A Pair of Folding Fans

The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 130–134) 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.

A Pair of Folding Fans

Isaburo Masui married Naragiku Nisho in 1876. Oyasama arranged the marriage. They were both from Izushichijo Village, and since they also frequently visited the Residence from a relatively early time, they knew each other quite well. Oyasama proposed the marriage after discerning the sincerity of each.

In 1864, when Isaburo was 15 years old, he made three round trips to the Residence from his home (a distance of five and a half kilometers) with the single-hearted desire to have his mother be saved from a life-threatening illness. Although Oyasama told him, “I am sorry, Isaburo, in spite of your request she cannot be saved,” he could not help but ask again and again. At his third visit, Oyasama said:

“The child comes for the sake of his parent to ask that the life, which cannot be saved, be saved at whatever cost. This is sincerity itself. If sincere, God will accept.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama 16, “The Child’s Concern for the Parent”

And Isaburo’s mother was saved this way.

In 1875, when Naragiku Nishio was 18 years old, she was enthusiastically spinning yarn at the Residence when Oyasama said to her:

“Dear Naragiku, girls of your age yearn for many things. You are so young, yet faithful in your work. I admire you. There are a lot of things to do in this Residence if you are of the mind to work. While working in this Residence, you will not be able to leave, even if you want to. I recommend that you work as hard as possible when you can.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama 37, “You Are Faithful in Your Work”

When it came to marriages in Yamato Province, it was often customary to observe traditional formalities beginning with a betrothal ceremony (yuino). When the two families asked Oyasama, as the go-between on what to do, She said:

“If the groom’s family brings the betrothal money, then the bride’s family must worry about preparing for the wedding. You need not do such things. Just prepare a pair of folding fans.”

Thus, the families followed Her instructions and prepared a pair of folding fans. The celebration has held in the western ten-tatami mat room of the South Gatehouse where Oyasama lived. When Isaburo and Naragiku exchanged the customary nuptial cups of sake, Oyasama took their hands and said, “Now that it has been finalized (osameta no de), you, Naragiku, will thereby be known as Osame,” and thus Naragiku’s name was changed to Osame.

Wedding ceremonies in the path follow this example when the bride and groom exchange nuptial cups of sake that have been offered to Oyasama. Also, the new bride and groom wear the service kimono as their wedding dress.

Although a bride is allowed to wear her hair or a wig woven in the TakaShimada hairstyle, the custom of wearing a bridal hood (tsuno-kakushi, literally, a “horn-cover”) is not followed. I have heard that this came about because second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama, said, “Even if the bride may have horns, it is best not to hide them.” I have been told that this symbolizes that there should be no wrappings or coverings; a bride and groom are to face one another as they are since they are to become husband and wife.

In March 1877, a year after Isaburo was married, his younger sister Masu followed Oyasama’s suggestion to marry Kamematsu Murata of Senzai Village (now Senzai, a section of Tenri City). On the 26th of the same month, four members of the Masui family — mother Kiku, elder brother Isaburo, his wife Osame, and Masu — returned to the Residence. They brought several delicacies packed a set of stacked lacquered boxes.

Kamematsu, who was 26 at the time, returned to the Residence from Senzai with his parents, Koemon and Ie, bringing with them some sweet rice wine and several delicacies packed in a set of stacked lacquered boxes. In Oyasama’s room in the South Gatehouse, Oyasama first sipped from the sake cup before Kamematsu and Masu exchanged their nuptial cups. At this time Oyasama gave Masu the name Suma. Kamematsu himself was renamed, later taking the name Kosuke.

Anecdotes of Oyasama 50, “Kosuke and Suma”

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Ceremonial functions such as weddings and funerals cost money. It is often difficult to choose what gift to buy in return for the money one receives at these events. There are some people who insist that it is good enough to buy return gifts in bulk.

These days, people have the option of choosing what gift they want in return from a catalogue. This has certainly made things a little easier, but some people say these catalogues contain nothing they happen to want.

The second Shinbashira took the money he received at his wedding and established the Ichiretsukai Foundation to pay for the education of the children and grandchildren of Tenrikyo ministers. He called on followers to donate their return gifts from weddings, funerals, and memorial services to the foundation.

Today, many thousands of students receive a scholarship from the Ichiretsukai Foundation. I would like to believe such a spirit was born from Oyasama’s teaching of preparing a pair of folding fans.

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.