Cornerstone: Chapter 2-3

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 First Sermons

Genjiro was first to awake on January 1, 1893, to prepare for the New Year’s Day Service at Muya Grand Church. He went twice carrying a wooden bucket to the well at the foot of the nearby mountain to draw water that was to be offered for the service. Once he did this, he completed the rest of the preparations and the New Year’s Day Service began while it was still dark outside. After the New Year’s greetings were exchanged, Rev. Tosa summoned Genjiro. He ordered him to visit and deliver sermons at the homes of every confraternity director living in Muya’s neighboring villages.

“I’m surprised you want me to a deliver sermon on New Year’s Day. I’m not sure if anyone is in the mood for it.”

“There’s never a holiday for God’s workings. We are also told that Oyasama never took a day’s rest either. Since we are to follow Oyasama’s Divine Model, all you need to do is to keep this in mind and you’ll be alright.”

“Yes, I understand.”

Genjiro put on his straw sandals and departed. He delivered a sermon at the home of Director Yoshizawa. Then, between January 2 and 4, he gave one sermon each in the villages of Yoshinaga, Sumiyoshi, and Oshiro.

Could it be that Genjiro was suddenly ordered to visit Muya’s confraternities because he had some formal learning? When he arrived, he discovered he had nothing to talk about.

Genjiro had no choice but to talk about what he knew best, the teachings of Confucius from his classical Chinese studies. He tried talking about the path of the sages. Although people seemed to listen with interest, no one appeared to be moved emotionally in any way.


Genjiro pondered and came up with ideas as he returned to Muya while being whipped by the winter wind.

On the 12th, Genjiro was ordered to give a zenseki sermon.1 Although it was only for a brief period of time, he couldn’t help but talk mainly about the Confucian path. He was later summoned by Rev. Tosa.

“This is a Tenrikyo church. It’s not a school. Talking about the Confucian path when people have come to hear God’s teachings is like selling vegetables with a sign that says ‘seafood’ outside. Don’t do that again.”

“Then, what am I supposed to talk about?”

“That’s for you to carefully think over.” Rev. Tosa did not even give him a hint.

Figuring that he had been scolded, Genjiro expected that he would not be asked to give a zenseki sermon again. However, he was told to give the talk on the 22nd, the day of the monthly service. The first time, Genjiro had some confidence, but he felt restless the second time. Genjiro suffered as no one instructed him on what to say. He was also assigned to speak twice in February as well. A sense of urgency welled up inside; he felt he had to do something.

In the spring, Kiyoshi Hashimoto, a doctrinal instructor from Church Headquarters, was on an official tour, which began in Marugame. It just happened that Genjiro had come to visit his brother Eki’emon at the barracks that very day. Once heard the news, he immediately went to listen in the back of the room and was impressed like he had never been before.

“Truly, such is what one ought to expect from one of Oyasama’s direct disciples! It must take someone great to become a Church Headquarters official. So this is what Tenrikyo is about!” Genjiro was completely enthralled. When he returned to Muya, he received permission to temporarily go home. After receiving some money from his mother, he chased after Rev. Hashimoto.

Rev. Hashimoto’s sermons were quite popular. He was a gifted speaker. Since he was once a school teacher, his sermons were constructed very carefully. Genjiro stayed at cheap lodging houses and was bit by lice. He rode the same boat Rev. Hashimoto would take and wrote down notes.

Since Genjiro never disobeyed Rev. Tosa, it was quite a deal for him to lie and chase after Rev. Hashimoto like he did. Although it was likely that he was spellbound by Rev. Hashimoto’s sermons, what mainly prompted such behavior was his harsh experience of not knowing what to talk and a wish to learn how to give sermons by any means possible.

Translator’s note

  1. This can potentially refer to a talk given after the morning service on a monthly service day or a sermon given before the minister’s monthly service sermon.