The Recent History of the Conferral of the Gohonzon
[1920s - early 1950s]
Gohonzon were issued mainly by branch temples in Tokyo. Each branch temple on its own accord reproduced Gohonzon after one transcribed by a high priest with whom it had close relationship in the past and conferred them upon believers. For example, Myoko-ji (in Tokyo) reproduced and issued a Gohonzon transcribed by Nippu, the 55th high priest; Hodo-in, a Gohonzon transcribed by Nichio, the 56th high priest; and Jozai-ji (in Tokyo), a Gohonzon transcribed by Nissho, the 57th high priest.
Branch temples outside the Tokyo area received okatagi Gohonzon (i.e., Gohonzon reproduced through a printing process) from large branch temples in Tokyo and issued them to believers. Some branch temples issued unmounted okatagi Gohonzon to believers. In these cases, believers had to bring Gohonzon to a professional mounter to have them mounted on a scroll for enshrinement.
[Mid - 1950s - 1960]
Since the mid-1950s, branch temples started to issue okatagi Gohonzon based on one transcribed by Nichikan, the 26th high priest. During the tenure of Nichijun (1956-1959), the 65th high priest, most newly issued Gohonzon were the replicas of Nichikan's okatagi Gohonzon.
Nichikan's okatagi Gohonzon were printed at Hodo-in in Tokyo. Branch temples that had business with mounters purchased unmounted okatagi Gohonzon from Hodo-in and had them mounted by their affiliated mounters. Branch temples without mounters had okatagi Gohonzon mounted at Hodo-in.
[Early to mid - 1960s]
Nichikan's okatagi Gohonzon were printed at Hodo-in and mounted at its affiliated mounter. The mounted okatagi Gohonzon were then delivered to branch temples.
Since 1966, Nittatsu's okatagi Gohonzon were printed at Hodo-in and mounted by its affiliated mounter. Then they were delivered directly from Hodo-in to each branch temple.
Around 1973, Myohon-ji temple in Chiba Prefecture reproduced its man'nen kugo Gohonzon, which was inscribed by the Daishonin, in a reduced size and conferred them upon believers without Nittatsu's permission.
Since Nikken became high priest in 1979, a section was created within the Administrative Office at Taiseki-ji to administer the reproduction and distribution of Gohonzon.
Nikken's okatagi Gohonzon are printed at a printing company in Fujinomiya City near Taiseki-ji. They are brought back to Taiseki-ji where the printing quality is inspected and are then mounted at one of several mounters. After an inspection of the mounting quality, they are delivered from the Administrative Office to each branch temple that ordered them.
It is clear from these facts that high priests have not performed "eye-opening"
ceremonies upon all okatagi Gohonzon. According to the testimony
of priests who have served at Taiseki-ji, Nikken rarely performs an eye-opening
ceremony over okatagi Gohonzon destined for conferral upon believers.
On the rare occasions that he has, he has instructed acolytes to bring
only a few of the many boxes of Gohonzon allocated for shipment to be placed
on the altar before the recitation of ushitora gongyo at the Grand Reception
Hall. Outside of gongyo, no special ceremony is ever performed. If the
priesthood, therefore, insists that Gohonzon not authorized by the high
priest, not issued by the head temple or those not receiving the eye-opening
ceremony are counterfeit, it would have to admit that it has been deceiving
believers by distributing counterfeit objects of worship for centuries.