20. Birth of a Girl
“Chushichi, a girl was born at your home last night. They are all waiting for your return. Hurry home to them.”
Chushichi had not expected the baby to be born that soon, so he had stayed overnight at the Residence. Therefore, when Oyasama informed him of the birth he was half in doubt, but he acknowledged Her words, saying, “Oh, I see, thank you.” However, when he met his son, Hikoshichi, on the way and was told the news of the birth, he realized fully the truth of Oyasama’s words. When he further learned that it was indeed a girl, he was filled with awe.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 14–15
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“[The reference is] Yamanaka Chūshichi-den [Biography of Chushichi Yamanaka].”
My take / research
Here is another story from Anecdotes with Chushichi Yamanaka. Upon reading Anecdotes 20, I can’t help but feel that, despite witnessing several instances of God’s wondrous workings as shown to him by Oyasama — which include his wife Sono being saved from a critical case of hemorrhoids (described in Anecdotes 11), the effectiveness of the Sazuke of Fertilizer (described in Anecdotes 12), and other special “privileges” she granted him (such as his use of the Sazuke of the Fan described in Anecdotes 14 and the “eternal seeds” she bestowed to him in Anecdotes 15) — Chushichi sensei is nevertheless showing signs of weariness at this point in his faith. I mention this primarily because it is described that Chushichi sensei “was half in doubt” when Oyasama informed him that Sono had given birth to a girl.
I will offer an episode (also described in The Life of Oyasama) that potentially explains why Chushichi may not have been in the mood at the time to wholeheartedly believe in Oyasama’s words.
In the autumn of 1866, two yamabushi monks barged into the Residence and confronted Oyasama with a series of questions. She faced them and responded to their questions with great composure. Frustrated that they could not gain an edge in making any profound theological arguments, the monks went on a rampage and began cutting hanging lanterns, drums, and tatami mats.
They then proceeded to Mamekoshi village to Yamanaka Chushichi’s home to take the gohei (bestowed to him as a means to focus his prayers to God) that was enshrined there. Chushichi was given severe blows to his head when he attempted to stop them. The two yamabushi then went to the office of the Furuichi Magistrate to issue a complaint about Oyasama’s religious activities.1
As a result of this attack, Chushichi was discouraged from his regular worship at the Residence. Chushichi did not visit the Residence unless it was the 26th of the month (Service day) or when he has having personal troubles (Nakayama 1936, 1:67–68) and his enthusiasm remained dampened for some time.
That Chushichi sensei stayed overnight at the Residence at all may be attributed to the fact that Oyasama visited the Yamanaka home from 3/7 to 3/10/1868 (The Life of Oyasama, p. 74; dates are lunar).
Yet again, it is more than possible the above incident happened before her visit. Although Anecdotes 20 gives no specific date other than it was early in the month (sangatsu shojun), it would make more sense for Oyasama to have visited the Yamanaka home to celebrate the birth of their daughter. If this was the case, Chushichi would have certainly been a more receptive and deserving host when Oyasama visited after he had been freshly “awed” and reminded that he was not dealing with a local healer, but the “Shrine of God” herself.
- Next installment in this series: 21. That’s All to the Good, That’s All to the Good
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Hardacre, Helen. 2002. Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Japan: A Study of the Southern Kantō Region, Using Late Edo and Early Meiji Gazetteers. Ann Arbor: Center of Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan.
- Nakayama, Shōzen. 1936, 1946. Hitokoto hanashi, 3 vols. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- _________. 1996 . The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo (third edition). Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 11: God Has Drawn You to this Residence
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 12: The Sazuke (Divine Grant) of Fertilizer
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 14: Dyeing
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 15: These Seeds
- The Life of Oyasama, Chapter Four, p. 54; p. 74.
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 8–10.
- Although it may seem to be a sign of pure chutzpah for the monks to have registered a complaint with government authorities after they had indulged in violence at the Residence and at Chushichi sensei’s home in Mamekoshi, research into the circumstances of the times reveal that the yamabushi monks likely felt financially threatened by Oyasama. Shugendo practitioners in general (unlike monks of other Buddhist sects) were not allowed to perform funerals, a lucrative source of income for other Buddhist institutions (Hardacre 2002). Yamabushi were consequently more protective of their interests to maintain control over the performance of healing rituals that Oyasama essentially offered free of charge. ↩