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 Start of the Overseas Mission
In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake devastated Tokyo and Yoshinori was forced to transfer to Kyoto University. After graduating, he returned to Jiba and became an instructor at Tenri School of Foreign Languages. While he gave lectures, he received no salary.
He and Shizue lived at Myodo’s temporary followers dormitory as newlyweds. Myodo had just recently split from Muya and all they owned were a couple of rice bowls and a shabby table. Genjiro did not even provide them with a single sen, saying that Yoshinori was now old enough to fend for himself.
Before long, Yoshinori enlisted with the heavy artillery regiment in Shimonoseki. At the time, enlisted college graduates were promoted to lieutenants in ten months. His eldest daughter Kazuko was born while he was in the army. Yoshinori’s nickname thereafter became “Daddy.”
After his discharge from the military, Genjiro summoned Yoshinori. He strongly encouraged him to go out on a missionary expedition: “I went to Karatsu 50 days after I got married. I fell ill and had to come back, but I believe I have been able to live this long despite my bad causality because I went through the hardship of going out on a missionary expedition when I was young.
“I’ve seen many examples of successors of large churches who had to return the bodies they borrowed at a young age. It really is an unfortunate thing. I believe that this happens because they did not go through the experience of going on a missionary expedition somewhere.
“But I want you to live a long life and work for God. If you die young, I won’t hold a funeral for you. Go out immediately if you don’t want to be an unfilial son.”
Yoshinori chose Osaka as the place to engage in missionary work. He settled down in a six-mat room boarding house in Saikudani near Tennoji. Genjiro permitted him to return to the followers dormitory on Monthly Service days at Church Headquarters.
He wore a cotton kimono and a Kokura hakama. He walked the streets of Osaka with his clogs clacking to look for sick people to save. He was unsuccessful in spreading the fragrance and was often tricked by cunning city folk.
His heart grew weary, but he had an unexpected ally close by. The lady who ran the boarding house said: “You don’t have to walk around aimlessly like that. There are a lot of sick people out there. I’ll talk to someone to allow you to pray for them.”
Yoshinori then met people who attended the Besseki in this way, but he decided that if he was going to engage in missionary work, he might as well do so at the utter depths. He moved to a ghetto in Imamiya and spiritedly began his life as a religionist while fighting lice and fleas.
After this experience, Yoshinori returned to Tokushima and went to churches in farming villages every day to give sermons. He also began going on mission tours to the Chugoku region and Kyushu.
Rev. Hayashi passed away for rebirth around this time. While Yoshinori cried for many nights, at the same time, he felt a sense of liberation.
Just around that time, Headquarters Executive Official Kichitaro Matsumura exclaimed the following at the Young Men’s Association Convention: “It is the job of Arakitoryo, pioneers of the path, to lay the path in new places. Young men of the path, open your eyes and aspire to the overseas mission!” Yoshinori’s heart burned.
Good news happened to coincide in the form of a letter from Shuto’s Matagoro Mikuni in Hawaii, which said: “Please send missionaries. I promise to take care of them.”
Shuto’s head minister came to consult the matter with Genjiro and they decided to send their sons to Hawaii and engage in missionary work together.
On July 27, 1930, Yoshinori and Yoshinobu Hironaga departed Kobe on the Taiheimaru. They made friends the day after the ship left Japan. They arrived in Hawaii ten days later, enjoyed the trip, which was alternately nostalgic and youthful. Yoshinori had felt that he had stepped into a dream world.
- Next installment in this series: Yoshinori’s Trip Around the World