The Shinshu sect Otani-ha (真宗大谷派)

The Shinshu sect Otani-ha is one of the groups of Jodo Shinshu sect. The head temple is Higashi-Hongwan-ji Temple, at Rokujo Karasuma in Kyoto. The number of branch temples is 9,804. In order to distinguish it from the Jodo Shinshu sect Hongwan-ji-ha (commonly called 'Onishi-san,' 'Hompa' or 'Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple'), it is called 'Ohigashi-san,' 'O-ha' 'Tani-ha' and so on. Shin-shu Honbyo, the head temple, is commonly called 'Higashi-Hongwan-ji Temple' after the split of the east and west for the same reason.


This summary extracts and cites the "Religious Corporation 'Shinshu Sect Otani-ha' Rules," which are made public based on the Religious Corporation Act, and the "Shinshu Sect Otani-ha Shuken (Constitution of Sect, 宗憲) ("Shuken" in the following), which is defined as the supreme rule in its Article 3.

Core elements of management

The core principles of sect management are as follows:
(Source: the preceding sentence on Shuken)

Continuous practice of the Doho society (同朋社会)
All people who believe in the sect make efforts to review the teachings of the Jodo Shinshu sect, by each person constantly, and confirm it with others, and continuously practice the social life toward attainment of the Buddhist paradise of Amitabha Buddha.

Combination of the sect and the mausoleum
The Shin-shu Honbyo (mausoleum) in which a picture of the sect's founder Shinran is placed, is an important place for all followers of the sect to confirm the teachings on which they depend, so that all followers of the sect have to revere and guard this, being combined equally with the doctrine.

Open discussion by Doho
The management of the sect is based on open discussions by all Doho (followers) without permitting anyone's tyranny.

The supreme law

Shuken' is the supreme law of Otani-ha.
(Source: Chapter 1, Article 5 of Shuken)


The main doctrine is Ogen Ni-eko (Oso-ekoGenso-eko), as constituted from the name of Hongwan (by Amidanyorai), which was extracted from Kenjodoshinjitsukyogyoshomonrui (Kyogyoshinsho) based on Muryoju-kyo Bussetsu Muryoju-kyo Sutra by the founder of the sect, St. Shinran.
(Source: Chapter 2, Article 8 of Shuken)

The main image

One Buddha, Amidanyorai.
(Source: Chapter 2, Article 9 of Shuken)

Moreover, in order to express gratitude for the prevalence of the true dharma (正法), the pictures of Shinran, the founder of the sect, Prince Shotoku, seven high priests and successive monshus (Hongwan-ji-ha head priests) are placed.
(Source: Chapter 2, Article 10 of Shuken)

Sacred sutras of 正依

The sacred sutras of 正依 are as follows:
(Source: Chapter 2, Article 11 of Shuken)

Three Sutras of the Pure Land, Jodosanbu-kyo Sutra'

"Muryoju-kyo Bussetsu Muryoju-kyo Sutra," translated by Sogi Kosogai.

"Kanmuryoju-kyo Sutra," translated by Ryuso Kyoryoyasha.

"Amida-kyo Sutra," translated by Yoshin Kumaraju.

Sacred sutras selected or described by the seven high priests

Written by Ryuju

"Jujubibasharon," 'Igyo-hon (Igyo-bon)': Vol. 5 'Igyo-hon No. 9' of 17 volumes


Written by Tenjin

"Muryoju-kyo Ubadaisha Ganshoge"

Selected by Donran

"Muryoju-kyo Ubadaisha Ganshoge-chu"

"San Amidabutsu-ge"

Selected by Doshaku


Selected by Zendo


"Ojoraisan (Ojoraisange)"

"Hojisan (Tengyogyodogan Ojo Jodo Hojisan)"

"Hanju-san (Ekangyo Tomyo Hanju Zanmai Gyodo Ojosan)"

"Kannen-bomon (Kannen Amidabutsu Sokaisammaikudokuhomon)"

Selected by Genshin (priest)


Selected by Honen

"Senchaku Hongan Nenbutsu-shu"

Selected and described by Shinran, the founder of the sect

"Kenjodoshinjitsukyogyoshomonrui (Kyogyoshinsho)": 'Shoshin Nenbutsu-ge (Shoshinge)' is Gemon of seven words and 120 phrases at the bottom of 'the volume of Gyo (行)' in Kyogyoshinsho.

