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.
Myodo Splits from Muya
The Muya Grand Church Relocation and Construction Committee first met in July 1916. The biggest problem was finding a suitable site.
There was no space within property in Suita to expand further. Although someone suggested relocating the church to Tokushima, in the end, Rev. Tosa did not agree it was good to leave the area where Muya was originally established. It was decided to find a property in the outlying area.
The present property in Kizu was discovered. The property was bought in 1917, but because World War I caused prices of goods to skyrocket, the groundbreaking was delayed.
Construction finally began with the groundbreaking ceremony on November 23, 1920. A construction spanning *63棟1300坪 was undertaken, which was the largest scale construction sanctuary that could be undertaken at the time.
Genjiro took on the heavy responsibility as the committee chairman for the construction project. For Genjiro, the task was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to express his indebtedness to Rev. Tosa. When he thought how he had not been saved when he became ill in Karatsu and would not have had participated in the current construction, a motivation to carry it out even at the cost of his life welled up from the bottom of his heart.
It was also the beginning of the season toward the 40th Anniversary of Oyasama. The 40th Anniversary was significant in that it set up a stage for Tenrikyo young men to take a decisive role. Another important venture was the double-the-membership drive. It was an attempt to increase the number of churches from roughly 5,000 to 10,000 in a single swoop. Tenrikyo as a whole was riding on a rising wave of momentum.
The two powerhouses behind the double-the-membership drive were headquarters executive officials Kichitaro Matsumura and Michioki Masuno. Yet there is no evidence that Genjiro was directly influenced by either of them. Genjiro merely advanced forward while earnestly holding up Rev. Tosa as his standard of faith. As a result, Muya, which had a little over 250 subsidiary churches when the construction began, had more than doubled its congregation to 600 when the construction was completed.
The number of workers hired to work on Muya’s construction was over 85,000. About the same number of people contributed their hinokishin. However, despite such momentum, the construction left a large debt.
On August 1925, the dedication service for Muya’s new sanctuary was conducted. In March that year, due to a directive from Church Headquarters, Myodo was to be split from Muya to become a church directly supervised by Church Headquarters. Myodo had 174 subsidiary churches at the time. Genjiro was shocked when he heard of the plan from Muya. The first thing that came to his mind that he wanted the split only to occur after he had fulfilled his duty as the chairman of the construction committee.
However, since it was a directive from Church Headquarters, he accepted and decided to offer Hofu and its 44 subsidiary churches to Muya. Even after the split took place, Genjiro asked to continue his duties as a church officer of Muya until the shortfall from the construction was taken care of.
Genjiro’s genuine struggles began after he turned to take care of the shortfall from the grand construction. Unlike the construction itself, it was hard to arouse enthusiasm toward the task of dealing with the construction costs after it was over. Though Genjiro might muster all his sincerity, people’s hearts are not so easily moved. Genjiro scrambled about whenever he could and even went without meals and without sleep to the point he earned the nickname “Mr. Shortfall.” However, it is believed that Genjiro sowed the seeds during this time that later merited his promotion to a headquarters executive official.
- Next installment in this series: Wrapping Up the Shortfall