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 presently incomplete.
The Protagonist and His Supporting Cast
Genjiro became the head minister of Myodo Auxiliary Church in 1900. He was only 26 years old. In the 11th year since he began his faith, Genjiro took charge of Myodo and seven subsidiary churches. Of these, Hofu and Shuto have since become grand churches.
Until Tomokichi Kashihara repeatedly solicited him to be the first head minister of Myodo, Kunizo Masaki served as the general manager of Arii, a store dealing in indigo cloth in Nii Village. He was highly trusted by the store owner. He engaged in salvation work on the side and the majority of the people he helped save came from the Banshu and 三但 regions of Hyogo Prefecture. Kyuhei Kontani, later the first head minister of Shikito Grand Church, was one of them.
He became seriously ill in 1900. A Divine Direction was delivered on his behalf. He immediately recovered when he made the resolve to step down as head minister after receiving this Direction. He later became a church officer at Muya and worked at Muya’s followers dormitory in Jiba. He was 63 years old at the time.
Genjiro was selected to be Rev. Masaki’s successor. On the October 27 Divine Direction regarding his installation, Genjiro received a set of instructions that was rather long for an auxiliary church head minister from the outlying provinces. The content of the Divine Direction was as follows:
- Matters will likely settle with Genjiro’s installation
- Concerning Genjiro himself, there were the words, “I grant you the truth of mind that renews from now on.” This instruction may be taken to mean that while matters will settle with Genjiro’s installation, what happens next was more important, so it was necessary for him to carry on from now with firm resolve.
Genjiro thought to himself after receiving these words, “Although I have taken on great responsibility as the head minister of Myodo without necessarily seeking it out, this was not because I deserve the position based on my merit. I have become head minister due to the merit and virtue sown and dedicated by my adoptive father Tomokichi Kashihara. It’s not as if I had established a church. Neither have I dedicated as much hinokishin as other church officers or head ministers at Muya. I have become head minister without undergoing any hardship. I must not allow myself to become complacent.
“I cannot do the same things as everyone else from now. If the typical person works two hours, I must work four to five hours instead. There’s no other path for me than to work between two to three times more than everyone else.”
Genjiro vigilantly adhered to the resolution he made at the time. The going-away gift his older brother Eki’emon gave him, “Never forget your straw sandals,” was seared into his mind. This was his advice to Genjiro to always be mindful that he was a Tenrikyo missionary first and foremost before anything else.
Genjiro adhered to these words, wearing straw sandals with his cotton kimono whenever he went on mission tours to nurture his subsidiary churches. The streets he walked were not the paved streets we have today, but roads full of pebbles and stones. On both days hot and cold, he wore nothing on his head but the open sky. Genjiro dubbed himself, “Ao tenjo” (blue dome of the sky).
Genjiro was able to accomplish this because he had assistance in the form of Tomokichi Hayashi, who was on the church board of directors.
Tomokichi Hayashi was the husband of Kiku’s older sister, making him Genjiro’s uncle. He was 27 years older. He was led into the faith by Tomokichi Kashihara. When the Kashihara family began a life exclusively devoted to the path by moving into Myodo, Tomokichi quit his job selling oil and was a constant presence at the church. Thereafter, until he passed away for rebirth in 1930 at the age of 84, he looked after matters in Genjiro’s absence quite admirably. One would correctly say that Myodo was nurtured equally by Genjiro’s merit and Tomokichi’s care. It was greatly fortunate for Genjiro and Myodo that they had such a wonderful supporting cast.
- Next installment in this series: “Do Not Forget Your Straw Sandals”