The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 116–120) by Koji Sato, professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
All Days Are Lucky Days
In Japan today it is customary to plan a wedding on an auspicious day and avoid certain days that are considered unlucky. The same goes for funerals, as certain days are considered inappropriate. Such long-held customs emerged when the Chinese calendar that was brought to Japan took on a life of its own and began to regulate the lives of the Japanese people.
According to the imperial history Nihon shoki, the first calendar was introduced to Japan about the same time Buddhism was introduced, in the mid-6th century during the rule of Emperor Kinmei. It is said that a “calendar specialist” had come at that time from the Korean kingdom of Paekche.
The actual calendar that came into use was introduced a short time later, during the “Taika reforms.” A divination office was created to oversee and manage calendars on top of specialized fields such as astronomy and astrology.
In 2003, large numbers of narrow wooden tablets were excavated at the Ishigami Historic Ruins in Asuka Village, Nara Prefecture. Among these tablets was a calendar from the sixth year of the reign of Empress Jito (692), which aroused much excitement. It marked the first time an actual “Genka calendar,” created during the Liu Song Southern Dynasty (420–479), was ever found. This Genka calendar not only marked the days as calculated by “the ten heavenly stems” and “12 early branches,” but also marked each day as either lucky or unlucky.
This find means that the Japanese were already choosing which days to conduct events as early as the Asuka period (538–720). Knowledge of which days were potentially good or bad, lucky or unlucky, on top of days that would either bring about fortune or misfortune was considered important for anyone who tried to rule the country. The origin of the word “hijiri” (meaning “Emperor” or “sage”) is said to come from the Japanese for “know the day” [日知り].
The custom of picking the right day is not limited to the East; it is done in Western cultures as well. One can see this in how Friday the 13th is detested because it is seen as an ominous day.
But Oyasama said:
“There is not a single day which you ought to complain about. All days are lucky days. People choose a lucky day for a wedding or for raising [the ridge-beam of] a house. But the luckiest day is the day when everybody is spirited in mind.”
She taught the ways how each day was lucky as follows:
1st: It begins [Tsuitachi: Hajimaru]
2nd: Abundance [Futsuka: Tappuri]
3rd: Nourished [Mikka: Mi ni tsuku]
4th: Happiness comes [Yokka (shi): Shi-awase yo naru]
5th: Providence comes forth [Itsuka: Ri o fuku]
6th: Providence settles [Muika (roku): Roku dai osamaru]
7th: Nothing to worry about [Nanoka: Nanni mo yu koto nai]
8th: Expanding in all directions [Yoka (hachi): Happo hirogaru]
9th: Suffering disappears [Kokonoka (ku): Ku ga naku naru]
10th: Sufficiency [Toka (ju): Jubun]
11th: Sufficiently it begins [Ju-ichi-nichi: Jubun hajimaru]
12th: Sufficiently abundant [Ju-ni-nichi: Jubun tappuri]
13th: Sufficiently nourished [Ju-san-nichi: Jubun mi ni tsuku]
(and so forth)
20th: Sufficiently abundant abundance [Hatsuka: Jubun tappuri tappuri]
21st: Sufficiently abundant it begins [Niju-ichi-nichi: Jubun tappuri hajimaru]
(and so forth)
30th: Sufficiently abundant, abundant abundance [Sanju-nichi: jubun tappuri tappuri tappuri]
“Thirty days make a month, twelve months make a year. There is not a single unlucky day in the whole year.”
The original Japanese has a lot of alliteration, which gives it a quality of a counting song. But there are a few exceptions here. To explain, the Chinese character for “one” used to write “first” (一日) can also be read “hajime” “beginning” or “to begin”).
I believe that “abundance” (tappuri) is connected with the “second” (futsuka or futatsu) because there is a word tafutafu that is used to signify fullness.
Lastly, to explain “roku dai” from the sixth can be interpreted to refer the six elements in Buddhism (earth, water, fire, wind, heaven, and consciousness). I believe that we can understand this to represent God’s protection within the body and in the world.
Of all the days there are, there is not a single bad or unlucky day; they are all good or lucky days. Oyasama teaches us what is really important by teaching that, “the luckiest day is the day when everybody is spirited in mind.”
The mind is none other than what God gave us to use freely as we wish, as taught by the phrase, “The mind alone is yours.” However, when it comes to doing anything, it is natural that difficulties will arise when everything is pushed aside to suit the agenda of a single person.
What is important in any matter is for each person to come together and become spirited as everyone moves toward a single goal. When this is accomplished, there ought to be no doubt that such a day will prove to be a “lucky day.”
- Next installment in this series: Merit That is Not To Be Seen By the Eye
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.