This poem was first published in Japanese in the Seikyo Shimbun newspaper on January 24, 2000.
To my beloved Soka students and members of the Student Division nationwide
In the far distance, rising into the azure sky, Mt. Fuji clothed in white.
Oh, Hachioji! Place of music, of poetic artistry.
One winter’s morning when the world was bright with the sun’s embrace I stood with my wife among the castle ruins.
Beyond the old Takiyama Highway which runs beneath we could see Soka University —flourishing sanctuary of wisdom— sparkling in the morning sun.
Soka Women’s College, graceful and elegant as a flower glistened on an adjacent hill.
This historic place nestled in tranquility is remote from the bustling world.
Coming here, one enters a peaceful, verdant realm filled with life and beauty. Gazing up at magnificent white clouds one is in a world apart, wrapped in transparent stillness.
Nowadays, the old water wheels and thatched houses are rarely seen on Musashino plain. Yet here remains, through untold ages, this treasure house of nature’s poetry— the ruins of Takiyama Castle.
In the still, clear air, a path strewn with fallen leaves forms a tunnel through the trees, and calls to the woods with the loneliness of an orphan.
Along this narrow trail which countless warriors once traversed, where soldiers once drank in victory celebrations, my wife and I approached the peak.
On both sides of the path bordered by fresh, translucent green, the unforgettable sight of towering trees. Proud and composed, roots steadfastly clutching rock, they seem to proclaim a state of calm, undaunted being.
A magnificent brocade, woven of an infinite variety of ever-changing flora, blankets the slope of the rising hill.
The path, silent and resigned, is strewn with blighted leaves. Stirred by a gentle wind, those still on the branches flutter into a crimson blizzard.
The wood is silent and undisturbed save for the occasional purifying singing of wild birds. Their shadows flash past and the song of their joy of living fades into the depths of the grove.
The bright sun filtering through the treetops shines upon each life, caressing even the tips of leaves, and a warm compassionate light permeates the wood.
We reach the crest of the hill; in the distance, the clear waters of the Tama River twined together like silver threads. A lone streak of cloud stretches across the vast sky.
In bygone days the air was filled with the raised voices of warriors who marched along this path.
At times singing loudly their victory songs. At times exhausted but filled with fresh resolve— to fight once more today, to defend again tomorrow. The sound of a thousand suits of armor gleaming in the morning sun: Together, my beloved comrade in arms, let us adorn our undefeated lives!
There were times when all that remained were deep sighs and silent footsteps, when there were neither tears nor words.
There were also times in this history woven of life and struggle, when comrades endured parting on this very path, one wrapping another in homespun cloth, carefully shielding his head from above.
Here in these ruins I envision the ghostly figures of warriors laughing, bustling, milling about …
In my mind’s eye I see the brilliant students of Soka University frequenting this place through the seasons. In spring a drift of blossoms from a thousand cherry trees. In summer the rows of tall green trees unyielding and staunch. In autumn the rich symphony of the insects’ cheerful song. In winter contemplating life and truth, the sturdy wood a silver world mantled in snow.
Sometimes it is a jogging track, the “Takiyama Castle course”— where mind and body are forged strong as steel.
Sometimes a studio where young da Vincis cultivate their artistic skills— their works, already exhibited abroad, winning the praise of their peers.
Sometimes this place is a natural plaza where, engrossed in dialogue and oblivious to the passage of time, friends forge lifelong bonds.
At times, this is a place where young students from around the world gather joyfully, linking hearts across the globe.
Sometimes it is a path of contemplation and philosophy imbued with the personal memories of a troubled heart.
From the window of Soka University’s newly-built Central Tower the ruins of the castle, surrounded by lush green, are visible as well.
In my heart I am always together with the students of Soka University, walking where they walk, pausing where they pause, breathing the air they breathe.
And I offer words of respect to the long-gone lord of the castle for magnanimously embracing, protecting and nurturing the Soka students: "Thank you for taking care of my beloved sons, my precious daughters!”
In times past, this is a place where countless battles raged. Always the castle remained undefeated, defiantly defended to the last though often destruction loomed. The Kanto region’s foremost mountain castle— without keep or cut-stone walls but fashioned of natural valleys and cliffs.
In 1569—the twelfth year of Eiroku, Takeda Shingen, marching on Odawara to attack the Hojo clan, made camp in Haijima forest. From there he sent twenty thousand of his men exhorting them to hold a “festival of blood” in Takiyama Castle.
Although those who defended Takiyama numbered a mere two thousand, Shingen’s expectations were betrayed. "Why don’t they give in …" "What’s taking so long …"
The lord of Takiyama Castle, Hojo Ujiteru, gave this command: "Fight or die with this castle as your pillow. Do not allow the enemy to take even a single step inside these walls!”
The general Ujiteru was the first to rush forward to meet the attacking foe.
A single force, two thousand strong, rose in a high-spirited, indomitable response: "We’ll protect this, our castle, at any cost!" "We’ll fight until the very last moment of life!"
