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 presently incomplete.
Kazuko’s Marriage to Yoshiro
Genjiro passed on the head minister’s position of Myodo Grand Church to Yoshinori and devoted his full attention to duties at Church Headquarters in 1941. Yoshinori was the principal of Tenri Middle School and the time. There was one worry on his mind: he had no male heir.
Yoshinori, having no experience raising a son, felt a thrill and became teary-eyed as he interacted with his young students and observed their dynamism on a daily basis.
As Yoshinori spent his days in this way, almost by coincidence, he received a proposal of having someone marry his eldest daughter Kazuko and become his heir. The man in question was Yoshiro Honda, whose father was a church official of Hinaga Grand Church and whose mother was looking after a church in Sasebo. Yoshiro was a third year student at Fukuoka Higher Academy (forerunner of Kyushu University). Yoshinori felt compelled to immediately go to Kyushu to bring him over.
Yoshinori went to visit Genjiro at the Attendants’ Room at the Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters and had a word with his mother Ko who was working in the Church Headquarters Kitchen. The three of them went together to the Kanrodai to offer their prayers and began discussing the marriage proposal.
Genjiro was surprised at the sudden proposal. Yet since he always trusted Yoshinori, once he heard the details, he said: “Huh, so he’s the son of a church official at Hinaga. His mother is doing missionary work. I see. If you think it’s a good match, I’ll agree to it. Since you’re a middle school principal, I’m sure you’ve already given the young man some consideration. Everything’s fine then.
“Still, you’ll have to struggle a lot as a parent to nurture an adopted son until he’s ready to be on his own. It was quite a struggle to nurture you until you became a full-fledged adult. When you were a kid, you would pick up a coin someone offered to the altar donation box and go buy a roasted sweet potato.
“Yoshinori, you don’t know how many dozens of times I had to repent and make offerings because of you. Just be prepared. Okay then, if you’ve decided to accept the proposal, you’ll need to make an offering to God to receive God’s protection.”
Ko said to Genjiro, who had grabbed the large-built Yoshinori and began preaching to him: “Stop such gloomy talk. God is with us in every matter. There’s no way anything bad will come out of this. Let’s give our thanks once again.”
The proposal quickly became a reality and Yoshiro married into the Kashihara family in July 1942. In September the same year, he enrolled into the Graduate School of Letters at Kyoto University. He lived at Kitashirakawa Branch Church located near Ginkakuji.
Yoshiro concentrated on philosophy. The faculty at the Division of Philosophy at Kyoto University was the best in Japan at that time. He mainly studied the exhaustive and esoteric work of the Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
During his studies in Kyushu, Yoshiro barely found time to study while working part-time jobs. He happily spent his years at Kyoto University in an environment favorable for contemplation and rumination. Yet as World War II escalated, he was recruited during the national student mobilization to serve in the Tokushima Regimen of the Imperial Army in late 1943. When he enlisted, Yoshiro left the following farewell note on his desk:
To Kazuko, my dearest beloved,
Kazuko, no matter what situation you may encounter, please become a woman who loves beauty.
Beauty is all that is good. Beauty is all that is uplifting. なればかり？
I do not expect to return. I am all but grateful for being able to derive personal joy to be able to live for the great cause of our everlasting Nation. Do not lament even if I were to die a year from now.
My only regret is that I have not fulfilled my duty to honor and respect Father and Mother since I have been allowed to come to the Kashihara family.
Kazuko, please honor and respect Father and Mother in my place. I pray for your happiness.
- Next installment in this series: Myodo Grand Church Burns to the Ground