The following is a translation of Part 38 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the February 2006 (No. 446) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 38: A “Whole” Offering
Kanzo Nakadai was born in 1840 and was the eldest son of Kaneshime Kimuraya, one of the leading fish wholesalers in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, at the time. He converted to the faith when he was 47 years old after Sasuke Uehara spread the fragrance of the teachings to him, which helped him experience a vivid recovery from a physical disorder.
In April 1881, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was finally legally established after the struggles undergone by the first Shinbashira and many others. Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was located at Kita Inari-cho, Shitaya-ku (later, the location of Azuma Daikyokai; now known as Ueno, Taito-ku). Both the building and property were leased.
Yet less than two months after the joy-filled inauguration ceremony (kaienshiki), on one day in June, the landowner suddenly said: “I’m thinking of selling the building and land to someone, so I’d like you to vacate it quickly. Either that or buy the building and land outright.”
This sudden turn of events was conveyed to the first Shinbashira, who immediately requested and received an Osashizu (Divine Direction). God’s intention was to have them purchase the building and property. Leading ministers at the time agonized over the problem. As they had newly gained the legal right to proselytize and practice their faith after many years of hard efforts, there was no way they could relocate Headquarters at a moment’s notice. The financial situation at Jiba at the time also did not allow them the means to purchase the property.
In the midst of this development, Sasuke Uehara approached Kanzo and gained his promise to shoulder half the owner’s asking price of 1,550 yen.1 Yet when Sasuke Uehara left for home, Kanzo’s wife Sada, who overheard the conversation between the two men from beginning to end, turned to her husband and said: “I heard what you two were discussing and truly believe that it’s a wonderful thing. But, if you think about it, we are fishmongers. Would we ever sell our customer half a fish? Wouldn’t we hand over a whole fish as it is, intact? How even more so, when we consider that what you were discussing concerns God. How about if we purchase the land as it is as a way of offering a “whole” donation to God? This, I believe, is the true path we should take.”
Sada’s words echoed in Kanzo’s heart, causing him to say, “You’re right,” and he immediately went to visit Sasuke Uehara. He declared: “Sensei, I may be overstepping my boundaries, but I, Nakadai, wish to fully assume the task of purchasing the building and property. Please put your mind at ease.”
One can only imagine the joy felt by Sasuke Uehara and everyone at Church Headquarters. With Kanzo’s sincere donation, the prospect of relocating Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was settled for the time being.
Reference: Nihonbashi Daikyokai shi, volume one.
- Next installment in this series: 39. The Faith of Choe Jae-Han (1 of 2)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Rev. Kanzo Nakadai 中台勘蔵 (1840–1894) later went on to become the first head minister of Nihonbashi Shikyokai 日本橋支教会 (branch church) in 1889. Now known as Tenrikyo Nihonbashi Daikyokai 天理教日本橋大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 231 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 66 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Diadema Kyokai in SP, Brazil.
Rev. Sasuke Uehara (1850–1912) later became of the first head minister of Azuma Bunkyokai 東分教会 in 1889. Now known as Tenrikyo Azuma Daikyokai 天理教東大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 101 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 45 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Keishin (or Gyeongsim) 慶心 and Daegu Gyohae (church) in South Korea. Current grand churches that were originally branch churches of Azuma include Nihonbashi, Ushigome, Fukagawa, Asakusa, and Bando.
This article touches on the little-known fact that Tenrikyo Church HQ was located in Tokyo briefly after it was legally established before being relocated to the only place where it can realistically be situated from a doctrinal standpoint: Jiba.
Leading Tenrikyo followers felt that it was a more feasible option to apply and establish Tenrikyo’s organizational headquarters in Tokyo since earlier efforts to legally establish the Church with local prefectural authorities in Sakai and Osaka ended in failure. The move was granted by God on the condition that Church HQ’s presence in Tokyo would be temporary.
The subsequent illness of the Honseki in July 1888 urged followers to abandon their hesitancy and submit the application to Nara Prefecture to relocate Church HQ, which was granted on July 22 that year. Another inauguration ceremony was held on 10/26 (lunar), which also marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the teaching. For more information, refer to Guideposts by Zenye Nakayama pp. 14–17 and An Anthology of Osashizu Translations pp. 63 and 65 for the Divine Direction that urged followers to relocate HQ to Jiba.
- A starting monthly pay of a primary school teacher at the time was about five yen. ↩