The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 53

The following is a translation of Part 53 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the May 2007 (No. 461) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 53: Ihachiro and Koiso Yamada

Three months after Ihachiro Yamada (from Deyashiki of Kurahashi Village, Yamato Province) married Koiso Yamanaka on August 22, 1881, Koiso’s father Chushichi Yamanaka accompanied them when Ihachiro had his first meeting with Oyasama. Oyasama said to Ihachiro, “Thank you for coming, thank you for coming,” and welcomed him as if he were a child coming home from afar and explained the teachings to him.

Ihachiro was impressed with each of Oyasama’s words and thereafter made the effort to return to Jiba and hear more the teachings from Oyasama. Ihachiro awakened to the faith in this manner and began to actively spread the faith with his wife. In just six months after his marriage and three months after his first meeting with Oyasama, he was able to convert eight families to the faith and established a confraternity. Oyasama named the confraternity “Shin’yu-gumi.”

The following year (1882), when Koiso was expecting and returned home to Jiba, Oyasama said:

Since I plan to conduct a test at this time, when you come back to Jiba after giving birth, do not stop on the way in Mamekoshi (where Koiso’s parents, the Yamanakas, lived), or at any other place. Come straight here without stopping anywhere. This is the true Parental Home.

The Yamadas happened to be busy preparing for rice planting. Everyone in the family save Koiso was out in the fields from early morning, leaving her alone at home. Such was the situation when Koiso suddenly felt labor pains so that she could only afford to take off her apron and place it on the tatami mat to lie on before giving birth with no help. It was such a wondrously clean delivery that when her family had returned for lunch, the baby was in bed, dressed in her swaddling clothes.

Just two days later, Ihachiro and Koiso returned to Jiba carrying their newborn without stopping by anywhere as Oyasama instructed them and did so in good health. Oyasama was greatly pleased and named their daughter Ikue.

Talk of Koiso’s wondrous delivery spread in their village. Yohei Yamamoto , head of a branch family of the Yamadas, came asking for help for his wife Isa, who could not walk for the last five years. Koiso helped Isa by praying to God and having her drink sacred water. One day, when Chushichi Yamanaka came to Ihachiro’s home, he made an inquiry with the Invocation of the Fan and said to Isa, “Though God did not specify when you will able to stand, try standing since God guarantees that you will be able to.”

Isa stood with some help from others but when they quietly let go of her hands, cracking sounds came from her legs and hips and she was able to stand on her own. The entire village became greatly excited at witnessing God’s workings before their very eyes. Further, a woman named Naragiku Tanaka regained her sight after being unable to see for seven years with Ihachiro’s and Koiso’s efforts.

As talk of the wondrous instances of salvation occurring in Deyashiki spread, the traffic going to and from the homes of the Yamadas, Yamamotos, and Tanakas intensified. Isa burned with joy as she walked the neighborhood spread the fragrance of the teachings. The Shinyu-gumi, which began with eight families, transmitted the faith from village to village, and the confraternity grew with great momentum.

References: Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den itsuwa hen. (translated into English as Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo)

Ne no aru hana: Yamada Ihachiro.

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


Wow, what an interesting Footsteps! Not only does it give an actual account of Chushichi Yamanaka 山中忠七 (1827–1902) using the Invocation (Sazuke) of Fan, it also helps tie several narratives from Anecdotes of Oyasama together . I did not know that Isa Yamamoto converted to Tenrikyo through Ihachiro and Koiso Yamada.

About the Invocation (Sazuke) of the Fan: mentioned in the Mikagura-uta, Song Six verse 10, this Sazuke was a grant Oyasama bestowed in the mid-1860s to several followers. I wrote about the Sazuke of the Fan or ogi no sazuke in my master’s thesis as follows:

“With this grant, followers were endowed with the ability to inquire the will ofGod through a fan they received from Miki through interpreting the movements of the fan that was said to move on its own upon the utterance of a prayer. Another use of the ogi no sazuke was specifically for the sake of inquiring theprognosis of an ill person (Tenrikyo jiten, p. 103). The follower who received the ogi no sazuke would place the fan on his lap and silently contemplate over the ill person’s present state. It was said one could then interpret whether or not there would bea recovery according to the direction the fan happened to move.”

According to the Tenrikyo jiten, the Sazuke of the Fan is thought to have been revoked by Oyasama in 1868 or so (p. 369) for the reason that “God’s will was not conveyed as it should have been; some egotistic, personal interpretations were mixed” in the invocation (The Theological Perspectives of Tenrikyo, p. 20). A passage from the Osashizu on June 21, 1890, touches on the matter of the Sazuke of the Fan being revoked.

Supplemental information

Rev. Ihachiro Yamada 山田伊八郎 (1848–1916) later went on to become the second head minister of Shikishima Bunkyokai 城島・敷島分教会 (branch church) in 1899. Now known as Tenrikyo Shikishima Daikyokai 天理教敷島大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 453 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 760 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Shinyu Melbourne Church in Australia; São Paulo Shin-yu kyokai in Brasil; Chilseong 七星, Daeyeon 大淵, Donggupo 東龜浦, Donggwang 동광, Dongmaeng 東盟, Dong’ungdong 東熊東, Geumseong 금성, and Wolseong 月星 gyohae (churches) in South Korea ; Chori 長理, Taipei Shinyu 台北心勇, Taiwan Zenko 台湾善光, Zhangtai 長泰 and Zhangyi 長義 in Taiwan.

Former branch churches of Shikishima Daikyokai include: Meiwa, Meijo, Oka, Tokai, Higashikanda, Kiyo, Matsusaka, and Akitsu grand churches.

Lastly, there happens to be a movie on the life of Ihachiro Yamada made by Doyusha about 30 years ago.

Koiso Yamanaka [山中こいそ] was thereafter known as Ie (sometimes spelled Iye) Yamada [山田いゑ], but it is not clear when the change in her name occurred.