The following is a translation of Part 73 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the January 2009 (No. 481) issue of Taimō, pp. 34–35. This translation is a preliminary one and thus may require further revision.
Part 73: Making Earnest Efforts Toward O-Tasuke
In 1894, Kano Murofushi departed Shizuoka for Oshu, accompanying her husband Yasubei to engage in missionary work. Whenever they arrived at a fork in the road, they took off their footwear and threw them in the air. They then went in the direction their footwear happened to fall toward.
Their journey was rough one, where they literally “hid in the mountains” in the manner of mountain ascetics; local villagers threw rocks at them. On one occasion, a number of people who were opposed to Tenrikyo ambushed them at night, dumping excrement on their heads. They washed themselves in a nearby river and hung their clothes by a campfire. It is said that Kano’s hair froze and stiffened like a wooden pole. Nevertheless, by saying, “Ah, this allows us to experience even a small fraction of Oyasama’s Hardships,” they encouraged each another, reflecting on Oyasama’s Hardships as they shivered by the riverside, chilled to the bone in the lone winter night.
Kano and Yasubei eventually moved to Hachinohe to begin their missionary effort. Their efforts resulted in miraculous instances of salvation. Far from having a constant stream of visitors, a long line of ailing people seeking relief formed around their house, winding seven to eight times around their home like a giant, coiled serpent.
Even on the day she gave birth to her third daughter, Kano endured her labor pains and administered the Sazuke1 without rest. Once she gave birth and took care of the umbilical cord without any help from anyone, she resumed administering the Sazuke as if nothing had happened. At the time, a follower who was still yet to learn much about Tenrikyo, remarked, “I saw an old woman with white hair wearing a red kimono behind Lady Kano.”
One day, a man who was half-dead was brought to them. He emitted an odor so foul and strong that it made even people who just passed by to hold their noses. Since it was a hot day, the man was wrapped in a white sheet. Although a policeman stopped the people who were carrying him on a cart, they were able to escape by claiming, “He’s dead, so we’re rushing him to the crematory.”
Kano chanted God’s name as she stroked the dying man’s face, stroked his chest, and took down water that had been offered at the altar. She filled a teacup with the offered water and brought it to the man’s lips but the water dribbled down as he had no strength to swallow it. Kano then partook the water herself and had him drink it through her lips. The ailing man then made a swallowing sound.
“Ah, he swallowed the water. He will be saved!”
Kano was delighted as if she had been saved herself. Although her arms were covered with the man’s pus, she showed the slightest concern about it.
Fifty years later, when Kano’s daughter visited the area, an old man ran up and hugged her. He cried and told her the above story, saying: “I’m the man that your mother helped save. I’m 89 years old! God kept me healthy like this ever since then!
The foundation of Konanbu Daikyokai began in Hachinohe. When a directive from the Home Ministry in 1897 initiated state-sponsored oppression of Tenrikyo that caused other churches to suffer from extreme debilitation, Konanbu alone burned with a zeal that allowed them to send their donation boxes on horseback to their parent church. It is said that four hundred follower households focused their efforts to donate all their wealth. Behind the scenes were Mr. and Mrs. Motofushi, who were making earnest efforts toward o-tasuke as they followed in the path of Oyasama’s Hinagata.
Reference: Mukku Tenri No. 3.
- Next installment in this series: 74. “My Pedestal to Discipline the Live-ins” (Shirokihara, Akiyo)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
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