Part 3: Kosen-rufu and World Peace
Chapter 31: The Great Path to World Peace [31.12]

31.12 Kosen-rufu Is a Great Cultural Movement

It has always been President Ikeda’s conviction that the Soka Gakkai’s culture-related activities are accessible ways to communicate the joy and elevated life state attained through Buddhist faith and practice. In accord with his guidance, the Soka Gakkai has promoted a grassroots cultural movement through such events as music and culture festivals. At a Headquarters leaders meeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of the young men’s and young women’s divisions, President Ikeda speaks of the significance of the Soka Gakkai’s cultural activities as represented by the Music Corps and the Fife and Drum Corps.

Many thanks to the young men’s Music Corps, brilliant musicians of kosen-rufu! Founded in May 1954, the Music Corps has consistently inspired and encouraged our members with its rousing performances for almost five decades. I would like to present them with the following poem:

“Ah, the Music Corps!
and its melodies of the Buddhas and heavenly deities
even amid the storm . . .”

On the day of the Osaka Rally1 [July 17, 1957], members of the Music Corps gathered from early in the morning on the riverbank in Osaka’s Nakanoshima area. There, they played Soka Gakkai songs with all their might, hoping that their music would reach me where I was being held [in detention on false charges by the authorities]. I could hear them very clearly. I will never forget that courageous sound.

My thanks, too, to the young women’s Fife and Drum Corps, those emissaries of peace. I would like to praise them with a poem:

“The Fife and Drum Corps—
shining vibrantly
in this tumultuous world.”

One has but to mention the Fife and Drum Corps and everyone wants to go and hear them play. The members have accumulated immense benefits as a result of steadfastly spreading the light of peace.

It was in 1956, in our humble home in Kobayashi-cho in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, that my wife and I, along with several representatives of the young women’s division, discussed ideas for forming such a group. That was the beginning of today’s Fife and Drum Corps.

Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound, who appears in the Lotus Sutra, is said to be accompanied wherever he goes by the music of hundreds and thousands of heavenly musicians.

[“The Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound” chapter of the Lotus Sutra says: “The lands that he (Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound) passed through on his way quaked and trembled in six different ways, and in all of them seven-jeweled lotus flowers rained down and the instruments of hundreds and thousands of heavenly musicians sounded of themselves without having been struck” (LSOC24, 334).]

In one of his writings, Nichiren Daishonin cites the words: “We can discern a country’s rise and fall by whether its tones are happy or sad” (GZ, 88 [GZ, new ed., 921]). Namely, the sounds prevailing in society at any given time can help us understand a country’s future, whether it is destined to flourish or decline. These sounds are the sounds of human voices and, by extension, of culture and the arts, including, of course, music.

Kosen-rufu is a great cultural movement that deeply values music and the arts. It was based on the fundamental values and principles of Buddhism that I established the Music Corps and the Fife and Drum Corps.

When I asked Mr. Toda if I could do so, he simply said: “If you’ll take full responsibility, Daisaku, go right ahead!” I purchased a few instruments out of my own pocket and donated them to the original members—16 in the Music Corps and 33 in the Fife and Drum Corps. Today, these groups each boast some 20,000 members in Japan, and many of their constituent groups have won top prizes in national competitions.


These achievements are remarkable. The activities of these groups in themselves constitute a great artistic and cultural movement. This “network of Bodhisattvas Wonderful Sound” has today spread to some 30 countries and territories. Time and again, Music Corps and Fife and Drum Corps groups around the world have taken part in important national events and won high acclaim, creating a superlative record of achievement. I would like to wholeheartedly applaud these groups for becoming the best in the world.

From a speech at a Soka Gakkai Headquarters leaders meeting, Tokyo, November 12, 2001.

The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace brings together selections from President Ikeda’s works on key themes.

  • *1Osaka Rally: A Soka Gakkai rally held to protest the unjust detention of President Ikeda, then Soka Gakkai youth division chief of staff, by the Osaka District Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the Osaka Incident. It was convened at the Nakanoshima Civic Hall in Osaka on July 17, 1957, the day of President Ikeda’s release after two weeks of interrogation by the authorities.