Art, Music, Drama and Creativity
Although Nichiren Buddhism has a reputation for being intolerant towards other variants of Buddhism, the SGI organisations in different countries have adapted to their unique contexts quite flexibly. Thus, while Soka Gakkai in Japan remains relatively nationalist, SGI organisations tend to reflect the national cultures of their specific context and can be quite patriotic. This combination of patriotism and exotic foreign-ness partly explains Soka Gakkai’s appeal, for example, amongst the so-called ‘hippie generation’ in the USA (Montgomery 1991: 211).
There have been high-profile celebrity converts to Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism prior to its schism with Soka Gakkai in the early 1990s and to post-schism Soka Gakkai. These include Oscar nominee Sal Mineo (of Rebel Without a Cause), Grammy-winning rock star Tina Turner, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, footballer Roberto Baggio, film star Orlando Bloom (of The Lord of the Rings fame), and pop star Boy George (nusch 2018).
This popularity of Soka Gakkai amongst international celebrities grew alongside the changes introduced by Ikeda, such as cultural activities, including an Arts Division and a music corps starting from the 1950s (Daisaku Ikeda Website Committee 2018). In 1963, Ikeda founded the Min-On Concert Association to promote “the global exchange of musical culture with the aim of developing mutual understanding and respect among people of different races and nationalities” (Min-On Concert Association 2018).