The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 44

The following is a translation of Part 44 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the August 2006 (No. 452) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 44: “God Will Make Everything Work Out”

There was a time when Genjiro Fukaya, the first head minister of Kawaramachi Grand Church, tripped over a hammer when he was still working as a blacksmith and hit his forehead, leaving a large bump on his forehead. Genjiro instantly shouted out, “Oh, how it hurts. How thankful I am, how thankful I am!”

Someone who was nearby asked him what he was thankful for about getting a bump on his head, and he answered, “I am thankful for being able to feel pain.” Truly, words that were worthy of someone who was known as “Thankful Gen-san.”

Also, another time in Fushimi, Genjiro was picked up by a police officer and underwent a series of questioning, and he was asked: “Why are you doing this? Why are you tricking people when you can live well enough by concentrating on your business?”

Genjiro replied: “I have faith because I am thankful. I have faith because I believe that by devoting oneself to one’s parents, getting along with one’s spouse, and working honestly and straightforwardly contributes to the welfare of the nation.” Genjiro was detained in prison after giving such an answer.

Some time passed before he was brought out again and endured an intense scolding persuading him to quit his faith. When this was over, the police asked Genjiro, “Where do you plan to go after this?” he replied with a straight face: “I’ll probably give a talk on God’s teachings in Fushimi today. I’ll go over to Ujitawara next. Next, I’ll go to….”

The police must have given up since they released him without further ado. Yet, four or five officers followed Genjiro to hear his talk. It is said that they were impressed, saying, “If that’s the teachings are about, fine,” and the matter ended without further incident.

In the summer of 1887, the following episode occurred. Genjiro had pawned off his blacksmith tools and bedding by this time. Four or five of his followers stopped by his home on their way to Jiba. After finishing dinner, Genjiro began a talk, which ended past midnight. His followers laid themselves down on the tatami and dozed off. Genjiro’s wife, Hana, expressed concern to him, saying, “I have no rice to prepare tomorrow’s breakfast.”

Genjiro turned to her and casually said: “It’s alright, it’s alright. There’s no need to worry. God will make it so everything works out.” He laid down on the tatami himself and soon began snoring loudly.

As the woman of the household, Hana could not sleep so soundly. As she thought of what to do, the eastern sky began to brighten. There was a sudden knock at the front door. A man was standing there and explained: “I’ve never ordered anything here before, but I heard much about your husband’s skill. I have something I need to be made. I’m here this early because I had the sudden urge to place the order and waited for day to break. I would very much like to have him accept my order.”

The man left behind five yen before departing. Five yen was a considerable amount of money back in those days. It hardly needs to be said that not only did it cover breakfast that morning, but also helped retrieve Genjiro’s tools and bedding out from the pawnbroker’s storehouse.

Reference: Tenrikyo Kawaramachi Daikyokai Shiryo-shuseibu. Fukaya Genjiro den.

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

Supplemental information

Rev. Genjiro Fukaya 深谷源次郎 (1834–1923) became the first head minister of Kawaramachi Bunkyokai 河原町分教会 (branch church) when it was established in 1889. Now known as Tenrikyo Kawaramachi Daikyokai 天理教河原町大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 248 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 551 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Kamishuyo Church 神修洋教会 in Anaheim, CA; Cianorte (PR), Júbilo (SP), Jussara (PR), and Nova Maringá Kyokai (PR) in Brazil; and Buenos Aires Kyokai in Argentina. There are too many former branch churches of Kawaramachi that have become grand churches (35 in all) to list here.

Further suggested reading

For more stories on the Rev. Genjiro Fukaya, refer to:

I’d thought to add that there is a movie based on the life of Rev. Genjiro Fukaya.