Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 50

50. Kosuke and Suma

Kiku Masui took her daughter, Masu (who later became Suma Murata) to visit Kiku’s parents for three days in March 1877 for the rendo* and returned home on the twentieth.

Masu was unable to get up the next morning because of a severe headache. Her mother scolded her in her effort to train her properly, so she finally got up. She still didn’t feel well the following morning, the twenty-second. So Masu wanted to return to the Residence. After receiving permission, she left her home in Izushichijo Village at eight o’clock in the morning, and reached the Residence at about ten o’clock. When Oyasama saw her, She said:

“Are you willing to marry into the Murata family in Senzai?”

Although this was totally unexpected, Masu answered Oyasama’s words with, “Yes, thank you.” Then Oyasama said:

“It is not good for you to decide by yourself. I would like to have your elder brother (Isaburo Masui) come.”

So Masu returned to her home in Izushichijo Village on the same day and told her brother about the proposal. By that time her headache had disappeared completely.

As this was God’s request, Isaburo decided to comply early the next morning. So he returned to the Residence on the morning of the following day, the twenty-third, and was received by Oyasama, who said:

“Will you give Omasu in marriage to Murata? If you agree, please come here together with Omasu on the twenty-sixth.”

Isaburo gratefully said, “Thank you very much,” and returned to Izushichijo Village.

When Iye Murata of Senzai returned to the Residence the next day, the twenty-fourth, Oyasama questioned her:

“Oiye, I have been waiting for your arrival. I wish to offer your family a bride. Do you want a bride for your son?”

Iye replied, “Thank you very much.” Then Oyasama told her:

“The Masui family will be here on the twenty-sixth with their daughter, so take her home.”

On the morning of the twenty-sixth, four members of the Masui family returned to the Residence. They were mother Kiku, elder brother and his wife, and Masu. They brought several dishes of dainty foods that were prepared and packed in a nest of boxes.

From Senzai, Kamematsu (who was twenty-six years old at that time) and his parents, Koyemon and Iye, his wife, returned to the Residence with sweet rice wine and several dishes in a nest of boxes.

In Oyasama’s room in the Nakaminami-Gatehouse, Oyasama first sipped the sweet rice wine, and then Kamematsu and Masu shared the rest of it from the same cup.

“You are going to Senzai only for a short while. You are to return here soon,”

Oyasama told Masu.

As Masu received the name “Suma” from Oyasama at that time, she was so renamed. Later, in 1879, Kamematsu received the name “Kosuke” from Oyasama and was thus also renamed.


* Rendo, also called renzo, is the farmers’ spring holiday. Although it was not observed on the same day in each village, the farmers made rice cakes and dumplings, and rested just before the busy season of planting and weeding. (Association for Folklore Research in Kinki District: Customs of Yamato. Institute for Folklore Study: A Glossary of Japanese Folk Customs).

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 43–44

Translation of “Sawa’s note

“[Based on] the oral account of Suma Murata.

“Kosuke was the second son of Ko(y)emon Murata. His eldest son Chobei opened the ‘Tofuya Inn’ in 1882. Kosuke and his wife also lived there.

“Koemon was originally from Senzai and had received the Sazuke of Gohei, Fan, and Fertilizer. Koemon and his wife I(y)e had moved into the Residence in the early years of the Meiji era (1868–1912).1 Although police surveillance had intensified circa 1884, it is said that Koemon and his family did not mind in the least. It can be assumed that such was the degree to which they were regarded as family [by Oyasama].

“Kosuke danced the position of Otonobe-no-Mikoto for the Service.

My take

The first thing that strikes me about Anecdotes 50 is how Masu Masui (Suma Murata) immediately agrees to Oyasama’s marriage proposal to Kamematsu Murata (Kosuke). She offers no hesitation on her part accepting a proposal that was a bolt from the blue. I consider this an example that best expresses what sunao refers to (also discussed last time in Anecdotes 49), many times better than any explanation that I can come up with.

Nevertheless, it is then notable that Oyasama does not seem satisfied with Masu’s reply, for she then tells her it was not good to decide only on her own; it was imperative to get her brother’s permission as well. It is important to note here that Masu’s father had passed away by this time (in 1868) and thus Isaburo, her elder brother, was essentially her legal guardian. (It is also notable that Oyasama did not tell Masu to get her mother’s permission but that she sought Ie Murata’s agreement to the proposal but not her husband’s.)

Rather than embodying a set of Tenrikyo values regarding marriage, I would argue that Oyasama was focused here to ensure that the marriage she was proposing would be socially acceptable. That Oyasama sought Isaburo’s permission reflects the Confucian values of the times.

I then find it noteworthy that Oyasama tells Masu/Suma: “You are going to Senzai only for a short while. You are to return here soon.” It implies that Oyasama had foretold that the Muratas would be a constant presence at the “Tofuya Inn” that was located south of the Residence. Or was it a self-fulfilling prophesy?

Nitpicking the translation

I’ve been tending to overlook translation issues lately in my Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama project. However,in this particular selection, I must mention that I doubt that most people would know what is meant by the expressions “a nest of boxes” or “dainty foods.” I happen to have changed these to “several delicacies packed in set of stacked lacquered boxes” elsewhere. “Sweet rice wine” is a translation of mirin.


  • Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, ed. 1997. Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.

Further reading


  1. The content of Anecdotes 50 itself contradicts this claim by Sawa. The Muratas may have frequented the Residence after 1868 or moved in sometime after this marriage (March 1877) but did not live there before then.