The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 48

The following is a translation of Part 48 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the December 2006 (No. 456) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 48: Completely Committed to Implementing God the Parent’s Intention

One day in 1887, Genjiro Fukaya, who later became the first head minister Kawaramachi Daikyokai, went to a follower’s home near Ishiyama, Oe Province, with Zensuke Sawada to conduct a home service. The day after the home service was conducted, a finely-dressed man came, saying he wanted ask Genjiro a number of questions.

When the man sat in front of Genjiro, Genjiro said, “Sawada-san, could you bring a rice tub?”

The man became resentful and shouted: “I didn’t come for a rice tub! I came to ask some questions (shitsumon)!”

Genjiro, with utmost calm, said: “I thought you said to me bring a rice tub (hitsu motte koi)” and refrained from engaging with the man any further.

The man then declared as he stormed out to leave: “Well, you’re a hopeless one! Certainly a pushover unworthy of my attention!”

Later, Genjiro said: “No matter how much you take on someone’s challenge, firmly hold your ground, and win in an argument, you will never convince the challenger to embrace the faith. Be sure not to take on such a challenge. Oyasama always said it’s better to allow others get the upper hand. It’s best to be a fool for now.”

Thus, such was the manner Genjiro dealt with hot-headed individuals.

Circa spring 1887, Genjiro abandoned his family occupation as a blacksmith and chose to embark on a life single-heartedly committed to the salvation of others.

This was truly a sad development for his father, Genbei, who was over 70. Time to time, Genbei would express his grief by saying: “It’s fine for Genjiro to run about for the sake of his faith. But I worry about the future when I see Tangen (the blacksmith shop) fade from its former glory, the family home being pawned away, and Genjiro quitting work. How regretful it would be if I allowed things to go on at this rate and end up not being able to have a funeral after I die.”

This was an understandable sentiment on the part of Genjiro’s aged father. Genjiro was, by nature, many times more devoted to his parents compared to the typical person of his day and age. As he heard this, he said to Genbei: “God is free to provide us with everything and anything. Please take delight and look forward to the wide path that is to come! Please tolerate the situation for the time being. I promise I will send you off in a worthy manner after you have passed away.”

Nevertheless, Genbei found it impossible to believe in his son’s words. Genjiro’s younger brother Etsujiro saw the situation as it was and secretly raised money to set his father’s mind at ease. He showed the money to Genbei and hid it under the altar as his father’s funeral fund. Genjiro later found out about it and used the money for the sake of the faith and used it for the sake of the path, pronouncing: “It is wrong to have a mind-set that doubts God.”

When one considers how devoted Genjiro was to his parents in his youth, such a stance speaks volumes of his conviction and faith. It can be said that such conviction precisely allows one to be blessed with divine protection.

Genjiro’s joyous faith where he venerated God the Parent as “the god of joyousness” was filled with single-hearted devotion that was completely committed toward implementing God the Parent’s intention by any means possible. He also exuded with joy and cheer that reflected his total submission to God and embodied his conviction that God the Parent would provide by granting the best results possible if he dedicated his utmost and clung to the divine intention.

As for his father Genbei’s funeral, Genjiro was able to follow up on his words as it was conducted in grand style after Genbei’s passing.

Reference: Tenrikyo Kawaramachi Daikyokai Shiryo-shuseibu. Fukaya Genjiro den.

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

Supplemental information

Rev. Genjiro Fukaya 深谷源次郎 (1834–1923) became the first head minister of Kawaramachi Bunkyokai 河原町分教会 (branch church) when it was established in 1889. Now known as Tenrikyo Kawaramachi Daikyokai 天理教河原町大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 248 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 551 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Kamishuyo Church 神修洋教会 in Anaheim, CA; Cianorte (PR), Júbilo (SP), Jussara (PR), and Nova Maringá Kyokai (PR) in Brazil; and Buenos Aires Kyokai in Argentina.

There are too many former branch churches of Kawaramachi that have become grand churches (35 in all) to list here.

Further suggested reading

For more stories on the Rev. Genjiro Fukaya, refer to:

I’d thought to add that there is a movie based on the life of Rev. Genjiro Fukaya.