The following is a translation of Part 3 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the March 2003 (No. 411) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35.
Part 3: “I Placed a Bridge That Leads Eight Hundred Kilometers Ahead”
In April 1880, Osaka Prefecture recruited Chuzaburo Koda and dispatched him to the Niigata Prefecture Agricultural Experiment Station and put him in charge to oversee its tilling and cultivation activities. He was 54 at the time. He left for Niigata on a one-year contract and returned to his home province of Yamato on his year-end vacation. During this time his second daughter Riki had contracted an eye disease and it was considered only a matter of time before she lost her eyesight.
After the New Year, Yonosuke Okada (later renamed Yosaburo Miyamori), a neighbor from his village, came to convey God’s teachings. Riki was able to see after Yonosuke performed a service prayer of three sittings. 1
Then, on March 5, 1881, Chuzaburo went with Riki and his wife to return to Jiba for the first time and stayed for seven days to engage in prayer. Chusaburo’s wife Saki, wishing for her beloved daughter to be saved, made the following prayer: “I will offer one of my eyes, so please save at least one of the eyes of my daughter in return.”
Miraculously, that night Saki suddenly lost her sight in one eye and her daughter Riki completely recovered her sight in one of her eyes. Chuzaburo Koda was greatly moved, saying to himself, “Miracles do indeed happen,” signaling his decision to deepen his faith.
About this time Chuzaburo was inundated with letters from the Niigata Prefecture Agricultural Experiment Station that urged him to return to his post. Although he sent a letter of resignation since he worried over his daughter’s illness and felt that he was too old to go back to faraway Niigata where even the steam trains didn’t go, no one from Niigata would accept his resignation.
Chuzaburo went to Oyasama for advice. She said to him:
“Even if you stay or go, your daughter will recover. Unless you cross this bridge, it will be of no use. There is no one but you to cross it. On this path I placed a bridge that leads 800 kilometers ahead because I wish for you to cross it.”
This gave Chuzaburo Koda the resolve to go back to Niigata.
Oyasama stood up and packed a shrine, some packets of sacred roasted barley flour (hattaiko), a wooden tablet inscribed with the divine name Tenri-O-no-Mikoto tightly in a box Herself, wrapped it, and tied it on his back. Chuzaburo Koda left for Niigata accompanied by God on March 15, 1881.
Chuzaburo stayed at the Agricultural Experiment Station and danced and sang the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service, in his spare time. When one of his students came to say he was troubled because pests had infested the crops, he went in the middle of the field and began singing the Mikagura-uta and performed the service.
Everyone who saw this was astonished and laughed at him. Later, however, not a single insect was left on the crop; they all had disappeared.
Cholera was also prevalent in Niigata that year. Most of the 120 or so students at the Agricultural Experiment Station had contracted the disease. Yet they were saved when Chuzaburo sipped some water and sprayed it on them. Due to the miraculous blessings that appeared, he helped convert several dozen follower-households.
Reference: Tomoji Takano 高野友治. Gozonmei no koro.
- Next installment in this series: 4. The Conversion of Tokichi Izumita (1 of 2)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Chuzaburo Koda 鴻田忠三郎 (1828–1903) laid the foundation of what would become Tenrikyo Niigata Daikyokai 天理教新潟大教会 (grand church), which was established in 1895 and currently oversees 66 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 53 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”).
Rev. Yosaburo Miyamori 宮森与三郎 (1857–1936; also written 與三郎) served as second head minister of Umetani Daikyokai 梅谷大教会 and was among the first individuals to be appointed as a Honbu-in (Headquarters executive official) in 1908 (Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 869–870).
Further suggested reading
- A different account of the above story appears in Anecdotes of Oyasama 95 “The Path of Eight Hundred Kilometers” (pp. 79–80). Rev. Chuzaburo Koda also is featured in Anecdotes 144 “The Virtue that Reaches Heaven” (p. 116).
- Takano Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 75–78; pp. 110–114.