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.
Life in the Kashihara Family
It may have been quite a burden on Genjiro that he had so many children. Yet, on the other hand, it may have led to him having a long life since it made him work without letting his guard down for a single day.
Incidentally, because Genjiro spent about 200 days out of the year on mission tours, the actually day-to-day care of his children was done by his adoptive mother Kiku and his wife Ko. Genjiro’s annual stipend while he was a seinen at Myodo was one yen, 50 sen. Since this amounted almost next to nothing, they often did odd jobs on the side, sometimes working through the night at times.
Seeing this, Genjiro did feel guilty as the head of household, but he never thought of finding employment outside the church. In turn, he did not feel any dissatisfaction toward the clothes he wore, the food he ate, or the place he lived. Nor did he ever demand any more than he happened to have.
Before his adoptive father Tomokichi passed away for rebirth, he turned to Kiku and said, “Kiku, please practice joyous acceptance.” Genjiro was able to exclusively dedicate himself to God largely because Kiku and Ko filled with the spirit of joyous acceptance.
Genjiro became the head minister of Myodo in 1900, but the finances of the church and that of the Kashihara family were separate. His attitude was not to use the church to supplement his family’s lifestyle.
How much of a stipend did Genjiro have at the time? In addition to what the church provided him, Genjiro recorded in detail what he received each year, including the donations followers gave to him personally as expression of their appreciation when he was on his mission tours and engaging in salvation work. According to his notes, his stipend each year between 1900 and 1903 was as follows:
- 1900: 23 yen, 70 sen
- 1901: 127 yen, 30 sen
- 1902: 89 yen, 8 sen
- 1903: 103 yen, 75 sen
From 1904 to 1912, his stipend averaged 160 yen a year. From about 1919 onward, it rose to over 800 yen a year.
When you take into consideration that his stipend was 23 yen, 70 sen in 1900, he averaged 2 yen a month. In 1903, he averaged 8 yen, 50 sen a month. No matter how much one takes into consideration how cheaper commodities were at the time, one gets a picture of the standard of living he had then. He didn’t have a single rin (1/10th a sen), let along a single sen to spend on his own enjoyment.
Still, Genjiro always made personal donations despite these circumstances. Genjiro usually referred to donations as “hinokishin.” It was probably because calling them “contributions” or “donations” could make him feel he was able to make such monetary offerings completely on his own power. He likely wanted to emphasize that one made monetary offerings out of a sense of joy and gratitude for being kept alive by God.
Because such were the circumstances the children who were born earlier, they walked a road of hardship together. It could be called a road filled with tangles of thorns. Theirs was not a happy childhood in which they grew up sitting on their father’s knee under his loving gaze.
Because Genjiro was constantly on the move on his mission tours, it was Rev. Hayashi who showered the Kashihara children with affection instead while he looked after the church. Whereas Rev. Hayashi was actually his grandfather’s brother-in-law, Yoshinori, Genjiro’s eldest son, believed that Rev. Hayashi was his grandfather and grew up calling him so. He even slept with Rev. Hayashi until he was halfway through middle school. Rev. Hayashi and his wife Yuki did not have any children, so she loved the Kashihara children no less than her husband did.
Yuki was a robust woman. She walked about selling fish in a loud voice while carrying a pole on her shoulders with two baskets on each side. This was how she earned money for her husband’s expenditures for missionary work. Sometimes she carried Yoshinori in the front basket and placed some stones in the other and walked around town before returning home.
Rev. Hayashi would sometimes encourage Yoshinori, saying: “Study hard, you’re going to be a great person one day. You’ll go to a big school in Tokyo when you grow up.” Yet it was painful for Yoshinori to hear this. That was because during his elementary school years, he received poor grades and was an underachiever.
- Next installment in this series: Yoshinori Attempts to Run Away