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.
Succumbing To a Severe Mental Illness
Although Genjiro encountered numerous physical hardships, his spirit remained undaunted. On his second New Year’s Day in Karatsu, he was able to prepare 30 kg (66 lbs.) of rice cakes and ten large fish as New Year’s offerings. Several dozen followers had come to worship. Genjiro celebrated New Year’s Day amid laughter. The congregation had grown to the point that they could think about applying to establish a propagation office.
However, just at his moment of triumph Genjiro became ill. In February, he became mentally unstable. Judging from his condition, it is assumed he succumbed to a manic state. Genjiro at one point was no different from a person with a mental disability, which prompted Muya’s Fusajiro Oe and Myodo’s Tomokichi Hayashi to come and take him back to Shikoku.
The men tried to calm Genjiro, who flailed wildly and shouted at the top of his lungs. They stayed over a night at an inn in Hakata. However, Genjiro made so much noise that the other guests complained and they had no choice but to camp out in a pine forest and wrap themselves in blankets. As Tomokichi Hayashi gazed at the stars on that icy night, he was filled with turmoil regarding Myodo’s future.
The next day, they stayed over a night at a follower’s home in Hakata. It took all the effort they could muster to reach Myodo after a painful and miserable boat ride.
When the Kashihara family and members of Myodo Auxiliary Church laid their eyes on Genjiro, they hardly recognized him. Their spirits fell as a result of their shock and distress. They did not stop to ponder what God could be trying to tell them.
In deference of public appearances and because the severity of the situation, Genjiro was shut away in a four-mat (7.44 m2 or 80 ft2) room beside the church’s Foundress’ Sanctuary. His mother rushed to see him and said that burning moxa on his soles might help. There were many people who recommended a smattering of folk remedies.
Tomokichi Hayashi, Genjiro’s uncle and a church officer at Myodo, was filled with anguish. There were no signs of improvement no matter how many times he administered the Sazuke. It appeared that even he couldn’t perceive Genjiro’s condition to be a matter concerning the spiritual growth of Myodo as a whole.
Fusajiro Oe also came to administer the Sazuke. Genjiro could tell he had arrived by his handclaps in the sanctuary, saying “Ah, Muya’s beard worm is here.” When his older brother Eki’emon arrived, he said, “Ah, the sea tiger is here.” Both men were well-known for their facial hair.
Although those at Myodo didn’t want Genjiro to go outside, he occasionally broke away and scrambled outside. He ran around in the rain, shouting, “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.” People then assumed he became ill because of his passionate faith.
Kashihara family lamented to themselves, If only Tomokichi was alive today! If Tomokichi was here, he would have immediately known the cause and had done something to resolve the situation. There was nothing Kiku and Ko could do but to insist that the causality of the Kashihara family didn’t warrant such an outcome.
The Tenma family took back Genjiro, insisting he ought to come home. They had him live in a storehouse. It is unknown who suggested this, but someone claimed Genjiro could be cured if they took a large barrel from a sake shop upside down on top of him. The Tenma family decided to give into this superstition. (There is speculation that this practice was seen as a legitimate method to starve someone to death.)
Rev. Unosuke Tosa rushed to the scene as soon as he heard about this and prevented it from being carried out. When Rev. Tosa brought Genjiro back to Myodo, his flailing suddenly stopped. He then realized that Genjiro had no place to go to at the moment. He wanted to instruct everyone at Myodo and the Tenma family that this psychological disorder was not for Genjiro to bear alone. Yet, as Genjiro’s spiritual parent, he could not help but feel completely responsible for the situation.
He then said: “Do not be concerned. God will heal him. Genjiro is my disciple, so I will take him in. I’ll return him after he gets better. Genjiro, come with me. Please call a rickshaw.”
- Next installment in this series: Man of the Low Valleys