Blog (07 July 2009)

Happy Tanabata, everyone, and Happy 77th to the former (third) Shinbashira Zenye Nakayama!

I decided to write a general blog for a change… I realize this is my first one in a long time, the first since Christmas 2008, if you can believe that! I admit that my Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama series is taking up much of my time devoted to

Happy Birthday wishes to third Shinbashira Zenye Nakayama

Zenye Nakayama, the former (retired) leader of Tenrikyo was born on what could be considered a particularly auspicious day. Not only was he born on Tanabata, a day associated with making wishes, he was born on July 7 in Showa 7 (1932).

That’s three sevens! It’s the jackpot on slot machines. There’s also a kanji composed of three sevens that is a nonstandard way to write “yorokobi” (delight, enjoyment, etc.). In Tenrikyo theology, three sevens brings to mind the Third Section of the Kagura Service, which happens to be repeated in three sets of sevens.

It’s sort of a shame there doesn’t seem to be much celebration to go around in Tenrikyo when it comes to birthdays in general. (Based on my observations, Tanabata is not a holiday that seems to be celebrated that much in Tenrikyo either.)

Birthdays in Japan seem to tend toward small celebrations, limited to the nuclear family. But there are certain special ages that happen to be exceptions. A 77th birthday is particularly significant that it even has its own special name (kiju or “delight/longevity”). Yet there are no signs of any special birthday bash for the former Shinbashira Zenye Nakayama. (Maybe there is a private one, one where the general congregation is not invited to.)

After this morning’s “manabi” (morning practice of the Service dance) someone wished a Happy Birthday to him. Some people followed this with a “Omedeto gozaimasu,” but nothing else. (Most people did not seem to know what was going on.)

No applause. No singing of “Happy Birthday.” I honesty thought to myself: Geez, what’s the deal? The atmosphere was really somber… it’s the former Shinbashira’s Birthday, for Oyasamasakes! Lighten up you guys. Oh well.

Get well prayers and wishes to Rev. Jiro Morishita and Mrs. Robin Noji

Now on to a more sober message. I’m quite late at expressing best wishes to Rev. Jiro Morishita and Mrs. Robin Noji (not to mention that it might not be fully appropriate to do it in a very, very public manner like this), but I want to go ahead anyway.

These two special individuals have made great contributions to the path in the United States, and I do pray and hope that everyone’s well-wishes are enough to allow them to recuperate fully so they can continue their much-needed efforts. Rev. Jiro Morishita and Mrs. Robin Noji, our prayers are with you and your families! God bless.