"Jodo Monrui Jusho"


"Nyushutsu Nimonge (Nyushutsu Nimongeju)"

"Jodosangyo Ojomonrui"

"Nyorai Nishu Eko-mon"





"High priest wasan"

"Shozomatsu-wasan" (Jodo (high priests) and Shozomatsu (wasans) are generically called 'Sanjo-wasan').

The current organization

Following the above basic principles, various types of missionary work, social activities and projects are implemented. Actual management is currently implemented by the central and local organizations (30 parishes in Japan and three parishes abroad (開教区), with 420 groups (So (組)) in those parishes).
In each organization a system for the separation of the powers is adopted as follows:

Central organization

The organization that corresponds to the legislative body (decision-making body): Shukai (bicameral legislature of Shu-gikai (representative of priests elected from each parish, 宗議会) and San-gikai (representative of lay followers elected from each parish, 参議会))
The organization that corresponds to the administrative body (executive body): executive bodies to implement religious activities such as Naikyoku (内局) (consisting of Shumu-socho, who is appointed at Shukai and is a representative director of the Religious Corporation Shinshu sect Otani-ha, and five sanmus (参務) appointed from Shumu-socho), Shumusyo (in the center), Kyomusho (a local branch in each parish, 教務所), and Kaikyo Kantokubu (a branch in each overseas parish, 開教監督部)
The organization that corresponds to judicial branch (a body for investigation): Shinmonin (審問院) (headed by Shinmonincho, who is appointed by Naikyoku with the consent of Shu-gikai)
Local organization (parish)
The organization that corresponds to the legislative body (decision-making body): parish association (教区会) (representative of priests elected from each So) and parish lay followers association (教区門徒会) (representatives of lay followers elected by each So).
The organization that corresponds to the administrative body (executive body): the committee of missionary work in parish (its chairman is the head of Kyomusho) and administrators of Shumu who reside in Kyomusho
The organization that corresponds to the judicial branch (a body for investigation): committee of inspectors

Local organizations (So(組))

The organization that corresponds to the legislative body (decision-making body): So-kai (組会) (responsible official of each temple and church (representatives of priests in each temple and church) and So-Monto-kai (組門徒会) (representatives of lay followers in each temple and church)
The organization that corresponds to the administrative body (executive body): disciplinary board of the So (its chairman is the head of the So, elected at the So-kai)
The organization that corresponds to the judicial branch (an investigative body): inspection committee

*Fifty-six branch temples are placed as a base for missionary work (聞信・宣布) in each domestic and overseas parish other than the above organizations.

Additionally, as a representative of priests and lay followers in the above organizations, Monshu, the Hongwan-ji-ha head priest, has been assigned and has been in charge of guarding the picture of Shinran, the founder of the sect, at Shinshu Hombyo, and reveres Buddha as a symbol of the sect, which believes the Shinshu sect teachings with other Doho (the present Monshu is the twenty-fifth Jonyo, Choken OTANI).

Additionally, although it is often confused, the Jodo Shinshu sect Higashi-Hongwan-ji-ha of which Head Temple is Higashi Hongwan-ji Temple in Taito Ward, Tokyo (the number of branch temples is 300 and several tens) defected and became independent from the Shinshu sect Otani-ha in 1981, because of the difference in the way of the sect, so currently they are different religious corporations (see "Ohigashi Turmoil (お東騒動)").

The religious community centered at Hongwan-ji Temple was originally one group, but at the beginning of the Edo period it was split into Higashi Hongwan-ji Temple's group and Nishi-Hongwan-ji Temple's group, which continue to this day.

The manner in which Hongwan-ji Temple split into east and west

The split of the Hongwan-ji Temple religious community into east and west originated from the difference of opinion within the community at the end of the Ikko Ikki (Ishiyama War) (1570-1580), which was fought around Ishiyama Hongwan-ji Temple at the end of the Age of Civil War.

