Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 37

37. You Are Faithful in Your Work

One day in 1874, Naragiku Nishio returned to the Residence and was sitting in front of Oyasama with other people. When they were preparing to leave, Oyasama called the name of Kokan, Her daughter, and asked:

“Dear daughter, isn’t there anything to do? These people will not leave if they are asked to do something. There is something, isn’t there?”

To this question, Kokan answered, “Yes, there are many things to do, but I was hesitating to ask them.” Then Oyasama said:

“Why not ask them?”

Kokan asked them to spin yarn. They worked hard at spinning and winding yarn on the spindle. Soon Naragiku, who was then eighteen, completed one spindle. Oyasama went to her and tapped her on the shoulder. She raised the spindle to Her head three times and said:

“Dear Naragiku, girls of your age yearn for many things. You are so young, yet faithful in your work, I admire you. There are a lot of things to do in this Residence if you are of the mind to work. While working in this Residence, you will not be able to leave, even if you want to. I recommend that you work as hard as possible when you can. Then, in the future you will be quite free from hardship, even if you want it. So work hard now.”

Note: Naragiku Nishio’s name was changed to Osame in accord with Oyasama’s words when she married Masui in 1876.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 32–33

Translation of “Sawa’s note

“[Based on] the oral accounts of Osame Masui.”

My research / take

According to the Tenrikyo jiten (p. 717), Naragiku’s mother Yuki had come to request Oyasama to “sever the innen (causality)”1 of her husband, who suffered from paralysis. Yuki came to Oyasama every day (for several days or weeks? The Tenrikyo jiten does not provide information on the duration) in the rain and snow from Izushichijo Village.

It is said that there was only one building at the Residence at the time, which suggests this took place before the construction of the Place for the Service — most likely between the 7th and 9th lunar months of 1864. Yuki’s husband (Naragiku’s father) was saved from his paralysis and never suffered from it again. Soon after her prayers were granted, Yuki took down the Buddhist altar in her home and had it kept at a temple of the “Yuzu Nenbutsu” sect. She then had God enshrined in her home.

Yuki Nishio’s name appears once in The Life of Oyasama (p. 103); she accompanied Oyasama to Byodoji Village on the occasion of the birth of Tamae Nakayama in 1877. Yuki also happened to receive a set of red clothes from Oyasama (which is still said to be enshrined in the Nishio home) and a chrysanthemum crest.2 The Nishios are also said to be related to the Muratas from Senzai Village (Tenrikyo jiten p. 717).

Anecdotes 37 is intriguing in how it describes Oyasama asking her daughter Kokan if there was something for a number of returning followers to do. Oyasama appears to not want to pass up the opportunity to have them dedicate themselves (or do fusekomi) at the Residence. (This is a matter a minister or anyone living at a Tenrikyo place of worship might be better off to do some serious contemplation on. “Hesitancy,” or “enyro” is cautioned in other contexts here.3)

Among the pilgrims, Naragiku Nishio, a second-generation follower, catches her attention. It is possible Oyasama was already thinking of her as a potential match for Isaburo Masui, who was also from Izushichijo Village.

Oyasama taps this young woman on the shoulder. Taking the spindle of yarn she has helped spin, Oyasama brings it to her head three times (Japanese is literally, “receiving it three times”) and commends Naragiku, “You are so young, yet faithful in your work.”

The publication Ikiru kotoba elaborates on these words with:

It is said that the hardships during one’s youth become one’s assets in the future. Repeated efforts engaged in making others comfortable rather than those directed toward earning money will very likely lead to the cultivation of one’s spirit and help bring an enriching life into fruition (p. 172).

Oyasama then goes on to say, “There are a lot of things to do in this Residence if you are of the mind to work.” This sentiment is reflected in the reality that Jiba and other Tenrikyo places of worship (kyokai, mission stations, et. al) that serve as regional “outposts” of Jiba require ample amounts of dedication (fusekomi) and hinokishin to upkeep and maintain.

The next sentence, “While working in this Residence, you will not be able to leave, even if you want to,” can come across as a little scary; it reminds me of the last line of “Hotel California.” Spoo-o-ky! Kind of makes me wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew by deciding to work here at Tenrikyo Church HQ. (I must admit I have recently caught myself thinking: Get me out of here, to a place as faraway as possible. I can’t say for sure whether or not these feelings are more about Japan than specifically about Jiba.)

What makes Oyasama’s words different from “Hotel California,” however, is the sentiment that God calls and draws forth personnel required at the Residence for a constructive purpose. (I guess I’m stuck here until I’m needed elsewhere?) Further, Oyasama follows this up with these words: “I recommend that you work as hard as possible when you can. Then, in the future you will be quite free from hardship, even if you want it. So work hard now.” These final instructions suggest that there is a seasonal moment in each of our lives that we should take full advantage of to sow and plant the seeds that will allow us to reap a suitable harvest in later years.

It would be ideal for me to end this post with stories chronicling how the later life of  Naragiku Nishio/Osame Masui turned out, but I think I’ll move on. (I will, however, note here that her son Koshiro Masui is considered one of Tenrikyo’s greatest theologians. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.)


Further reading

  • Sato Koji. “A Pair of Folding Fans” in Omichi no joshiki, pp. 130–134 (Link to my English online translation)
  • Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, p. 20–23. (See especially pp. 22–23)


  1. It is unclear whether or not Yuki herself used the phrase “sever the innen.” At first glance, it just merely appears mean “please save my husband.” However, when we see that Yuki’s prayer resulted in the elimination of her husband’s paralysis to the point where he never had to suffer from it again, it suggests that the term is referring to something deeper. (The Tenrikyo jiten actually describes it as “this innen was never revealed thereafter”: “sore igo innen wa denakatta.”) It nearly makes me wish for the possibility of getting some grasp of the degree to which “innen” was used by people on an everyday basis by villagers in the Yamato area in mid to late 19th century Japan.
  2. These crests were distributed to followers who were assigned as Service performers. See The Life of Oyasama, pp. 116–117.
  3. Although translated as “deference” in the online version, “enryo” was more accurately rendered “hesitancy” when this entry was put in print. See Words of the Path: A Guide to Tenrikyo Terms and Expressions, pp. 118–120.