The following is a translation of Part 55 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the July 2007 (No. 463) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 55: There Is No Other Path to Salvation (Part 1 of 2)
In 1888, Kikutaro Shimamura ran a marine products business located north of the Hiyoshi Bridge in Minami-Horie, Osaka. While he was highly confident of his strong physique since his youth, he had been suffering from hemorrhoids from the previous spring. He visited doctors, pharmacists, acupuncturists, and prayer specialists, but there was not a sign of any improvement. As he spent the days agonizing over having run out of options, he suddenly remembered something.
Kikutaro was on very good terms with fellow Kochi native Takeji Tsuzuki — to the point where they casually called each other “Take-san” (Bamboo) and “Kiku-san” (Chrysanthemum) as they saw one another in their comings and goings throughout the year. Tsuzuki had an altar in his home. Tsuzuki’s wife was saved from illness after hearing the teachings of God the Parent and subsequently had an altar enshrined. At first, when Kikutaro heard about these teachings, he first ridiculed them, saying, “If God cures illnesses, then we wouldn’t have any use for doctors and medicine in this world.”
Yet as Tsuzuki talked about God’s teachings time to time as the years rolled by, they began to take a hold on Kikutaro’s heart. Then, when his physical condition appeared to have no hope for improvement, these teachings of God flashed across his mind.
Kikutaro dragged himself to Tsuzuki’s store and wryly pleaded: “Take-san, my hemorrhoids have not healed no matter what I’ve done. I wish to be cured, so could you tell me about the teachings of the god enshrined in your home?”
Tsuzuki had guessed just by seeing Kikutaro’s face that his condition had worsened and that he was unable to tolerate the pain any longer. Yet, being well aware of Kikutaro’s usual temperament, Tsuzuki refused to deal with him, saying: “You need to suffer more before you really mean what you say. Unless you really mean it, no matter how much you may say ‘God, God,’ you cannot be saved.”
Although Kikutaro was gently snubbed by Tsuzuki in this manner, he could not forget hearing how prayers to the god of Tenrikyo were supposed bring about a cure regardless what the illness was. He repeatedly visited Tsuzuki but still had difficulty being taken seriously.
Then, one day, Kikutaro visited Tsuzuki once again on his way home from the doctor with a new attitude. He declared his wish to be saved by God by any means. Tsuzuki was moved by the seriousness he saw in Kikutaro that he usually did not demonstrate on an everyday basis. Tsuzuki finally conveyed to Kikutaro everything he happened to know.
First among the teachings on God the Parent he heard were: “God the Parent is the true Parent of everything in this world. On top of lending human beings our bodies, God the Parent also protects us each day.” Kikutaro listened with utmost earnestness and deep emotion, to the point where he lost track of time.
On his way home before reaching Hiyoshi Bridge he thought to himself: “I was told that Tsuki-Hi (Moon-Sun) is the god who created the world and humankind from where they did not exist. If this god truly has protected human beings since creation and will continue to do so for eternity, then there ought to be no mistake that God will save anyone from any illness. If I cannot be saved by God, then there is no other path to salvation. Okay, I’ve decided to stake my life and cling to God for help.”
As a sign of his solid resolve, Kikutaro unhesitatingly threw the medicine bottle he held in his hand into the waters of the Dotonbori canal.
Reference: Tenrikyo Kochi Daikyokai shi, vol. one.
- Next installment in this series: 56. There Is No Other Path to Salvation (Part 2 of 2) (Shimamura, Kikutaro 3)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Gah! I can’t believe they printed this account of Kikutaro Shimamura littering! Though I realize it is an story revealing the extent of his resolve to entrust himself to God, who knows what the eco-warriors will say about Tenrikyo at this rate? And no one can say I’m making things any better at all by being true to the original article and making it available in English. Ah, Tenrikyo has a case of littering to make up for, maybe that’s why we do so much cleaning in public places.
Rev. Kikutaro Shimamura 島村菊太郎 (1858–1911) later went on to become the first head minister of Kochi Bunkyokai 高知分教会 (branch church) in 1891. Now known as Tenrikyo Kochi Daikyokai 天理教高知大教会 (grand church), it currently oversees 260 bunkyokai (“branch churches”) and 403 fukyosho (“fellowships” or “mission stations”), including Lima Kyokai in Peru, Sunhan Gyohae (church) 順韓教会, Sungyeong Gyohae 順京教会, and Haman Gyohae 咸安教会 in South Korea, Los Angeles Central Church in L.A., and Kochi Makoto Church in Honolulu.
Former branch churches of Kochi Daikyokai include Takaoka, Kawanoe, Shigeto, Aiyo, Ino, and Ochi grand churches.
As for Takeji Tsuzuki 都築竹治 (dates?), maybe someone from Kochi Daikyokai can later add something; I all know is that Tsuzuki seems to be a common surname among ministers in this grand church.