The outer defenses were breached, yet the soldiers held their ground and launched a fresh attack which thoroughly unnerved Katsuyori, the famous Shingen’s son. Shingen, once thought to be invincible, finally sounded the retreat.
Oh, the glorious ruins of Takiyama Castle! which the soldiers resolutely protected as their very own.
Later, Ujiteru moved to Hachioji Castle and Takiyama, now deserted, was swallowed by weeds and wood.
Centuries of seasons have passed … the deep trenches seem even now to hide soldiers and the level courtyards are untouched since that time.
It is just as it was in those ancient days when generals saw the moon reflected in their sake cups, and the skies resounded with the beat of battle drums.
Those several hundred years seem like a single day in this place where history’s churning has ceased and turned all to a tranquil paradise of flowers and green breathing life, the future, peace.
These ruins of Takiyama Castle and Soka University are like friends, brothers. The enduring bond of the two adjacent green hills will remain in history for all time.
On mornings when the same sun smiled on our waking, through evenings when we slept watched over by the same constellations … The same wind and snow we braved and on sunny days the same view of distant Mt. Fuji we shared.
The fortress of past wars has quietly watched over a new-born fortress of peace.
Thirty years have passed since Soka University’s founding. The ruins of Takiyama Castle, have listened quietly to the hammering sounds of construction as the school steadily grew. You have watched the noble sight of youth, of students tempering mind and spirit, making their way out into the world.
Whenever they came to you, you enfolded them in your gentle embrace just as they are —all their worries, sorrow and sufferings, their joys, excitement and hopes— giving a long, deep nod of assurance.
I once told the students: We are one in body and spirit. No one can break our bond.
On another occasion I wrote: I shall protect you with all my life. Because that is for me the greatest joy.
To open a path for you— that is everything to me.
I wish to spend the closing years of my life here in Hachioji watching over and fostering the Soka students … These are my true sentiments which I have expressed again and again, and I wish to spend ever more time with you here on the campus of Soka University.
I want to do anything I possibly can for you. Soka University is my life and you are my eternal comrades, through the three existences of past, present and future.
A giant tree begins as a tiny seed buried in the dirt. With all its might it draws nourishment and develops a robust shoot. With all its strength it pushes through the soil and expands myriad roots to bind it firmly with the earth.
This precisely is the way for you to grow. Break through the hard ground, face the wind and frost, dauntless, unwavering, dignified and unrestrained, always true to yourself, higher, taller.
My cherished friends, students of Soka University, I urge you: Be strong in the days of your youth! Be strong throughout your life! Be unyielding, decisive in your strength! For herein lies the key to victory in all things!
Relentlessly study and learn! Single-mindedly, determinedly study and learn! For herein lies victory amid the harsh realities of life!
Never be defeated, never wallow in self-pity. Conquer your own mind!
A struggle with yourself— that is the reality of your life for the entirety of your life.
In all things, bravely challenge the task that lies before you heroic in your quest for wisdom and intellect.
Do not be impatient! Do not retreat or fall behind! Advance, simply continue to advance! This is the way of victorious youth. All you need do is advance on your own unique path true always to yourself!
Each of you give form to the founding spirit in a way that is true to you; let it shine from your life— this precisely is your mission, which I trust you to fulfill.
When I envision you, together and in solidarity with my beloved members of the Student Division throughout the nation and the world, actively engaged, dynamically contributing on the grand stage of the new century, further faith and conviction well up, my hopes and dreams expand without limit.
The Japanese cedar soaring into the heavens, the beautiful ash with its shining trunk, oak, beech, cherry … On the hill of Takiyama Castle hundreds, thousands of trees quietly stand, each with its own rich uniqueness, connected, moreover, within the unseen web of life.
Your elder brothers and sisters, with whom you share such deep bonds, are struggling to their utmost! Even as they are tossed about by the rough seas of reality, with love and pride they earnestly strive to eternalize their alma mater!
More than anything, it is this robust and brilliant spirit that brings me, as founder, joy.
How my heart leaps with delight when I learn of the successes and achievements of Soka Alumni. How it pains me to hear their sad news. These are feelings known only by the founder of a university.
My friends, for all eternity I will be together with you! For all eternity I will be your ally!
Time has passed, clouds have drifted westward and the shadow of the wood has grown darker by degrees.
Beneath the dry leaves where we tread young seeds are sprouting from the earth. Young buds, small and firm, enduring the coldness of the wind and eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring, peer from the branches of the trees.
Beyond the dignified trees which form a triumphant arch I see, bathed in the crimson sunset, the Central Tower of Soka University rising majestically into the sky.
Spring— In spring of the year 2000 again, the hills of Musashino will be radiant with beautiful light, a fresh abundance of green colored by the drifting petals of cherry blossoms breathing new life to the world.
I wait for spring, for the time when my cherished Soka students will soar into the skies of the twenty-first century! When we will celebrate joyously our thirtieth anniversary, and welcome fresh young scholars to the campus of the third millennium! And that is the time when we send out into the world a brilliant light of hope!
I await, in happy anticipation I will continue to await your growth! your victory! your glory!
Looking into the shining eyes of my Soka students bravely embarking into the twenty-first century