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.
To the Far Ends of the Earth
In February, Genjiro’s physical condition grew increasingly critical. By the end of the month, he was emaciated and his fever would not subside. On the night of the 27th, he repeatedly asked for his hakama. “Groups from the U.S. and Brazil have arrived. I am going to give a sermon to them.”
Someone placed his hakama on over him and his blankets. He spoke for some time before losing consciousness again.
His eyes opened early the next morning.
“Are they still here?”
“No, they have gone home.”
“That was fast.”
These were his final words as he fell into a coma. He ended his life as if he were sleeping. It was 3:08 p.m. on February 28.
Everyone present cried out, “Wah!” A head minister left the room to be alone and pondered the words Genjiro always said: “The time when my causality is cut will be the time I stop breathing. I will go on the path of single-heartedness with God until I stop breathing.”
Before this, an emergency telegram flew to the U.S. Shizue learned about this while she was in Portland. She hurried to the airport at 5:00 a.m. in the morning, with silvery snow as far as the eye could see.
A weeping Tadashi Muranaka came to see her off. “How unfortunate this is! I was happy thinking that you could stay for some time. This is much too sudden. I didn’t even have time to get any gifts ready for you.”
Shizue instantly took his hands in hers.
“I don’t need any gifts. Instead, Muranaka-san, I have one request. Please hear me out.”
“Yes, what is it? I’ll do anything.”
“We will be sending a missionary from Myodo. I need someone to look after this missionary. Muranaka-san, will you accept?”
“Yes, I will.”
When Shizue rushed to return home, Genjiro had already passed away.
On March 2, Genjiro’s remains were transported by the Kosei Hospital car. An accompanying bus with 50 people stopped at Muya Grand Church to worship, boarded a ferry at Awajishima, and reached Myodo Dormitory at 10 p.m.
The funeral was conducted on March 4 at Church Headquarters, with the Shinbashira as chief officiant. Several thousands of people followed his coffin to Mt. Toyoda and offered their solemn prayers. His remains were interred not far from Oyasama’s gravesite.
As things settled down, Mr. Muranaka asked that a missionary be sent quickly. Embarking on the overseas mission was precisely the way to honor Genjiro’s aspirations. When a call was made for anyone who was interested, only one young man, Keigo Morishita, answered. Morishita was a former student of Yoshiro’s.
Morishita became a passenger on a third-class ship leaving Kobe Harbor heading to the U.S. via South America. The ship left past 3:00 p.m. on February 28, 1958. Strangely enough, it was exactly one year to the hour when Genjiro closed his eyes forever.
Morishita cleaned the ship’s rooms while wearing a Tenrikyo happi coat. He spread the fragrance while massaging tired people’s legs. At first, people watched warily, but by the time the ship arrived on U.S. soil, he had gained the respect and trust of other passengers.
In the U.S., Morishita exclusively devoted himself to missionary work, using a bicycle Yoshinori gave him as a farewell present. In four year’s time, the path began to spread. After acquiring a house and property, he was blessed with the establishment of Brotherhood Church.
At the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama (1966), a college-educated African-American woman named Patsy Allen returned and received the truth of the Sazuke. As he guided Ms. Allen, dressed in a service kimono, Morishita cried in his heart as he wished that Genjiro could have seen this sight.
- Next installment in this series: Afterword