23. Saving from Tachiyamai Disease
Saku Matsumura was staying with her parents, the Kohigashis, in order to recuperate from tachiyamai disease. On January 10, 1871, she returned to Jiba to pray for her recovery.
Oyasama told Saku various inspiring stories. Then She combed her hair, crushing one by one the lice which had bred during her long illness and fever. In addition, a bath was prepared and Oyasama washed the dirt off Saku’s body.
Because of Oyasama’s careful and warm nursing, Saku remarkably recovered her health within three days.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 16–17
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“[Source of Anecdotes 23 is] Yoshiharu Matsumura’s Omokage [“vestiges”], published in 1975.
“Matsumura Saku: older sister of Shuji’s wife Matsue. Saku’s husband Eijiro Matsumura was the headman of Kyokoji Village in Takayasu County, Kawachi Province (currently Kyokoji of Yao City, Osaka Prefecture). Saku and Eijiro are considered mainstays of Takayasu Daikyokai.
“Comment: [According to] Anecdotes 102 ‘I Myself Will Call on Her,’ Oyasama visited the Matsumura residence for three days.”
My take / research
I think I should add that Shuji was Oyasama’s eldest child and only son, making the Matsumuras in-laws of the Nakayamas. Shuji married Matsue Kohigashi in 1869.
Saku lived in Kyokoji, now a section of Yao City, located roughly 22 kilometers west from the Residence in Shoyashiki Village. That she stayed with her parents in Byodoji Village, Yamato Province, meant she was somewhat closer to the Residence (roughly 11 to 12 kilometers away west or 10 km closer). Based on the account related above, it is possible to conclude that her parents either recommended her to rely on Oyasama or that she decided on her own to pray for a complete recovery while she staying with them.
Although Tomoji Takano sensei has once written that Eijiro Matsumura converted to Tenrikyo the same year when Shuji and Matsue married, it may be safer to assume he didn’t fully embrace the faith until Oyasama saved Saku from this “tachiyamai disease.”1
It is far from clear what this “tachiyamai disease” was. The “tachi” portion particularly is where the mystery lies since “tachiyamai” is written in hiragana in the Japanese edition of Anecdotes of Oyasama (Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama-den, itsuwa-hen). (The “yamai” of “tachiyamai” is “illness” or “disease.”) My first intuition of a possible kanji to apply to “tachi” was [立ち] or “stand,” but I realized that there were several other possible meanings.2 I wondered if some digging would give some clues.
According to a source written by Kichitaro Matsumura sensei, Saku’s son and founding head minister of Takayasu Daikyokai, Saku was seen by five different doctors who each gave up on her.
She was carried by palanquin to her parent’s home in Byodoji and decided to turn to Oyasama for help when she remembered that her in-law had the reputation of being able to cure people of illnesses that were considered impossible to cure.
It is also described that Saku suffered from her illness for at least a year before Oyasama was able to cure her after instructing her in the teachings (I feel the phrase “various inspiring stories” is somewhat of a misleading translation) and conducting prayer services.
The only description I found about this “tachiyamai” (“standing disease”?) was that Saku’s belly had cramped up as if there was a stick inside (“hara ni bō no tsupparu“). Another source (a history of Takayasu Daikyokai) pretty much gave the same description.
Since I’m not a physician, I can’t really say what this “tachiyamai” was based on just two symptoms (acute abdominal cramps or swelling + fever). Perhaps future research will unlock this mystery, but I would argue that discovering the identity of this “tachiyamai” is rather low in priority when one considers the account’s religious importance to the Tenrikyo tradition in that it is simply one of several others that demonstrate the “parental love” of Oyasama3 during her physical existence and how her hands-on, personal care allowed a mainstay of the path to recover from an illness her doctors regarded as incurable.
- Next installment in this series: 24. I Am Glad You Have Come Home
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tenrikyō Takayasu Daikyōkai shi (TTDS) (revised edition). 1989 . Osaka: Tenrikyō Takayasu Daikyōkai.
- Matsumura Kichitarō. 1952 . Michi no hachijū-nen: Matsumura Kichitarō jiden. Tanbaichi: Tenrikyō Yōtokusha.
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 40–44.
- Tenrikyo’s official biography of Oyasama, The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo — Manuscript Edition reads: “In January of 1871, Eijiro Matsumura of Kawachi Province began to follow the path” (p. 80). ↩
- Other possibilities of “tachi” that I thought were compelling were verbs (dictionary form “tatsu“): (経ち) “pass” (as in time) and (断ち) “cut/sever.” ↩
- Anecdotes 23 is mentioned in passing among several others in Motoyoshi Tomimatsu sensei’s Monthly Service Sermon from June 2006 (link to second half of June 2006 sermon). ↩