とん／＼とんと正月 をどりはじめハ やれおもしろい
トントントント正月 踊り初めは やれ（何と）面白い
Ton ton ton to / Shōgatsu / odori hajime wa / yare / omoshiroi
Ton, ton, ton, / the dawn of a new age / the start of the dancing / oh how / delightful
Ton ton ton
This represents the rhythm of the foot motions of joyous dancing.1 It also potentially symbolizes the sound of musical instruments.2 One commentator suggests that the movements of being drawn to left and then to the right represents Oyagami’s guidance through afflictions of the body.3
The opening of verse 1 may be contrasted with a verse in the Ofudesaki containing “ton ton.” The official translation of the verse describes Kami “rushing out by leaps and bounds”:
Though you may see Me rush out by leaps and bounds, never be anxious of mind.
Although the meaning of this term was covered in Song One, one commentator claims that “Shōgatsu” in Song Two specifically symbolizes:
- The day of origin of Tenrikyo (a point of departure toward a new history, one leading to the Joyous Life).
- The day of origin of one’s faith (a point of departure toward a new life).5
Another commentator writes, “Living an entire year as if it were the New Year’s season is the beginning of a joyous world.”6
Odori hajime wa
Generally, the “odori” (dancing) here is interpreted as the dancing of the Service or Teodori.7 It may be noted that Oyasama taught the first three of the Twelve Songs during Shōgatsu or the first lunar month of 1867.8
One particular commentator compares Song Two, verse 1 with Song One, verse 1 and suggests that the performing the Service (symbolized by the phrase “odori hajime wa” or the start of the dancing) is comparable to applying the Sazuke of Fertilizer to a field. That is, performing the Service amounts to applying fertilizer to the field of one’s heart-mind.9
One commentator10 makes note that Song Two, verse 1 is the only instance of “yare” in Songs One and Two where the corresponding motion is the isami or spiritual uplift hand motion. The isami dance motions begin with “odori hajime wa” and continues to the end of the verse (omoshiroi). The isami dance motion is said to both reflect the emotion of the dancers and symbolize the message that, as those close to Kami will be filled with vitality and become uplifted, Kami also will become uplifted (Ofudesaki 1:11).11 This suggests the sentiment of “omoshiroi” is shared by both the dancers and Kami alike.12
The lone verse in the Ofudesaki with the adjective omoshiroi goes:
How delightful it will be! So many people will assemble, coming to ask for the gifts of heaven.
二ツ ふしぎな ふしんかゝれバ やれにぎはしや
二つ 不思議な 普請掛かれば やれ賑わしいや
Futatsu / Fushigi na / fushin / kakare ba / yare / nigiwashi ya
Two / wondrous / construction / if you begin it / oh how / lively
Fushigi na fushin
“Fushigi” (wondrous), is said to describe Oyagami’s protection that makes possible what cannot be accomplished by human ingenuity or effort.14 Others claim it also refers to Oyagami’s profound, superhuman intention15 and phenomena that are uncommon, rare, and precious.16
Since the Place of the Service is described as “wondrous” in Song Three, verse 2, “Fushigi na fushin” (wondrous construction) in Song Two may be foreshadowing Song Three, in which the construction of the Place for the Service is a major theme.
The hand movement for “fushin” mimics the motions of using a tool called a chouna (pronounced chonno in the Yamato and Osaka regions). There is a ceremony called chouna-hajime (first stroke of adze) that marks the beginning of a construction17 and an annual ceremony carpenters perform for the New Year that goes by the same name.18
According to Ofudesaki chushaku, the first instances of “fushin” in the Ofudesaki can be understood to refer to Shuji’s efforts to become one with the mind of Oyasama by following and actualizing Oyagami’s intention of manifold forms of salvation as well as the physical construction of Kami’s Residence.19 The phrase “wondrous construction” can also be interpreted to mean the construction of the world into the world of the Joyous Life, spiritual construction20, and the physical construction of actual buildings.
One commentator writes:
“Beginning with the construction of the Place for the Service in 1864, the construction to build Oyasato, the Parental Home, and the sanctuary constructions of each church are all constructions undertaken in order to bring into reality the Joyous Life Oyagami intends. That makes them joyous constructions. These constructions are wondrous constructions in the sense they begin, proceed, and are completed under Oyagami’s wondrous protection.”21
Regarding the term “fushin,” I personally feel the fact that Oyasama never wrote this term in kanji (some Tenrikyo writers still currently write fushin in kana) makes it a pivot word that metaphorically represents the variety of potential perspectives people will take depending on their relation to any construction project.22
To elaborate, the kanji in which fushin is usually written — 普請 — reveals its roots as a construction project (usually that of a Zen temple) that starts with the head priest “widely requesting” assistance from his parishioners to raise funds, plan, assign, and carry out the actual construction work. Anyone who is not involved or emotionally invested in the construction may express a variety forms of “fushin,” which can be written in the following different ways:
- a lack of sincerity or disbelief (不信) that it is even possible;
- mistrust or suspicion (不審) of the people undertaking the construction; or
- an opinion that a construction may bring about a poor or sluggish (不振) financial situation.
- Yet others will struggle and make painstaking efforts (腐心) to make the construction possible.
While the ideal is to react enthusiastically to the prospect of construction, the four different reactions I related to above have been expressed at various points throughout Tenrikyo’s history by outsiders and insiders when various construction projects were undertaken.
The phrase fushigi na fushin also appears in Songs Eight and Twelve. Both of these Songs have construction as a central theme.
- Song Three, verses 2–3
- Song Eight, verse 2
- Song Twelve, verse 2
The hustle and bustle of any prospective construction evokes the image of many people gathering, digging, sawing, and hammering, truly a “nigiwashi” (boisterous or lively) scene if there ever was one.23
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication. Most recently revised on September 3, 2015.
- Fukaya 71 E50; Hirano 77; Nagao 77 E29:58; Ono 66; Ueda C 31; Yamamoto 81. ↩
- MST 120. Personally, I feel that “ton ton ton” may be mimicking the rhythm of the kotsuzumi. ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 121. ↩
- Cited in MST 121. ↩
- Hirano 77. ↩
- Ueda B 14. A similar sentiment is expressed in Masui 94. ↩
- Fukaya 71 E50; Hirano 77; Masui 95; Ono 66; Ueda A 164–5; 169; Yamamoto 81. One commentator even dares to identify “odori” as the Kagura Service (Ando 40). ↩
- MST 122. ↩
- Fukaya 71–2 E50. ↩
- Keiichiro Moroi, cited in MST 124. ↩
- This particular Ofudesaki verse is also cited in Ueda A 171; Yamamoto 81. ↩
- See also Ono 67. ↩
- Cited in MST 124. ↩
- Fukaya 72 E50. ↩
- Hirano 78. ↩
- Tsutsui 27. ↩
- Yamamoto 83, 86 fn. ↩
- Jaanus entry “chounahajime.” ↩
- Ofudesaki chushaku, 10–1, note for 1:35. ↩
- This theme makes up a significant part of the explanation provided in Ando 40–4. ↩
- Hirano 79. ↩
- This portion was lifted from an earlier post I wrote that covered construction as a theme. ↩
- See Fukaya 72 E50–1; Ueda A 177. ↩