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.
Tomokichi Kashihara’s Twilight Years
Tomokichi established a church three years after embracing the faith and helped Myodo achieve outstanding growth by establishing seven subsidiary churches in six years. Yet in the late summer of 1895, Tomokichi became bedridden and by September his condition became critical. A Divine Direction was delivered on September 19 regarding his situation and contained the following instruction: “It may be impossible for him to joyously accept his physical disorder. However, by recognizing [his causality] and joyously accepting his condition, he can express repentance for his previous lives.”
Those who heard the Direction were filled with sorrow, interpreting God’s words to mean that Tomokichi could not be saved.
When one considers the superhuman effort Tomokichi dedicated after he converted to Tenrikyo, one cannot find any cause that even suggested he had to pass away at age 44, at the prime of his life. When one examines his life before he embraced the faith, he may have had some dust of the mind since he was handsome and not necessarily hard-pressed for money. Yet the previous passage from the Divine Directions suggest that the cause stems from a previous life and that it was necessarily recognize this and joyously accept the situation (tanno).
This was a major knot for both Myodo Auxiliary Church and the Kashihara family. Although the foundation of the church may have been built, everyone was still in the midst of hardship and no one had yet spiritually matured to the point where they had the iron will to live exclusively for God. Tomokichi had rented a room at 40 sen a month and only possessed the barest essentials for life. Further, his only daughter Ko was still 16 and may have sensed that there was nothing but darkness and gloom lying ahead.
Rev. Tosa neither harbored nor expressed a single complaint while this was unfolding. As he watched Tomokichi intently conveying God’s teachings to people assembled at his sickbed, he felt that if there was nothing that could prevent Tomokichi from returning his body, he at least wanted him to pass away happily. As members of Myodo Auxiliary Church also made a request for a husband to be found for Ko, he made the decision to immediately find a male heir to be adopted into the Kashihara family.
It was a traumatic prospect for Muya Branch Church to lose Tomokichi. Thus, his heir could not be anyone. Rev. Tosa felt there was only one man who was qualified — Genjiro Tenma who finished his stint as Muya’s seinen No. 1 and had left for a missionary expedition to Ishimatsu.
If one were to base the marriage proposal on conventional wisdom, it appeared that Genjiro was going out of his way to subject himself to hardship. His relatives fiercely objected, saying that the two families weren’t even in the same league. It is imagined that Rev. Tosa was more concerned if Genjiro could spiritually mature enough so that he could hold his own as a Tenrikyo missionary with Tomokichi.
Genjiro was 21 at the time. Five years had passed since he embraced the faith at age 16. There was not much difference in the amount of time he spent in Tenrikyo compared to Tomokichi. Although Genjiro proved himself as an excellent seinen, when it came to his experience as a missionary, he had barely begun. Tomokichi, on the other hand, had poured his efforts into receiving heaven’s blessings as if life depended on it. From the standpoint of the environments in which they were raised, their respective causalities, and their personalities, they were completely different. It was still up the air whether he was a man who had the capability or the muscle to take over for Tomokichi and carry Myodo on his shoulders.
Yet the situation was urgent. When the marriage proposal more or less settled together, Genjiro was called to return from Ishimatsu. It had been decided that he would become the heir to the Kashihara household.
When Genjiro was a seinen, while he heard about Tomokichi and met him on a few occasions, he never had an opportunity to speak with him. If anything, Genjiro considered him to be an unapproachable and ferocious person. Genjiro was incredibly tense as he headed to the Kashihara household.
Now that his life was almost over, Tomokichi dedicated everything he owned to the path. He had no money left, had sold his home, and did not even become head minister. Although he had nothing left, his heart filled with joy when Rev. Tosa brought him his heir.
- Next installment in this series: A Young Couple