Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 49

49. Obedient Mind

In 1876 or 1877, when he was five or six years old, Yoshimatsu Hayashi dislocated his right wrist. So his grandmother took him to the Residence.

“Welcome home, dear,”

said Oyasama. Then, pointing to the tea cup at the entrance, She said:

“Please bring Me that tea cup.”

Yoshimatsu was going to lift it up with his left hand as his right one hurt.

“No, dear boy, this hand, this hand,”

said Oyasama, raising Her right hand. Because Her voice was so august, the obedient boy dared not disobey. Much to his amazement, he was able to hold the cup. Before he realized it, he had been saved, and his right hand was healed.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 42–43

Translation of “Sawa’s note

“[Based on] the oral account of Yoshimatsu Hayashi in 1946. He was born in 1872 as the son of Jinzo and Kano Hayashi. His grandmother Tsune was the elder sister of Sojiro Kajimoto.1 [Yoshimatsu’s] mother Kano was the second daughter of Koemon Murata.2 and Anecdotes of Oyasama.3 He is the husband of Ie (Iye) and father of Chobei and Kosuke.] “

Supplemental information from Taimo

“Yoshimatsu Hayashi: Born in 1872 in Nikaido Village (presently Nikaido-cho, Tenri City) as the eldest son of Jinzo and Kano.

“His father Jinzo was introduced to the faith by Koemon Murata of Senzai Village. He inherited the faith after his father passed away for rebirth in 1883 and moved to Mishima.4 He was promoted to a Honbu-jun’in (Church Headquarters senior official) in 1934. He passed away for rebirth in 1957 at the age of 85.”

Insight from Shigeru Serizawa sensei

An article from Shigeru Serizawa sensei made me realize that the translation above does not effectively capture the nuance of the original. The portion in question is: “Because Her voice was so august, the obedient boy dared not disobey. Much to his amazement, he was able to hold the cup.”

A translation such as “Because of Oyasama’s dignified voice and his childlike innocence (kodomo-gokoro no sunao sa), when he tried to hold the cup with his injured right hand, he was able to hold it” would be closer to the original.

Serizawa sensei points out that the text attributes Yoshimatsu’s salvation (i.e., the curing of his right wrist) to his childlike innocence (kodomo no sunao na kokoro). He then says that the lesson of Anecdotes 49 — having a “sunao” (translated in the title as “obedient”) mind is of utmost importance in faith even for adults — is clear enough that no further explanation is necessary.5

The meaning of “sunao”

However, “sunao” remains to be an elusive term and concept to render in English. The term “obedient” more readily brings to mind a well-trained pet for me than an ideal mindset for followers to have. “Honesty” and “straightforwardness” have been given as more recent attempts. I recently have the tendency to translate it as “willingness” or “receptiveness.” Refer to this (translated) article from Yoshikazu Fukaya on sunao for further explanation.

Timeline of significant developments of 1876 and 1877

Although it may be somewhat awkward to put a timeline here at the end of this post, I decided to add one here of 1876 and 1877 regardless since this selection from Anecdotes of Oyasama is believed to have taken place sometime during these years. (In brackets are corresponding page numbers of same events as described in The Life of Oyasama.


  • Oyasama writes Part 12 of the Ofudesaki [p. 125]
  • Shuji applies and receives a permit from Sakai Prefecture to run a steam bath and inn at the Residence as an expedient method around the law to allow people to gather to worship [p. 101-102]
  • Rihei Murata (appearing in Anecdotes 32) requests a performance of the Service for Rain. Masui Isaburo, Gisaburo Nakata, Chusaku Tsuji and others are dispatched in response [p. 102]
  • Kajiro Ueda and his daughter Naraito embrace the faith (as detailed in Anecdotes 48) in addition to Tsuchisaburo Itakura of Onchi Village, Kawachi


  • Oyasama writes Part 13 the Ofudesaki [p. 125]
  • Oyasama begins teaching the sankyoku or three stringed instruments for the Service [p. 102] (To be detailed in Anecdotes 52, 53, 54 & 55)
  • February 5: Tamae Nakayama (whose birth is foretold in Ofudesaki 7:65–66 and 72) is born to Shuji and Matsue [pp. 102–103]
  • May 14: An official from the Prefectural Branch Office in Tanbaichi come to stamp a seal on various religious items, making their use prohibited [p. 103]
  • May 21: Shuji is subject to a summons from Nara Police Station and falsely charged with mixing medicine with the sacred gift (goku). He is fined and sentenced to 40-days detention [p. 103]


  • Serizawa Shigeru. 2003. “Kodomo to shinkō: 49 ‘Sunao na kokoro’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 101–113.
  • Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, ed. 1981. Tenrikyō gaisetsu. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Shuppanbu.
  • _________. 1997. Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
  • _________. 1996 [1967]. The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo(third edition). Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
  • Tenrikyo Overseas Department. 2000. Reference Materials for The Life of Oyasama. Tenri: Tenrikyo Overseas Department.
  • Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. “Oyasama: Taimō 455 (November 2006), pp. 14–15.

Further reading


  1. Sojiro Kajimoto (1827–1887) was the husband of Oyasama’s third daughter Haru (1831–1872). See Anecdotes of Oyasama 6: Seeing His Heart for an account describing their marriage.
  2. Koemon Murata (1821–1886; his given name can also be spelled “Koyemon”) was a follower from Senzai Village who received the Sazuke of Gohei and Fertilizer in 1864. He is mentioned in passing in The Life of Oyasama[1. pp. 36, 38, and 72
  3. Selections 50, 140, and 200.
  4. The villages of Mishima and Shoyashiki (the latter the traditional name of the village where the Nakayamas lived and the location of the Jiba) were merged in 1877 (Tenrikyo jiten p. 857). The current address of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters is 271 Mishima-cho, Tenri, Nara, Japan.
  5. Serizawa 2003, p. 102.