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.
How Tomokichi Kashihara Embraced the Faith
When Genjiro returned to Muya in early September, Rev. Tosa requested him to become the heir and adopted son of Tomokichi Kashihara, a member of the board of directors at Myodo Auxiliary Church.
Myodo at the time had 500 followers and was a dominant presence among Muya’s affiliates church. As Tomokichi Kashihara’s physical condition was becoming critical, the matter that he did not have an heir weighed heavily on Rev. Tosa’s mind. The date set for Genjiro to be adopted was September 17.
Now to describe who Tomokichi Kashihara was, he was a fishmonger in Bandai-cho, Tokushima City. A handsome and generous man, he also was a fervent practitioner of a school of esoteric Shingon that traced itself to Saint Teia of the Konchi Falls. It is said he was endowed with the ability to cast the paralysis spell of Kongo Fudo Myo-O. Although it is unclear how the spell was cast, it is assumed that by concentrating and shouting out a command, Tomokichi could paralyze a person. He also performed other incantations. After a day’s work, he visited his master near Konchi Falls, which must have been a round trip of at least 24 kilometers (14.64 mi.) of mountain road. He is said to have had an ample amount of physical and mental stamina.
As such was the case, Tomokichi had a unique take on personal faith. People began to convert to Tenrikyo one by one near where he lived, with a confraternity director named Yasutaro Terauchi at the helm.
At first, Tomokichi was against Tenrikyo. Since he had a gutsy nature, he issued a challenge, saying: “How can this Tenrikyo of Terauchi’s cure diseases? Come on and test your abilities against mine!”
In the spring of 1889, Rev. Tosa happened to come to Tokushima City for salvation work. He stopped by Terauchi’s house and asked, “Have you been able to gain many followers?”
“Truth be told, there is a fishmonger named Tomokichi Kashihara who lives next door and is totally against us. I can’t do anything about him.”
“You are blaming someone for being against you, but this is happening because the cause is actually on your side. You may be engaging in missionary work and saving people through Tenrikyo, but there must be something that you are failing to implement on a usual basis. Are you really following God’s path? Might you be drowning yourself in liquor or sexual desires? If that’s the case, it’s only a given that this fishmonger is against you.”
Terauchi was overwhelmed, for Rev. Tosa’s suggestion had apparently hit the mark. Rev. Tosa then said that he wanted to meet this person by all means. Suddenly, Rev. Tosa and Tomokichi Kashihara made their first meeting at Terauchi’s house.
The air was tense at their first meeting, like a match between two sumo wrestlers. Tomokichi thought, “Ha, so this is the chief of Tenrikyo in Awa! There’s no way I’m going to lose to such a person!”
Rev. Tosa was saved from certain death on two occasions and forged his iron will after giving everything up to engage in missionary work. He cut an imposing figure of a sailor who was disciplined on the high seas.
The two men glared at each other without speaking a word for 20 minutes. They both quickly realized that the other was not an ordinary person.
It was the younger Rev. Tosa who finally broke the silence and quietly said: “According to what I’ve heard, you are a disciple of the master from Konchi Falls. I have no idea what kind of austerities you have done, but according to the teachings of Tenri-O-no-Mikoto that I place my faith in, until now, various incantations and magical rites have been permitted. But these will no longer have any effect from now on. We are taught that it is not the incantations or magical rites that are effective but the true sincerity of the heart that saves people. So, I’d like for you do conduct a test. It is said you are acquainted with the paralysis spell of Fudo Myo-O. Won’t you try it on me? If the spell works, I’ll quit Tenrikyo to follow you. But if the spell has no effect, I’d like for you to listen to what I have to say instead.”
While saying so, Rev. Tosa clenched his fist and poised himself as if to strike Tomokichi.
- Next installment in this series: The Beginning of Myodo Auxiliary Church