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.
Over Plains and Over Mountains
After having been able to save someone after 40 days, the path opened up swiftly, like how an overcast sky scatter away to reveal a clear blue day. On New Year’s they only had 3 kg (6.61 lbs.) of glutinous rice, but by January 20, several households had newly converted. When they held a home service in Harufusa Kawashima’s house on January 26, 13 worshipers came.
Around this time, Harufusa’s pregnant daughter came home for a visit when she suddenly felt labor pains. A servant ran to call a midwife, but when Chosaburo Aki administered the Sazuke, she smoothly gave birth. Everyone present was startled and Tenrikyo began to gain a reputation of being a faith that worked wonders.
The path that Genjiro paved then opened southward from Karatsu to Mutabe. Although little trace of it remains, the area’s coal pits was once a flourishing industry. The path then spread to the Saga Plains from Nishikaratsu where the Karatsu Railway Line now runs.
The Saga Plains was a fertile breadbasket. Genjiro went to engage in salvation work from Saga to Hizenyamaguchi, Omachi, Kitagata, and even to Yanagawa in neighboring Fukuoka Prefecture. In the spring he moved his missionary base in the area.
During his days as a missionary in Karatsu, Genjiro walked constantly. He repeatedly returned from engaging in salvation work at night only after the roosters began to crow. Other times Chosaburo Aki and others who accompanied him fell asleep while walking and woke up after they had fell into ditch and gotten themselves all wet.
Genjiro rented a six-mat (9.917 m2 or 106.7 ft2) room in Hagi-cho in Kitagata and began missionary work in the area. Yet a major landowner showed opposition and issued a command not to house any Tenrikyo missionaries. In the middle of a heavy downpour, he left for a cheap lodging house in Yanagawa 8 kilometers (4.88 mi.) away.
On one occasion, a group of youngsters stuffed him in a red blanket and mocked him by spinning his small body like a top. The roads along the pine forest of Nijinomatsubara Genjiro that frequently walked are still scary to walk along at night.
Back when Genjiro did his missionary work in Karatsu, it snowed far more frequently that it does now. He became soaking wet walking through the snow. Although he often stopped over followers’ homes at night, he remained standing on the earthen floor unless he was there to administer the Sazuke. Even when followers asked him to come in, he often left without warming himself by the fire.
Genjiro once traveled from Saga to Karatsu, a distance of 48 kilometers (30 mi.) without eating. Although he stayed the night en route, it amounted to a 36-hour fast, the longest he ever went through. He made it a point not to subject himself to extremes.
A person once claimed to have seen Genjiro walking past the road in front of Kumamoto Grand Church on his way to administer the Sazuke to someone in Hyuga Province. However, Genjiro’s records are not clear whether this may or not have happened.
Yet if this were true, it was a trip on foot from Karatsu to Miyazaki Prefecture that traversed Kyushu practically from end to end — a distance of roughly 270 kilometers (171 mi.). There were steep mountains along the way. If he did make this trip, it meant he must have simply walked it and was oblivious to any fatigue, hunger, or anxiety he may have felt traveling across unfamiliar terrain. His missionary efforts in Karatsu must have been a succession of tense events like this.
In his later years, when Genjiro ministered at the Main Sanctuary, he cured many paraplegics. Yet he cured many paraplegics during his time in Karatsu as well. Among those he cured included a person suffering from rheumatism and a woman unable to stand because of post-delivery complications. It may be worthy to note that the first person his adoptive father Tomokichi Kashihara cured was a paraplegic.
On the day Tomokichi returned from attending a Besseki lecture, an attendant brought a paraplegic to his store. The person stood up when Tomokichi conveyed the teaching that the body is a thing lent by God. After experiencing God’s workings first-hand in this way, Tomokichi then boldly set about on his missionary efforts. When taking this into consideration, one can conclude there was indeed an intimate connection between the two men.
Chosaburo Aki took new converts on return pilgrimages to Jiba. In March, there were two. In July, eight people returned to Jiba. Chosaburo was different from the youthful and passionate Genjiro. Occasionally, he liked to enjoy some time to himself, which he did things such as displaying a bonsai tree outside his room. There were times when such behavior rankled Genjiro. Chosaburo nevertheless proved to be a good partner, for he was passionate about going with him to Karatsu at age of 53.
The foundation for a congregation was laid that summer. In August, Genjiro received directions for him to return to Myodo Auxiliary Church. The one-year memorial service for his adoptive father Tomokichi was to be held and Ko was expecting.
Genjiro returned from Karatsu by a boat to Tadotsu, Kagawa. It then took him two days to travel 92 kilometers (57 mi.) to reach Myodo on foot. He caused a fuss for having bringing 17 lice with him.
It is a weary task of having to travel on the seas in such hot weather. This was his first round trip between Karatsu and Shikoku. It is unknown how many times he made the trip across the Seto Island Sea.
Many years later, when several dozen followers from Shuto came to Myodo for the first time, they had a rough time on the ocean. After someone had grumbled they were never coming to Shikoku again, Genjiro said: “I’ve made this trip at least 70 times until now. Had I not, you wouldn’t be here today.” With this, the grumbling stopped.
Ko gave birth to a girl. Genjiro became the father of six boys and six girls by the time he was 45. But at the birth of his first child, the fact that he became a parent apparently still didn’t hit him yet as he merely blurted out, “Huh, she was born pretty quickly, eh?”
Singly devoted to God as he was, Genjiro quickly headed back to Karatsu after only a month at Myodo. Ko may have felt lonely being left behind again, but there was no stopping him. As Genjiro departed in high spirits, no one could have foreseen what fate had in store for him.
- Next installment in this series: Succumbing To a Severe Mental Illness
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