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.
The Beginning of the Construction
The 30th Anniversary of Oyasama was conducted on January 25, 1916. The number of worshipers returning for the 30th Anniversary was rather few. Genjiro felt there was a cloud at the bottom of his heart due to the passing away for rebirth of the first Shinbashira and the detainment of Headquarters Executive Official Kichitaro Matsumura at Nara Prison.
Genjiro returned to Tokushima on the 29th with a pilgrimage group of 160 people on the steamboat No. 6 of the Awa Kyodo Kisen Corporation. Around 5:00 a.m. the next day, a serious accident took place.
About 4 kilometers (2.5 mi.) offshore of Komatsushima Port was a dangerous area known as Okameiso. The steamship took a wrong course and drove into some rocks.
There was a tremendous sound and the boat rocked. Genjiro awoke and ran up to the deck and saw that water was rushing into the engine room.
The emergency whistle howled in the dark sea. Fortunately, the steamship stayed on the rock and before long several rescue vessels had arrived and picked everyone up. As the rescue ship headed to the port, Genjiro, soaked from the cold spray of the sea, remembered God’s words, “Unburned by fire and unsinkable in water.” He could not help but feel relieved that he gave his best efforts for the 30th Anniversary.
The next day, Genjiro gathered 70 principal people involved who were still at Myodo Auxiliary Church, shared his insight regarding the shipwreck they encountered, and warned them of becoming complacent.
To explain what this meant, Muya’s course of action for the next three to four years was to turn its exclusive attention to missionary work after having devoted its full effort toward the construction of the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters. The majority of Muya’s subsidiary churches took this as a message to take a break for a while before resuming Even Genjiro couldn’t bring himself to say that he hadn’t had the slightest intention doing so.
Yet the shipwreck made Genjiro deeply reflect that one does not take a breather from God’s business of world salvation. He turned to his top officers and said: “The 30th Anniversary may have ended, but it would be a mistake to think that we are finished with God’s business. God is teaching us through this great misfortune we just went through that being complacent will cost us our lives. I have made up my mind. I would like all of you to make a resolution to take a step further in your faith when you hereafter encounter an illness or other trouble. Or, I should say, I’d like for us to make such a resolution before we have to encounter an illness or other trouble.”
However, everyone wanted a rest, for they felt that people had limits to what they were willing to do. Even with Genjiro’s conviction, they felt it was hard to prevent the mood from drifting in such a direction.
God then revealed something that was a complete 180 degrees from human sentiment. In April that year, Rev. Unosuke Tosa succumbed to a severe liver disease. At the time, Unosuke had become a headquarters executive official and was working at Jiba. Rev. Toshikazu Tosa was Muya’s head minister. Toshikazu was Genjiro’s younger brother, who was adopted from the Tenma household to become heir to the Tosa household. His son, Tadatoshi Tosa, would later become Muya’s fourth head minister and Tenrikyo’s Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs.
Unosuke’s illness greatly shocked Genjiro. On May 6, Unosuke succumbed to a fever once again and his condition appeared to be critical. Headquarters Executive Official Tsuchisaburo Itakura came to administer the Sazuke. He summoned Genjiro and Rev. Shojiro Iwasa to represent Muya’s church officials.
Rev. Itakura said to them: “Although up to 250 churches have sprouted from Rev. Tosa’s single seed of sincerity, Muya’s worship hall is exactly the one since the church was established. Have you thought of building a new worship hall while he his still alive? Rev. Tosa can be saved depending on whether or not you resolve to carry this out.”
Shojiro and Genjiro first made this resolution and prayed as representatives of Muya. Rev. Tosa was then saved in three days and three nights. On this day began a grand task on which Genjiro staked his life to accomplish over the next dozen or so years.
Next installment in this series: Myodo Splits from Muya