The following is a translation of Part 13 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the January 2004 (No. 421) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is tentative and may require further revision.
Part 13: “With a Flag Flying”
In January 1884, Kunisaburo Moroi made his third pilgrimage after his conversion, bringing ten people along with him. The group left Enshu (western Shizuoka) on January 21.
On the way Kunisaburo had a sudden idea in Toyohashi. He bought four feet (1.2 meters) of cotton sheeting and made a flag with a red sun and the characters “Tenrin-O-kosha” 天輪王講社 (Tenrin-O Confraternity) in the middle with the words “Totomi-kuni Shinmei-gumi” (Shinmei-gumi of Totomi Province) on the side. He led the group with this flag flying the rest of the way heading to Jiba.
The group arrived in Yamato on the 26th and stayed at an inn in Tanbaichi located near the Residence. The next day the group headed for the Residence, openly riding five rickshaws with the flag flying at front in full view of the police.
The Residence was in the middle of experiencing severe oppression from the authorities during this time. Police constantly patrolled the area in front of the Residence and often sent away followers who came to worship.
Once a patrol officer who was keeping surveillance in front of the Residence saw the pilgrimage group, he commanded them to stop, took the flag from Kunisaburo’s rickshaw, and subjected him to a cross-examination. However, Kunisaburo did not waver in the slightest and gave a clear, bold response to each of the officer’s questions.
When the officer told Kunisaburo, “You cannot worship. Go on home,” he answered:
“I did not come here to worship. I came to investigate the origin of the Tenrin Confraternity. I will not leave until I have concluded this investigation to my satisfaction. I’d like to have this flag back so I can put in front of the place where I am staying as an invitation to you anytime you wish to have a word with me. I will go to the police station to answer any questions that you may have at such a time. If you no longer see the flag, take this to mean that I have left the area.”
The officer was baffled as to what to do and left after only noting Kunisaburo’s name and address in his notebook. Many people witnessed this exchange between him and the officer, and it later became the talk of the town.
Several days before this, Oyasama had said:
“Oh, I feel tired, I feel tired. Children are coming from afar. Ah, I see it. I see it. They are coming with a flag flying.”
While those around Her wondered about the meaning of these words, when they saw this flag, they were convinced that Oyasama had clearly seen the flag long before its arrival.
Reference: Yamana Daikyokai shi 『山名大教会史』.
- Next installment in this series: 14. A Miraculous Voyage (1 of 2) (Kawachi, Fukuzo)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Kunisaburo Moroi 諸井國三郎 (1840–1918) later went on to become the first head minister of Yamana Bunkyokai 山名分教会 (branch church) in 1888. Now known as Tenrikyo Yamana Daikyokai 天理教山名大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 407 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 410 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including five churches in Taiwan.
Former branch churches of Yamana Daikyokai include: Aichi, Iwakidaira, Mashizu, Komaki, Sendai, Kofu, Kiyama, Shizuoka, Shiroha, Ina, and Habashita grand churches.
Further suggested reading
- Refer to Anecdotes of Oyasama 139 (“With Flag Flying,” pp. 112–113) for an alternate telling of the above episode.
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 118–123.
For more stories on Rev. Kunisaburo Moroi, see:
- 118, “On the Side of God” (pp. 97–98)
- 151, “Grant for Safe Childbirth” ( p. 123)
- 187, “Solely to Jiba” ( p. 147)