Nanatsu / Nanika ni / tsukuri-toru nara
Seven / Everything and anything / if [you] make and reap
Nanika ni tsukuri-toru nara
In my discussion of verse 6, I mentioned that the verse did not specify what was being grown, only that something would be “unlimitedly produced all over.” It can be argued that verse 7 provides the noun missing from verse 6 as “nanika,” or everything and anything.
“Tsukuri-toru” is a compound verb that means “make and reap” or “grow and gather.” “Tsukuri-toru nara” can be interpreted to mean “if one continues to work earnestly, planting seeds and applying fertilizer.”1 One commentator writes that verse 7 means to grow miscellaneous types of grain and is a metaphor for human resources being produced one after another.2
The verse here can even be applied in a modern sense, to include genetically modified forms of crops that can be cultivated in harsh environmental conditions with minimum assistance from fertilizer and pesticides as well as those that are fortified with nutrients and medicinal properties. Examples of the latter include “golden rice” fortified with vitamin A or proteins to help suppress allergies.3 The potential for genetically modified crops is limited only to the human imagination.
Another commentary offers two real-life examples of farmers who, after going through much adversity to return to Jiba and receiving the Sazuke, also received blessings involving their cows. One farmer returned home from Jiba to discover his cow was pregnant. The other farmer had a cow that stopped giving milk but began producing milk again after coming back from Jiba. The commentator claims the blessings these farmers experienced to be real-life examples of “growing and gathering any and everything.”4 The commentator equates the spirit that allows us to receive the sacrament of the Sazuke is the very same spirit that allows us to grow and gather any and everything.5
In his discussion of verse 7, yet another commentator mentions that Oyagami dislikes it when we are selective or partial. A farmer who limits himself by growing a single crop such as rice, for example, risks starving to death in the event unfavorable climate conditions lead to a poor harvest.6 In this sense, “nanika ni” (everything and anything) is a metaphor that can be applied to all our endeavors, not just agriculture. It is a directive instructing us not to limit ourselves only embarking on tasks we feel comfortable with but to dedicate ourselves in as many areas as possible. The more willingness we have to carry out a diverse array of work, the better off we are.
Oyasama’s revision to the Service dance
There is a surviving anecdote that describes Gisaburo Nakata having a sudden, severe stomach pain while practicing the dance motions of this particular verse. Oyasama was approached about the matter, said “Song One, verse 7,” and showed the hand movements as they are danced today. Until then, the hand motions were said to have been similar to verse 4. (Presumably, the isami hand motions.)7 It is unknown what this change may have symbolized.
- Song Seven, verse 10
- Song Eleven, verse 10
Yattsu / Yamato wa / hōnen ya
Eight / Yamato will / [experience] a rich harvest
Yamato wa hōnen ya
“Yamato will experience a rich harvest.”
“Yamato” is the name of a province in Japan that now goes by the name of Nara Prefecture. The area is considered to be the cradle of Japanese civilization and “Yamato” is often used to refer to Japan as a whole. Some commentators have pointed out it is significant that Yamato Province is a region known from ancient times for its mild climate and for suffering relatively few crop failures or natural disasters.8
Many commentators have explained that while the verse may literally say Yamato will experience a rich harvest, this rich harvest is not only to be enjoyed by a particular region of Japan or the country of Japan alone, but will ultimately spread to the entire world.9 We also ought to consider that for Oyasama’s original audience who lived in a closed society, their fields were their first priority and their world merely comprised the region where they lived.10 Another commentator, noting that Oyasama taught Jiba in Yamato is the homeland of humanity, writes that “Yamato wa hōnen ya” means peace and prosperity will be enjoyed by the entire human race.11
It is mentioned in one commentary that the motion of turning from left to right at “hōnen” symbolizes that this rich harvest is not only meant for Yamato or Japan, but for the entire world. There is an explanation that has been handed down that says the corresponding hand motion of drawing a circle with both hands is supposed to evoke a bale of rice. This is said to symbolize a level of richness that is whole and sufficient. The bow at the end suggests an expression of gratitude.12
Further, when one takes into consideration that a person cannot receive the sacrament of the Sazuke unless he or she returns to Jiba, which is located in a province that once went the name of Yamato, the phrase “Yamato will experience a rich harvest” can be interpreted allegorically, as a harvest of many Yoboku who can administer the Sazuke. One commentator elaborates:
“When Oyagami’s protection brings about salvation from illness and other circumstances, a multitude of people will return to Jiba in a stream from every part of the globe. Oyasama will watch this lively scene, say ‘How delightful’ and become uplifted. This development is metaphorically described as harvesting a bumper crop and sung here as ‘Yamato will experience a rich harvest.’”13
In the Ofudesaki there is a set of verses that can be paraphrased as follows: “At this time I will tell you about all sorts of matters and truths to hurry your salvation. If you ask what day this will occur, it will be as soon as the rice fields are tended to. From then on, it will become a path that is unprecedented. The Service performers will all gather. Step by step and day by day, everyone’s minds will become uplifted. People will marvel at the greatness of the rich harvest reaped in Yamato” (10:15–18).14
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication. Most recently revised on September 3, 2015.
- Ono 59. ↩
- Kanenobu Takeya, cited in MST 113. ↩
- As described by Kazuo Murakami, in Genes for the Joyous Life, Chapter 3. ↩
- Masui 87–8. ↩
- Masui 89. ↩
- Ueda A 153–4. ↩
- Suma Murata, cited in MST 112. ↩
- Nagao 73 E29:57, Ueda C 28. ↩
- Masui 90; Ono 61–2; Ueda A 155. This interpretation is consistent with the message put forth in Song Five, verse 8. ↩
- Yamamoto 74. It may also be noted that a government policy known as sakoku that strictly regulated contact and travel between other nations was in place in Japan until the late 19th century. ↩
- Tsutsui 23. ↩
- MST 113–4. ↩
- Hirano 71. ↩
- Verses 10:16–8 cited in Hirano 72; MST 114. ↩