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.
Beginning Missionary Work in Karatsu
Genjiro’s expenses for his missionary work in Karatsu were supplied by Myodo Auxiliary Church. Accompanying him was Chosaburo Aki, a 53-year-old missionary well-versed in the Tenrikyo teachings from Kunina Propagation Office1, a subsidiary congregation of Myodo.
The two missionaries took turns carrying their luggage walking the 64 kilometers (40 mi.) to Takamatsu and traveled in steerage from Takamatsu Pier. The ship reached Mojiko on the morning of the third day. They then traveled to Hakata by train and stayed at a cheap lodging house for 7 sen.
From Hakata they proceeded to walk along the shore. Along the shore was one of Japan’s beautiful pine forests, Nijinomatsubara. Karatsu was located beyond this pine forest. They arrived there at four o’clock.
At the time, there were no bridges connecting to Karatsu, so they crossed the Matsuura River by a small rowboat. When they turned around, they gazed at Mt. Kagami, which is mentioned in the legend of Princess Sayo of Matsuura. The mountain was shaped like a turned over soup bowl. They saw the ruins of a castle on the other shore. It was around sundown, and a murder of crows cawed their way to the ruins they made their home.
The place they reached was named Funamiya. They looked for cheap lodging to put down their luggage and stay the night. Genjiro then went straight to see Karatsu’s deputy mayor Harufusa Kawashima, the man his older brother Eki’emon converted to the path.
The Kawashima home was located in Sakurababa. It was a property that once belonged to a samurai clan. A low-growing variety of dwarf bamboo the locals called chinchiku sasa beautifully grew around the property in place of a fence. Deputy Mayor Kawashima readily agreed to the missionaries’ request to provide a rental to live in.
The house they lived in is now located near the Funamiya Post Office. (The Karatsu Bowling Company) Karatsu has changed completely after successive landfill projects, but at the time the house was near the ocean. They rented an ocean-side two-story home measuring 13.22 m2 (142.3 ft2) for 1 yen a month.
The missionaries immediately went to buy an earthen pot and rice bowls. They also borrowed some bedding. For the moment they got by with daikon radishes and 1050 g (2.31 lbs.) of rice a day. In place of pickled vegetables, they chopped daikon leaves finely into rice-size pieces. They refrained from using soy sauce. In this way, they attempted to keep their living expenses to a bare minimum.
They discussed how they would begin their missionary work and decided that they needed to get the word out that two Tenrikyo missionaries were here. They entered a snack store and bought rice crackers for 1 sen. They told the lady running the store that they were missionaries who came all the way from Tokushima to spread God’s path and asked if there were any ill people that needed to be saved. They visited four or five other homes in Nishikaratsu and the day came to an end.
On their third day, they continued to look for ill people to cure. People shouted and threw them out their homes on a daily basis. In the north, they went from Chinzei-Nagoya to Yobuko. In the south, they went all the way down to the Saga Plains, but even after a month their searching turned up nothing.
Compared to Tokushima, the countryside around Karatsu was sparsely populated. While the countryside has since become prosperous and famous for its tangerines, people there lived in dire poverty at the time.
In mid-December, Genjiro went to a village at the foot of Mt. Kagami. From early morning he searched each home for anyone who was ill. In the seventh house he visited, he met a bedridden old woman. He spoke to her and told him she suffered from chest pain for the last seven years. As he spoke to her, she asked him to pray for her. Genjiro took off his straw sandals and spoke to her about the teaching of a thing lent, a thing borrowed. After he administered the Sazuke, she smiled and said she felt a little better.
“Your manner of speaking is different. Where did you come from?”
“I come from Tokushima, Awa Province.”
“Ah, the Province where they have the Jurobei puppet theater. Why did you come here?”
“I was saved through Tenrikyo, so I am here to spread God’s teachings as my way of giving thanks.”
“Such a difficult task! And you’re so young! I’ll have faith too so please come to visit.”
Genjiro was successful in spreading the fragrance on the 40th day after he left Tokushima. The woman recovered, but Buddhism had a firm foothold in the area. The headman applied pressure, refusing to allow Genjiro to enter the village, saying that he couldn’t have Tenrikyo make any inroads here.
However, the old woman appeared quite pleased. She promised to introduce another ill person living in another village.
- Next installment in this series: Over Plains and Over Mountains
- Currently Kunina Grand Church. ↩