectively control for almost a century.

Kaga <i>ikki</i> Rebellious break-away Japanese state during the late Muromachi period

The Kaga ikki, also known as The Peasants' Kingdom, was a theocratic feudal confederacy that emerged in Kaga Province, Japan, during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The Kaga ikki was a faction of the Ikkō-ikki, mobs of peasant farmers, monks, priests, and jizamurai that espoused belief in Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism. Though nominally under the authority of the head abbot of the Hongan-ji, the Monshu, the ikkō-ikki proved difficult to control.

Torigoe Castle

Torigoe Castle was a Sengoku period yamashiro-style Japanese castle located in the Torigoe area of what is now part of the city of Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture in the Hokuriku region of Honshu, Japan. It is protected by the central government as a National Historic Site. The site consists of the ruins of two castles, Torigoe Castle and Futoge Castle. The two castles were built on two mountaintops with the Dainichi River between them in 1573 as the final bastions for the Kaga Ikkō-Ikki movement.


  1. 1 2 James C. Dobbins, James (2002). Jodo Shinshu. University of Hawai'i Press. p. 20. ISBN   0824826205.

Further reading

Sir George Bailey Sansom was a British diplomat and historian of pre-modern Japan, particularly noted for his historical surveys and his attention to Japanese society and culture.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

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