Within the Hongwan-ji Temple religious community at the end of the Ishiyama War, there existed two opinions: the former was an opinion to support peace-making with the hostile Nobunaga ODA, and the latter was an opinion to insist on do-or-die resistance. The eleventh Kennyo, who was the monshu of Hongwan-ji Temple at that time, withdrew Ishiyama Hongwan-ji Temple with the group that supported overall peace, but Kyonyo, the eldest son of Kennyo, temporarily stayed at Ishiyama with the group that supported do-or-die resistance and solicited support for the resistance group even after withdrawal. This situation of a split in the religious community continued after Hongwan-ji Temple returned to Kyoto in 1591, having been given land for a temple (Nanajo Horikawa) by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. Ieyasu TOKUGAWA focused attention on this and gave land to the east of Hongwan-ji Temple (Rokujo Karasuma) to Kyonyo in 1602, aiming for the deconcentration of the power of Hongwan-ji Temple, which was the largest religious group (Ieyasu had suffered through the Ikko Ikki when he was a lord of Mikawa Province and felt seriously threatened by the power of Hongwan-ji Temple). Consequently, Hongwan-ji Temple split into Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple of which the twelfth monshu was Junnyo, the third son of Kennyo, (the present Jodo Shinshu sect Hongwan-ji-ha) and Higashi Hongwan-ji Temple of which the twelfth monshu was Kyonyo, the eldest son of Kennyo (the present Shinshu sect Otani-ha).
(*For the above, see the articles on the Jodo Shinshu sect and the history of Hongwan-ji Temple.)

It is said that such a situation reflects the above historical process because, while there are many branch temples and lay followers of Hongwan-ji-ha (Nishi Hongwan-ji Temple), especially in the Chugoku district (which is called 'Aki-monto' and so on), there are many branch temples and lay followers in the Hokuriku and Tokai districts, as seen in the location of branch temples and parishes (which are called 'Kaga-monto,' 'Owari-monto,' 'Mikawa-monto' and so on).

Successive chief priests of Otani-ha

The founder, Shinran (1173-1262): Defined as 'the founder (the first chief priest) by Kakunyo, the third chief priest).

Kakushinni (1224?-1283?): Reburied Shinran's stone pagoda from Otani to Yoshimizu in 1272 and built Otani Mausoleum. In 1277 she assumed the first Rusushiki (until 1283).

The second chief priest, Nyoshin (1235-1300): delegated the light of Buddhism in 1280.
(He delegated office work to Kakushinni and Kakue.)
He was defined as 'the second chief priest' by Kakunyo, the third chief priest.

Kakue (1239?-1307): Succeeded from Rusushiki in 1283 (until 1307).

*'The incident of Yuizen': Turmoil over the installation of Rusushiki between Kakue and Yuizen. After Kakue's death, it was settled by the adjudication of Shorenin on July in 1309.

The third chief priest, Kakunyo (1270-1351): succeeded Rusushiki of Otani Mausoleum with the approval of lay followers in Eastern provinces in 1310.
(- 1314, 1322- 1338, 1342-1350) (repeated transfer and reinstatement)

*in 1321 he turned Otani Mausoleum into a temple, which became 'Hongwan-ji Temple.'
(In 1312 he put up the framework of 'Senju-ji Temple' but it was removed by Eizan's opposition.)

*In 1331 he wrote "Kuden-sho," expressed 'Ketimyaku (Lineage Through Blood, 血脈"), which is kept among three generations, and insisted on succeeding the light of Buddhism.
(Lineage of dharma (法脈): HonenShinranNyoshinKakunyo, lineage through blood: Shinran⇒Kakushinni⇒KakueKakunyo)

Zonkaku (1290-1373): Succeeded from Rusushiki in 1314
(-1322, 1338-1342 (repeated removal and reinstatement by Kakunyo)

*In 1350 he was reconciled with Kakunyo. He delegated the status of Hongwan-ji Betto (a status including the chief priest of the temple into Rusushiki) to Zennyo.

The fourth chief priest, Zennyo (1333-1389): Succeeded in 1350

The fifth chief priest, Shakunyo (1350-1393): Succeeded in 1390
(Soon after succession, he delegated the temple's office work to Konyo.)

