The following is a translation of an excerpt from Ishizue: Kashihara Genjiro no shinko to shogai (Cornerstone: The Faith and Life of Genjiro Kashihara) by Teruo Nishiyama. Note: This translation is a provisional one and may need to undergo further revision.
His Lifelong Path
While Genjiro was saved from a severe illness, he could not accept why such a miracle occurred even though he had not accumulated the virtue that merited such divine protection.
The Chinese classics that Genjiro studied generally had heavy pragmatic overtones and did not place serious emphasis on anything supernatural. Confucius said: “We are ignorant about matters while we are living. How could anyone know anything about matters after death?” Also, “I do not speak about extraordinary phenomena, feats of strength, disorder, and supernatural beings.”
Genjiro, who had believed in such teachings since he was young, could not completely cut them off at such a moment’s notice. Nevertheless, although he did not understand completely, Genjiro felt deeply indebted and began believing devoutly in Eki’emon’s stead. He commuted to the home of confraternity director Fusajiro Oe and hungrily listened to talks on Tenrikyo.
In the Tenma family, Katsuzo rejoiced that Genjiro was saved, but that did not mean he immediately rejected Ontakekyo. Still, he openly recognized the faith of his sons. They had the freedom to devote an entire day to go to worship on the monthly service day of Muya Branch Church in Naruto while they did farm work on the side.
It was around this time when there appeared two people who wished to receive Genjiro as an adopted son. He likely showed promise for his smarts and good conduct as well as for his composed and earnest disposition. One of them was a member of the Yoshimi family, which was among the richest in Tokushima Prefecture. They ran an indigo warehouse. (The head of the Yoshimi household later became president of the Tokushima Chamber of Commerce.) Katsuzo was greatly enthusiastic about the prospect, but Genjiro, who usually never went against his parent’s wishes, did not give his consent.
“Money might be nice, but salvation work is more interesting.” Such was what Genjiro thought. Although it is unknown whether he clearly voiced this out loud or not, Katsuzo was nevertheless disappointed at how Genjiro did not show any interest when such an excellent offer came their way.
The other offer came from the director of Yamauchi Hospital in Tokushima City. Yamauchi Hospital was a flourishing institution that was said to be the best hospital in Tokushima at the time. The director’s daughter was also a renowned beauty. There was a never-ending stream of suitors, but the director set his sights on Genjiro and wanted him by any means necessary, and offered a series of favorable conditions one after another. Yet again, Genjiro remained unmoved.
He admitted to his mother Koto, “I’d rather become a doctor who saves minds than a doctor who saves the body.” In any case, that he easily rejected the chance to become a rich man and a medical doctor on his own accord showed how much he loved Tenrikyo more than anything else.
In the end, he did as his spiritual parent Unosuke Tosa directed and at age 21 became the adopted son of Tomokichi Kashihara, who was on the board of directors of Myodo Auxiliary Church. He came across as being an eccentric then as well.
Tomokichi Kashihara was said to be the greatest miracle worker in Tokushima at the time. He had quit his occupation as a fishmonger and devoted himself completely to the path. He was in the midst of living in poverty, renting a shabby room near the church for 40 sen a month. Some relatives were against Genjiro’s marriage, objecting that he did not have to go out of his way to subject himself to such hardship after having refused such good marriage proposals elsewhere, but Genjiro readily accepted.
On the day he went to become part of the Kashihara family, as he was readying himself to go, he asked with a serious look on his face to the person escorting him: “I’m going to become a member of the Kashihara family. I wonder if they have a daughter?”
“You can’t be serious! Who would agree to go without knowing such a thing?”
The person laughed at him. Yet it appears that Genjiro considered his marriage into the Kashihara family not as something decided among human beings but as an opportunity to work in a family devoted to serving God.
- Next installment in this series: Brothers