The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 37

The following is a translation of Part 37 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the January 2006 (No. 445) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 37: Conveying the Teachings through Her Actions

Shinako Takane was born in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1899. When Shinako’s mother was pregnant with her, the nausea was so severe that it endangered her life. The fragrance of the teachings was sprinkled to Shinako’s mother by missionary Sentaro Hattori and she was cured through his efforts. Shinako was guided into the realm of faith through the influence of her mother’s devout faith.

The missionary Hattori often said to Shinako: “We are told that the path is to be conveyed to the corners of the Earth. The time has come to convey it overseas from now on.” Persuaded by these words, Shinako aspired to engage in overseas missionary work. A marriage proposal with Mitsuaki Takane, who lived in Mexico, came together, and she went to Mexico after receiving the truth of the Sazuke.

In Mexico, she taught the teachings of the path to her children whenever she had the time. When her children became sick, she administered the Sazuke to them, applied the sacred paper, and gave them rice grains that had been offered to God the Parent. She always practiced the service dance late into the night after everyone had fallen asleep. Being unskilled at talking, Shinako made it a practice in her life to convey the teachings with her actions.

The following episode occurred when her fourth son, who aspired to become a doctor, was training as a medical intern in a village called Echohoa. At the time, doctors commanded respect from villagers as a people who could do anything.

Yet when Shinako came to check on her son each day, she came from early morning with a broom to sweep the grounds of the medical clinic and neighboring buildings. Sweeping was done by hired servants, and her son who considered it as a menial task that ought not to be done by a doctor’s mother. Her son became furious, shouting: “Mother, that’s embarrassing! A doctor’s family isn’t supposed to do such things!”

The next morning, Shinako woke before dawn in an attempt to be less conspicuous and continued her daily sweeping. Her son gave up on stopping her.

In time, talk of Shinako’s actions — “It appears that the mother of a doctor wakes up each day to do sweeping” — spread through the village. The activity then spread when daughters of wealthy households who had never taken up a broom before in their lives began joining her. Shinako had conveyed through her actions the attitude of hinokishin.

Shinako was asked by her sons: “Mother, what in blazes is faith all about? What kind of religion is Tenrikyo?” Each time, she answered: “Watch me. Watch what I do. Faith is to walk the path that God conveyed. I walk while entrusting myself, clinging to God.”

One time, when Shinako’s son was examining an old woman, she suddenly began writhing in pain. Shinako then appeared and administered the Sazuke. The old woman’s condition immediately calmed and after a moment, she stood up and walked out the clinic by herself. This was just one of numerous miraculous happenings, for there are too many to mention here.

Reference: Arimoto Toshiaki. Mekishiko ni kakeru: Mekishiko kyokai shodai kaicho Takane Shinako no kyuju-nen.

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.

Supplemental information/Comments

The Rev. Shinako Takane 高根品子 (1899–????) went on to become the first head minister of México Kyokai in 1961. I am not sure of the year when she passed away (it is possible she may be still alive???) but she was alive in 1989 when Mekishiko ni kakeru (“Soaring to Mexico”) was published, meaning she lived at least until 90. I just happened to browse through it the other day.

Truly, Rev. Takane led a rich and dedicated life as a Tenrikyo missionary/minister. I am sure Mekishiko ni kakeru would be a rewarding work to translate for any one who is willing to give it a shot. Any takers? (Not me. At least not for the moment. I have too much on my plate.)

I imagine the scene where Rev. Takane’s sons approached her to ask what Tenrikyo was about must have played out hundreds if not thousands of times in many Tenrikyo ministers’ households overseas and throughout Japan. Most Tenrikyo ministers do not come across the type as being fully skilled at articulating the teachings; it’s usually do, do, do. An Achilles’ heel of Tenrikyo that might be changing with upcoming generations?

Lastly, I find it intriguing that Rev. Takane’s answer is not unlike what the second Shinbashira once taught. I wonder if Shozen Nakayama originally got the idea from her or if it was the other way around. But it’s also equally likely that dedicated minds think alike.