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.
What Makes a Nation Great
Genjiro practiced early rising and worked hard. He considered doing the opposite — rising late and refusing to work — amounted to harboring the dust of miserliness. This dust often manifests as an affliction of the stomach.
According to the national census in 1921, the place with the highest longevity rate in Japan was Itano County, Tokushima Prefecture. A majority of the population of 120,000 were farmers. The census results disclosed that there were 64 centenarians (23 men, 41 women) and 1,741 people over 80 years old (725 men, 1,016 women). The area was known for its barley diet, early rising, and hard labor. The core of Muya’s congregation was centered in this area.
However, many young women who grew up on farms in the area were already beginning to express their hatred for farmers and declared that they would rather have a merchant with an eye missing for a husband. Young men also disliked hard labor and preferred western clothes and a job with a salary. When both seeds and seedbeds alike are filled with hedonism in this way, people’s tastebuds begin to favor gourmet foods and wear fancy clothes. People readily spend money on themselves while not caring at all about supporting their parents, leading to a rash of unfilial behavior.
Such weak, selfish thinking leads one to liquor, the shamisen, and geishas. Generally, red-light districts are decorated beautifully outside, but what goes on inside cannot be called so. People who are employed there rise late and are lazy. The seeds of pleasure-seekers gather at wanton seedbeds, which give rise to paralysis, sexual disease, lung disease, and psychological disorders.
Material wealth does not make a nation great. Genjiro believed that a strong and silent ethos was what made a nation great.
Oyasama is said to have once taught someone that there is no need for any small talk at the Residence. Any talk about the Beatles or the (Yomiuri) Giants was unnecessary. In Her 90 years, Oyasama never went sightseeing even once. Genjiro modeled his life after Hers.
In Genjiro’s case, he couldn’t make the same claim to have never gone sightseeing. He did happen to stop by the Nachi Waterfall and Matsushima. However, he was accompanying someone at these times. When he was on his rounds alone on a mission tour, there were never any mountains or rivers on his itinerary.
He never saw a play or a motion picture.
Poetry, music, and theater appeal more strongly to the emotions than to human reason. Those emotions happen to be unstable; there is a tendency for these emotions to be too ecstatic or too tragic. Because of this, they cannot be said to be healthy for one’s spiritual stability.
Pascal cautioned against the theater, claiming that it stirred human passions and prevented one from approaching closer God. Plato is said to have thought along the same lines. Regarding this point, Genjiro did not necessarily hold any bizarre or one-sided opinions.
When an elderly woman head minister received a television, Genjiro went to watch it. He found it very entertaining but quit watching from that moment. He said, “If I kept watching something like that, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to go to do salvation work anymore.”
Genjiro could not comprehend the deluge of explicit sexual expressions appearing after the war. During a sermon at Kagawa Grand Church in August 1953, he said:
They’re quite popular these days, these motion pictures. Generally, when I pass by they have these signs and pictures of a man and a woman close together. They have the word — what is it? Kitsch? Kiss? — written on there.
It’s absolutely ridiculous to think they’re asking for 100 yen for the chance to see a man and a woman kitsching.
- Next installment in this series: God’s Workings and Blessings