The following is a translation of Part 15 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the March 2004 (No. 423) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is tentative and may require further revision.
Part 15: A Miraculous Voyage (2 of 2)
Previously, Captain Fukuzo Kawachi was on a voyage on the Kitamaebune shipping route between Osaka and Hokkaido when he saw a dream of God telling him to “Steer your ship into the open sea.” He continued to advance his ship into the open sea amid various difficulties, and his belief in God led him to persuade his crew that the winds were sure to come if they did so.
The ship Ko-un-maru advanced further into the open sea. The winds still did not blow. Soon, they were troubled when the food supply ran out this time. Once this happened, the crew again began to voice their discontent.
“The rain last time was nothing but a coincidence.”
“There’s no such thing as God.”
The ship was again filled with a mutinous atmosphere. The crew began to make a scene, saying, “We’re in this situation because the captain didn’t stick to the route we usually sail and took the ship out to sea.”
Before his conversion to Tenrikyo, Fukuzo Kawachi would have become angry and threatened to kill anyone who dared to complain. But this time he implored: “By all means, please wait until tomorrow morning. If nothing happens, kill me, beat me up, return the ship to shore; I’ll let you do anything you wish.”
He again directed his prayers to God. That night, Oyasama appeared in his dreams and instructed,
“Lower a hook.”
The next morning, when the crew lowered their hooks in the ocean, a massive school of squid rushed the ship. The crew was able to fish them at an overwhelming pace until the ship was filled with squid.
Once they felt they had caught enough, the school disappeared into the ocean depths. With their catch, the crew was able to stave off their hunger. This time, they truly became convinced that God existed.
It was at that moment when the winds began to blow. Auspicious wind filled the sails of the Ko-un-maru and the ship was soon on a straight, rapid cruise toward Otaru Harbor. The crew expressed that they never experienced such smooth sailing before.
Nevertheless, the crew still had a single source of apprehension. They were concerned that the ships that departed at the same time they did had already sailed into Otaru and were unloading and selling their products while they were on their time-consuming and painstaking voyage. If this was the case, they would have no choice but to sell their products at lower prices just to keep pace.
Yet when they sailed into Otaru Harbor, there was not a single ship in port. It was only seven days later when the other ships arrived, thoroughly exhausted. Upon hearing their story, they discovered that the ships barely arrived by the skin of their teeth as they were caught in a rainstorm and experienced rough passage on the route along the coast.
The crew of the Ko-un-maru hailed Fukuzo Kawachi as if he were a god. The tale of their experience spread throughout the town of Otaru, planting seeds of the path. The faith of the Shinjin-gumi in Sangenya, Osaka, finally began to surge, and many of its followers were Captain Kawachi’s fellow sailors and shipmen.
Reference: Takano Tomoji 高野友治. Gozonmei no koro 『御存命の頃』.
- Next installment in this series: 16. A Prayer for Rain (1 of 2)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
The Shinjin-gumi 真心組 eventually became Nishi Shikyokai 支教会 (branch church), founded in 1892 with Kunisaburo Takada 高田邦三郎, the owner of the Ko-un-maru, installed as the first head minister. Now known as Tenrikyo Nishi Daikyokai 天理教西大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 44 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 38 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Nishitakao Kyokai in Taiwan.