The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 72

The following is a translation of Part 72 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the December 2008 (No. 480) issue of Taimō, pp. 34–35. This translation is a preliminary one and thus may require further revision.

Part 72: A Mark on the Parent

In the summer of 1879, Tamezo Yamazawa was studying at a teacher’s school in Sakai to become a primary school instructor. However, the school was temporarily closed due to an outbreak of cholera in the city. Tamezo had no choice but to go back home. He soon got word from the school to resume his studies since the outbreak had settled. Tamezo’s heart was filled with anticipation as he prepared to go back to school, thinking, “I’ll be able to teach after studying just a little more.”

However, on the day before he finally was to go back to school, his elder brother suddenly came home carrying their father Ryojiro1, who had been out working in the fields. Ryojiro was suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhea — he couldn’t even drink any water — symptoms that were exactly like cholera.

Tamezo was astonished. He carried his father on his back and took him to the Residence. Once there, Oyasama cut some castella cake, partaking a piece himself before offering one to Ryojiro. He immediately tried to eat it, since Oyasama had offered it to him, but he could not swallow it.

Ryojiro stayed at the Residence for two, three days, but he could not drink a drop of water. Izo Iburi, Chusaku Tsuji, and Gisaburo Nakata conducted three sittings2 of the Tsutome. After the second Tsutome, he was able to swallow some sacred konpeito. Yet after the third Tsutome, he could not swallow anything more.

Prayers then extended for the next three days and nights. Since the police kept strict surveillance over the Residence at the time, it was impossible to look after Ryojiro in his condition any further. So, on the fourth day, he asked Oyasama permission to go back home and recuperate.

Although Ryojiro went back home, he remained bedridden. The next day, Chusaku Tsuji came to visit. Tsuji asked: “Is he still not eating? Has a doctor seen him?”

Tamezo replied: “He still can’t eat. We haven’t had a doctor see him.”

Tsuji then said: “Alright. I ask everyone in the family to thoroughly listen to God’s talk and make a resolution.”

The whole family assembled to listen to Chusaku Tsuji convey God’s teachings. Ryojiro then resolved: “I shall end my family occupation from today. Please allow me to serve at the Residence.”

In addition, Tamezo resolved: “I will also give up school and learning. I shall do my best to form as many congregations dedicated to the path as I can and devote myself to serving the path.”

Everyone then conducted a prayer service. Once Tsuji administered the Sazuke, Ryojiro immediately received the blessing of a full recovery.

Ryojiro thereafter took his lunch with him as he commuted to the Residence each day and dedicated his time exclusively to the path. Later, Oyasama turned to Tamezo and stated: God says, “I made a mark on the parent in anticipation that the child would come.” In this way, merit (ri) will sink deeper, from the first generation to the second and from the second generation to the third. Once merit sinks deep enough, it will become merit that lasts for eternity.3

References: “Yamazawa Tamezo ryaku rireki,” Fukugen No. 22.

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

Further reading

For more stories involving Rev. Tamezo Yamazawa, refer to:


  1. Ryojiro was also known as Ryosuke.
  2. A single “sitting” is to fully conduct the entire Tsutome: the seated service (or Kagura Service here?), Yorozuyo, and the Twelve Songs.
  3. See Anecdotes of Oyasama 90 for a different translation of this quote from Oyasama.