The sixth chief priest, Konyo (1376-1440): Became the successor in 1394

The seventh chief priest, Zonyo (1396-1457)

The eighth chief priest, Rennyo (1415-1499): Passed over in 1489

The ninth chief priest, Jitsunyo (1458-1525)

The tenth chief priest, Shonyo (1516-1554)

The eleventh chief priest, Kennyo (1543-1592)

(The following are of the Shinshu sect Otani-ha.)

The twelfth chief priest, Kyonyo (1558-1614)

The thirteenth chief priest, Sennyo (1604-1658)

The fourteenth chief priest, Takunyo (1625-1671): passed over in 1664.

The fifteenth chief priest, Jonyo (1641-1694): passed over in 1679.

The sixteenth chief priest, Ichinyo (1649-1700)

The seventeenth chief priest, Shinnyo (Higashi Hongwan0ji Temple) (1682-1744)

The eighteenth chief priest, Junyo (1720-1760)

The nineteenth chief priest, Jonyo (1744-1792)

The twentieth chief priest, Tatsunyo (1780-1865): passed over in 1846.

The twenty-first chief priest, Kosho OTANI (1817-1894): passed over in 1889.

The twenty-second chief priest, Koei OTANI (1852-1923): passed over in 1908.

The twenty-third chief priest, Koen OTANI (1875-1943): passed over in 1925.

The twenty-fourth chief priest, Kocho OTANI (1903-1993): passed over in 1993 with his entering nirvana.

From 1993 to 1996, due to the chaos caused by the Ohigasi Turmoil, monshu had been absent and Ennei OTANI Kagiyaku (1914-2008) had been put in charge as an alternate monshu.

The twenty-fifth chief priest, Choken OTANI (1930-): Succeeded in 1996
The Present Monshu

Reference: Shinshu Otani-ha Techo (published by Shinshu Otani-ha Shumusho Shuppanbu)

Local office (宗務出張所)

In order to communicate with government and other central institutions and to adjust policies in the capital, the Tokyo Local office was established.
(Chapter 6, Section 4, Article 59 of Shuken)


In order to manage local missionary work, the entire national territory was parochialized and Kyomusho was established in each parish.
(Source: Chapter 6, Section 5, Article 60 of Shuken)

Additionally, Otani-ha established a regional parish system (連区制), aiming to establish partnership with each parish on a regional scale in Japan and to promote missionary work more in each area.
There are five regional parishes of 'Hokkaido prefecture: 'Tohoku,' 'Hokuriku,' 'Tokai,' 'Kinki' and 'Kyushu.'

Branch temples

Branch temples are placed under the control of domestic parishes or overseas parishes.
(Source: Chapter 6, Section 5, Article 61 of Shuken)

A chief priest is appointed at a branch temple, and Monshu is in charge of this. However, a person other than Monshu can become a chief priest.
(Chapter 7, Article 73 of Shuken)

A Rinban (輪番) is appointed at a branch temple. A Rinban carries out for the work of chief priest and is a representative director of branch temple as a religious corporation.
(Chapter 7, Article 74 of Shuken)

Fifty-six temples exist as branch temples of the Shinshu sect Otani-ha as shown below, and the way of their establishment is as follows:

The case of establishment at an historical site of the founder of the sect or the successive monshu, or at venerable lands.

The case of establishment as the basis for the missionary work of each area

The case of establishment through a combination of the reasons mentioned above

Although there is a regional disproportion, it is placed nearly all over Japan (along with three overseas) and plays a role as a base of missionary work in each place.


Being greatly different from other traditional Buddhist sects, which interpret the concept of missionary work broadly and have no direct relationship with political movements as organizations, it conducts in-depth activities socially and politically with other Shinshu sects, so that there is such a criticism from inside and outside the sect, as it is too active in movements of a political and/or leftist nature. Additionally, some priests and voluntary groups of followers are concerned with and see it as a problem that the activities of Otani-ha and Shinshu Kyodan Rengo consisting of ten groups of Shinshu sects (including Otani-ha) seem to incline toward the left.

[Original Japanese]