Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 52

52. Learn the Koto*

In 1877, Oyasama told Tomegiku Tsuji, who was then eight years old:

“Learn to play the koto.”

But her father, Chusaku, ignored the instruction, saying, “As we are farmers, she does not need to learn to play the koto.”

After several days, Chusaku developed a large boil on his right arm. He reflected on his condition and realized that he should have his daughter learn to play the koto. So he made up his mind and went to Koriyama to buy a koto.

While he was talking with the shopkeeper at the music shop, the boil on his right arm burst and the pain stopped completely. He realized that this indeed had been God’s intention. Carrying a big koto on his shoulder with the arm which had hurt until shortly before, he went home in high spirits.


* Koto: a thirteen-stringed long zither which is plucked with picks. This instrument is one of the women’s instruments used in the performance of the Service.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 45–46

Translation of “Sawa’s note

“[From] Koshiro Masui’s Mikagura-uta katari gusa.”

Supplemental information from Taimo (translation)

“Tomegiku Tsuji: Born in 1870 in Toyoda Village (currently a section of Tenri City) as the third daughter of Chusaku and Masu.

“She performed the koto in 1880 when the three stringed instruments were included in the Service for the first time.

“She passes away in 1910 at the age of 41.”

My take / research

Tomegiku Tsuji appears in the pages of The Life of Oyasama describing an event known as “identification of the Jiba,” i.e., marking the specific location to place the Kanrodai. To briefly sum up this significant episode, Oyasama had said on 5/25/1875, “Since tomorrow is the 26th of the month, the Residence must be swept very clean.”1

Followers who had happened to be there on that day did as she said and swept the grounds of the Residence. On the next day, Oyasama then walked the Residence precincts and her feet were drawn to a particular spot were she could not move forward or to the side. After marking this spot, she asked others to walk the same area with a blindfold.

Everyone’s feet stopped at the same marked spot with the exception of Masu Tsuji. When she walked the area again with her six-year-old daughter Tomegiku on her back, her feet were drawn to the spot just like the others. Regarding this, I have elsewhere written, “When we realize that two years later, Oyasama taught taught Tomegiku Tsuji to play the koto for the Service, we can see that a profound causality (innen) connected Tomegiku to the Residence.”

Anecdotes 52 gives some background information before Tomegiku began learning the koto, just one of the three stringed instruments of the Service. It is just another episode implying how an ailment of some kind — in this case, it is a boil on the arm of Tomegiku’s father Chusaku after he initially dismisses Oyasama’s instruction — serves as God’s “guidance” that draws “Service performers” (Tsutome ninju) to Oyasama.2

In fact, the performers of the other two stringed instruments (the shamisen and the kokyu) are also drawn to Oyasama through some form of guidance via pain or physical disorder (as will be presented in Anecdotes 53 and 55).

I’ll end this post by offering several verses from the Ofudesaki that echoes the theological theme regarding divine guidance and its connection to drawing the performers required for the Service:

Illness and pain of whatever kind do not exist. They are none other than the hastening and guidance of God.

The reason for My hastening, if you should ask, is that I desire performers for the Service.

What do you think this Service is? It is none other than the means to universal salvation.

Do not think this salvation is for the present time alone. It will be the Divine Record for eternity.


I impatiently await the performers of the Service to gather quickly. What are you close to Me thinking?

Nothing should be called illness. Should your body be afflicted, it is God’s call for your service.


I do not say where the performers will be found. All will come because of disorders of the body.

These disorders are from My guidance, admonition, or anger.3 Ponder, each of you.

What are your thoughts on hearing this talk? I appeal to you repeatedly out of My deep love for you.



  • 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.
  • Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2008. “Oyasama: Koto o narai ya.” Taimō 478 (October 2008), pp. 16–17.

Further reading


  1. The Life of Oyasama, p. 96.
  2. See earlier posts from my Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama project such as 8: “By a Slight Illness” and 40: “Stay Here” regarding the theological topic of divine guidance.
  3. I have recently come to the conclusion that perhaps “anger” might not be the best translation for “rippuku” (りいふく), which I find to be fundamentally different from typical human anger (haradachi) in a number of ways. Although I was working on a lengthy post/blog on this very issue, I abandoned it halfway since it was starting to get a little over my head. In any case, I was mulling over “(divine) providence coming forth” (i.e., rii fuku) as a possible alternative translation for “rippuku.”