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.
Yoshinori’s Trip Around the World
A sign reading “McCully Mission Station” hung outside Matagoro Mikuni’s home in Hawaii. Yoshinori and Yoshinobu split up and went to do missionary work in the east and west. The task was not an easy one as the Hongwanji Temple had great influence. Yet instances of salvation occurred one after another and within six months between 40 and 50 worshipers began coming to the mission station’s monthly service.
Yoshinori engaged in missionary work with the cooperation of Matagoro’s eldest son Teruo. Teruo contributed to the household budget by working at the Health Department of Honolulu City Hall. At night he drove around with Yoshinori riding in his car. There were painful days when they shed tears after throwing themselves on shores of Waikiki Beach. Yet the congregation grew and led to the establishment of Taiheiyo Church.
Matagoro Mikuni became head minister and returned to Jiba to receive the symbols of worship. When he arrived with the symbols of worship, 20 cars lined up at the harbor to meet him and paraded down King St. It was the first time such a thing happened in Hawaii and Yoshinori felt he was in a dream.
After the dedication service for the establishment of Taiheiyo Church was over, Yoshinori was inspired by Hongwanji missionaries to take a trip around the world. While he secretly prepared his travel expenses, he sought to gain his father’s permission to go around the world.
At the time, Genjiro considered a trip around the world as a sightseeing excursion. Although it may provide an opportunity to experience the diversity of customs and people from countries around the globe and broaden one’s knowledge, he felt that it was a luxury of time and money that only a few people could afford.
Genjiro became angry when he got Yoshinori’s letter, anxious that perhaps his son’s previous wanderlust had kicked in again and considered it outrageous that a Yoboku of the path would go on a world sightseeing trip. In the first place, he was not in a situation where he could provide Yoshinori with any money to do so.
Still, Yoshinori did not waver. He did not expect to rely on Genjiro’s financial support from the very beginning. His bold plan was to depend on a combination of God’s protection and his own effort.
He sent another letter, saying: “It is not a sightseeing excursion. I plan to travel the world without any money while spreading the fragrance of the path.”
Genjiro grasped that Yoshinori’s ambition far exceeded his imagination. He then reconsidered and decided to encourage him and wrote, “If you are going to travel without money, feel free to spread the fragrance to the Moon.”
Yoshinori became spirited at the boldness contained Genjiro’s words. After a year living in Hawaii, Yoshinori departed Honolulu harbor with about a hundred followers seeing him off.
On August 1931, he arrived in San Francisco. It was a new frontier. He wished to raise his aspirations. Yoshinori built up his courage a hundredfold, but reality was harsh. He could not engage in missionary work as he did in Hawaii where he had a foothold. He then visited Los Angeles, where he met with Honjima’s Yoneko Okazaki. He knelt down in reverence at the powerful missionary style of this middle aged woman who came to the United States alone without knowing a word of English.
Yoshinori then took a bus from San Francisco across the Rocky Mountains and circled Kansas, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., and Boston.
He then crossed the Atlantic. From London he visited the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and Italy. He then took a ship from Naples that passed through Egypt, India, the Malay Peninsula, and China in 40 days. He then returned to Jiba for the first time in two years.
When Genjiro greeted him, he asked, “Yoshinori, I hope you haven’t brought home syphilis as a souvenir.”
“Don’t worry. I am your son, after all.”
“Really? That’s good then. Come inside, come inside.” It was only then that Genjiro allowed his joy to well up from the bottom of his heart.
“That’s my father, all right.” It was at that moment when it had sunk in for Yoshinori that he was finally home in Jiba.
- Next installment in this series: The First American Student at Tenri Seminary