Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 54

54. Play It with All Your Heart

Yoshie Iburi had been learning the shamisen from Oyasama Herself since 1877, when Yoshie was twelve. During the three years of learning, Yoshie was also given instructions in spiritual attitude. Oyasama taught:

“You must get all the instruments at any cost.

“Even if you have not practiced enough, be seated in front of the instrument and play it with all your heart. God will accept your heart.

“Dear Yoshie, pluck ‘position three’ and ‘position two’ in succession. It makes a tune for hito-o-tsu.* In this way, practice the shamisen.”


* Hitotsu: literally, ‘one.’ This word begins the first verse of eleven of the twelve chapters of the Sacred Songs for the Service.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 47

Translation of “Sawa’s note

“[Based on] the oral account of Yoshie Nagao.”

My research / take

I probably would translate “You must get all the instruments at any cost” as “By all means, make sure you have everything ready before you play” and “It makes a tune for hitotsu” as “Doesn’t that give you the notes for hitotsu?”

Yoshinaru Ueda appears to imply in a talk he once gave that Oyasama’s words (“Even if you have not practiced enough, be seated in front of the instrument and play it with all your heart. God will accept your heart”) are an encouraging instruction for Tenrikyo churches that do not have enough members who can regularly participate in its monthly services to fulfill the required dancer and instrument positions.

Ueda sensei suggests that if the church head minister asked a person just to sit in front of an instrument for the duration for the service even if he or she could not play it, as the months go by, he or she would gradually find it in his or her heart to make the attempt to learn and play it.

It appears that some churches actually implement this suggestion; I have heard at a particular church, members placed a baby in a basket in front of an instrument with the hope that the position would be filled someday in the future.

A particular Tenrikyo publication offers the following:

It appears that the lesson here is that we ought not to refrain from participating in the service merely because we cannot play an instrument. It is important that we be perform with a forward-looking attitude that thinks, “At all cost, by all means possible” (Ikiru kotoba, p. 110).


  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
  • Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1995. Ikiru kotoba: Tenrikyō Oyasama (kyōso?) no oshie. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
  • Ueda Yoshinaru. 1976. “Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama-den itsuwa-hen ni tsuite.” Michi no dai 65 (May 1976), pp. 26–43.

Further reading