The following is a translation of Part 25 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the January 2005 (No. 433) issue of Taimo, p. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 25: Under the Same Roof; On the Same Dirt Floor
Circa 1894, five Tenrikyo missionaries in their late 20s found a place in Hirosaki from where they went out to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings day and night. In time, they sprinkled the fragrance of the teachings to Iwanosuke Jin 神石之助, who they had met at the entrance of Hirosaki Hospital.
Iwanosuke suffered from a serious case of tuberculosis, but received the vivid blessings of a recovery in 21 days through the missionaries’ fervent administrations of the Sazuke. His wife Sanko さん子 was originally from Ofukuro Village, Tsugaru (now known as Aomori Prefecture). When she went to visit her parents, she told everyone in the neighborhood how her husband was saved by Tenri-O-no-Mikoto.
Matazo Kasai 葛西亦蔵, who was a member of one of the illustrious families in Ofukuro Village, overheard Sanko’s story. He had suffered over seven years from various ailments of the heart, eyes, and an accumulation of fluid in his lungs since he was about 30 years old. He immediately requested for the missionaries’ help.
One of them, Shigezo Kubo 久保繁蔵, soon arrived to administer the Sazuke and convey God’s teachings to Matazo. Matazo’s fellow villagers were astonished and wide-eyed when they saw him receive the blessings of a complete recovery from his incurable illnesses in a mere ten days.
Though he was small in size, Matazo was a man of firm character; plainspoken and fearless by nature. Stirred by his miraculous salvation, he resolved to dedicate his life to saving others. This occurred in April 1895.
The Kasais were a well-known family in the area who were allowed to possess a surname and wear swords in previous generations and had the honor of having been appointed as village headmen (shoya 庄屋). It was widely known that Matazo had been recuperating for some time. The story of how he fully recovered in a mere ten days spread to nearby villages, which caused people whom doctors had given up on to flock to Matazo’s home in their desperate quest for salvation.
Although he resolved to dedicate himself to saving others, Matazo still had no detailed knowledge of the teachings and had not received the truth of the Sazuke. In any event, he had one of the missionaries write the ten sacred names of God the Parent’s complete providence on a fan.
He immersed himself in prayer by reading out the sacred names that he wrote on each of his fingers1 and was able to miraculously heal others of their illnesses in this manner. People were overjoyed at being healed of their illnesses, and Matazo became emotionally stirred once more at God the Parent’s blessings. As news of these healings spread, more people came in horse-drawn carriages from all across Tsugaru. It came to the point where over a hundred people visited the Kasai household each day.
After Matazo returned to Jiba and received the truth of the Sazuke, he began to take care of the chronically ill in his home, sleeping and eating with them as he administered the Sazuke so many times over that he did not know the difference between day and night.
The people Matazo took in lived under the same roof on straw mats laid on the dirt floor, appreciating each bowl of rice gruel they were served and chanted the sacred names of God from morning to night. Matazo slept on the same dirt floor, ate the same rice gruel, and prayed together with them. He considered all the illnesses of those who came as his own matter and solely strove to administer the Sazuke to them.
As he did so, many people were healed from illnesses that were common in the area: various eye ailments, Hansen’s disease, and cancer. People who were unable to stand were able to walk freely once again. One who was unable to stand for over ten years stood up by clutching on to a chair. Everyone gasped in amazement each time they saw such miraculous instances of God’s protection appearing before their very eyes.
Reference: Tsugaru Daikyokai hyakunen-shi 『津軽大教会百年史』.
- Next installment in this series: 26. Like Sliding On Water
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Matazo Kasai 葛西亦蔵 (1868? –1910) served as the second and fourth head minister of Tsugaru Shucchosho 出張所(“branch office” or “mission center”) / Shikyokai (支教会). Now known as Tenrikyo Tsugaru Daikyokai 天理教津軽大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 65 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 24 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”).
- The art that accompanies this article depicts two grubby hands with the “male” sacred names written on the left hand (from thumb: Kunitokotachi-no-Mikoto, Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto, Kashikone-no-Mikoto, Otonobe-no-Mikoto, and Izanagi-no-Mikoto) and “female” sacred names on the right (again, from thumb: Omotari-no-Mikoto, Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto, Kumoyomi-no-Mikoto, Taishokuten-no-Mikoto, and Izanami-no-Mikoto). I have no idea whether or not this depiction has any historical or doctrinal basis, but it makes sense to have Kunitokotachi-no-Mikoto and Omotari-no-Mikoto, the two “main” aspects of God the Parent’s providence on the thumbs or oya-yubi (literally “parent-fingers” in Japanese). ↩