The following is a translation of an excerpt from the writings of Eitaro Imamura (1894–1969), who held several positions throughout his career as a Honbu-jun’in (Tenrikyo Church Headquarters senior official), such as superintendent of Akita, Aomori, Iwate, and Wakayama dioceses, president of Tenrikyo Doyusha Publishing Co., head of Publications Approval Office, and first head minister of Jibun Branch Church.
52. Scenes from Nighttime Timely Talks
Night fell quietly upon the Residence. There were no longer any signs of worshipers as the night wore on, wrapping the Residence in a veil of peaceful silence.
The still of night was then abruptly broken. One could see lantern lights suddenly appear and begin to scurry about. The Honseki was about to deliver Divine Directions, and the seinens (male attendants) that were on duty rushed to inform the ministers.
The Divine Directions known as “Timely Talks” were often delivered at night. In most cases, the Honseki would show signs that a Timely Talk was about to be delivered. Although nothing could be done for ministers who were away on missionary visits, the seinens would hurry to have as many ministers as possible that were present in Jiba to hear the imminent Timely Talk firsthand.
Ministers would jump awake and head to the Honseki’s residence even in the dead of night. Some of the lanterns among that of the seinens may have belonged to these ministers. In any case, as a child I often saw the sight of lantern lights flying around like fireflies inside the Residence at night. Even though I was too young to understand them, my heart would race as I wondered to myself what kind of Divine Directions were going to be delivered.
One of the regular scenes on the streets outside the Residence at that time was the sight of adults talking about the Divine Directions that were delivered the previous night. As a child, however, I have no recollection about the actual contents of those Divine Directions.
But it cannot be denied that a tense atmosphere constantly surrounded the Jiba throughout the 20 years during which God delivered the Divine Directions through the Honseki. This was probably because there was no knowing when the next Divine Directions might come, and this fact did not allow even a moment of complacency on the part of those who lived and worked at Church Headquarters.
(From Ojiba konjaku banashi by Eitaro Imamura pp. 71–73)
- Next installment in this series: 53. Before a Timely Talk
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.