50K Festival

Lessons From the Sapporo Campaign

50K Festival

Shin’ichi Yamamoto rides on the back of a scooter to save travel time, based on his conviction that meeting and talking with as many members as possible was the key to winning in the Sapporo propagation campaign. ILLUSTRATION BY KENICHIRO UCHIDA.


In August 1955, Daisaku Ikeda was dispatched to head an intensive 10-day propagation campaign in Sapporo. Together with local Soka Gakkai members, they set a new record by introducing 388 new households in just 10 days.

As we forge ahead toward the 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival, let’s seek from our mentor’s example on how to ensure that 50,000 Lions of Justice register for our historic gatherings on Sept. 23.

The following are excerpts from volume 15 of The New Human Revolution. Daisaku Ikeda appears in the novel as Shin’ichi Yamamoto.

Laying the Groundwork for Victory

The campaign took place over a mere 10 days and the leaders sent to Hokkaido were no more capable or trained than anyone else. So what was the secret to their success? Shin’ichi Yamamoto certainly didn’t do anything special. But from the end of June, when he learned that he would be leading the group from Tokyo, he had made painstaking and thorough advance preparations, laying the groundwork to achieve victory in that limited period of time.

He wrote several letters to Sapporo Group Leader Yuai Odaka and coordinated carefully with him. The correspondence covered every detail of the movement, including the goal of introducing 300 new households and such issues as lodging for the leaders from Tokyo, the overall itinerary, second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda’s schedule, arrangements for the place and time of the general meeting to be held there, and promoting dialogue in the activities leading up to the campaign. Shin’ichi additionally sent warm words of encouragement.

Shin’ichi’s letters were shared with all the Sapporo Group members, who took advance steps to carry out everything just as he indicated. Shin’ichi also recommended that Sapporo be divided into five districts—east, west, north, south and central—and assigned leaders from Tokyo to work with each area. A detailed schedule was drawn up, clearly indicating when and where discussion meetings would take place. As the actual activity approached, every possible measure had been planned and taken.

Shin’ichi exerted himself with the determination that each day was crucial to making the summer guidance session a success.

If the proper steps aren’t taken at each moment, it will show later in the outcome. A great victory cannot be achieved without the accumulation of smaller victories.

Shin’ichi dedicated himself whole-heartedly to the task, all the while sternly reflecting on his actions and asking himself: Did I waste any time today? Am I being slack? Do I have any regrets or second thoughts? (pp. 64–65)

Throw Yourself Wholeheartedly Into the Campaign

Out of a desire to realize kosen-rufu and with an earnest determination to undergo their human revolution and overcome their sufferings through their Buddhist practice, each of them participated in the summer campaign. They threw themselves wholeheartedly into the campaign, and the benefits they received from their dedicated efforts were conspicuous. Everyone felt the profound joy of practicing Nichiren Buddhism and as a result deepened their conviction in faith. (p. 66)

Ties Forged in the Distant Past

Shin’ichi introduced the passage from “The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life” that states, “It must be ties of karma from the distant past that have destined you to become my disciple at a time like this” (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 217) . . .

“The fact that all of us were born at this time and have gathered together now to unite our efforts in this campaign is the result of deep ties forged in the past. It is no accident. We promised Nichiren Daishonin in a previous existence that we would carry out kosen-rufu. And in order to do so, some of us volunteered to be born poor and some to lead a life of illness.

“The place and time that we chose in the past to begin our great struggle is none other than Sapporo, Hokkaido, in August 1955. You have all assembled here to participate in this great campaign so that you can change your karma of poverty or illness and demonstrate the greatness of the Mystic Law. If you are firmly aware of this, you cannot fail to exhibit tremendous ability. With the Gohonzon, we will never be deadlocked. Let us fight with zest and high spirits!”

Shin’ichi’s lecture struck the members deeply. As they listened to him speak, they realized that their mission stemmed from the remote past and were thrilled to participate in this historic struggle that would determine the future of kosen-rufu. They rose to the challenge, their excitement fueling their efforts. United in spirit, the leaders from Tokyo and the local members went out into the streets of Sapporo filled with a fresh sense of purpose. (pp. 66–67)

Speed and Tenacity

Shin’ichi also threw himself into the struggle. He keenly felt that to achieve victory, it was crucial to meet and talk with as many members as possible, encouraging and supporting them here, where they were carrying out their valiant struggles. He therefore went around participating in discussion meetings and visiting members’ homes. After encouraging a member living in the suburbs, he would turn up half an hour later at a meeting place in downtown Sapporo. He moved so quickly that he seemed to be everywhere at once. It was on the back of Yuai Odaka’s motor scooter that he could travel from place to place so speedily.

After one of Shin’ichi’s morning lectures on Nichiren’s writings, he told a women’s division member present that he would be attending her discussion meeting later that day. At the appointed time, the woman waited outside for Shin’ichi to arrive. A scooter approached, but she didn’t pay much attention to it. Then she heard a voice: “Hi! Sorry to have kept you waiting!” When she turned around, Shin’ichi was standing at her side.

She had thought that he would surely arrive by taxi or car; it never occurred to her he would come riding on the back of a motor scooter. Shin’ichi explained to the astonished member: “This is the fastest way to get around. It makes it possible for me to attend more meetings.” He didn’t care about outward appearances. Victory was his only concern. (pp. 67–68)

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