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Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

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Nichiren Buddhists, Kokuchūkai (Japan)


Miyazawa Kenji’s Ginga tetsudō no yoru is a children’s story that explores what heaven is like with very visible Christian themes and images, but the logic and vision underneath is more Buddhist than Christian. In Kenji’s prose masterpiece, the author ultimately subsumed Christianity and science into a greater spiritual cosmic vision—Nichiren’s all-encompassing principle of three-thousand-realms-in-a-single-thought (ichinen sanzen). Among the possible interpretations of Ginga tetsudō no yoru, one must consider that it is an expression of the author’s Nichiren Buddhist beliefs, which he long held and explicitly articulated elsewhere in other works and correspondence. Reframing both the scholarship on Kenji’s ties to the prominent prewar Nichiren organization, the Kokuchūkai, and the research on Kenji’s close friendship with Hosaka Kanai, I demonstrate how the salvation that the protagonist Giovanni finds in the story is shaped by the teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.


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