57. A Boy Should Be Accompanied by His Father
In the summer of 1877, nine-year-old Narazo Yaoi of Izushichijo Village, Yamato Province, was playing with two or three neighborhood children in the Saho River that flowed on the west side of the village. Somehow his penis was bitten by a leech. It did not hurt much at the time, but two or three days later it became swollen. Although there was no pain, his parents were worried because it was such an important organ. Doctors were consulted, faith healing was tried and the best of care was given, but there was no sign of recovery.
Jirokichi Kita’s aunt, Ko Yaoi, of the same village, and Isaburo Masui’s mother, Kiku, were already devout followers at that time. So they urged Narazo’s grandmother, Koto, to join the faith. Being religious by nature, she readily agreed. But Narazo’s father, Sogoro, was only interested in farming and he laughed at those who were religious. Koto asked him, “Do you wish to cancel my sixtieth birthday celebration or do you wish to join the faith?* Please choose one or the other.” So Sogoro finally consented to join. It was January 1878.
“The pillar of the family. This is a trouble of the pillar. You will be saved according to your mind.”
From then on grandmother Koto and Narazo’s mother, Naka, took turns returning with him to the Residence, a distance of about six kilometers, every third day. But there was no sign of any blessing.
In the middle of March 1878, while Koto was visiting the Residence with Narazo, Chusaku Tsuji told them, “We are told that ‘a boy should be accompanied by his father.’ Please have Sogoro himself return here accompanying his own son.” Whereupon Koto returned home and asked Sogoro, “Won’t you please return to the Residence?”
So Sogoro returned to Jiba, accompanying Narazo, on March 25th and returned home that same evening. However, Narazo’s penis became swollen the following morning, just as it did when it was first bitten. But on the morning of the twenty-eighth he received the blessing of a complete cure. The whole family was happy beyond description. Narazo, then a boy of ten years, was thrilled from the bottom of his heart to have received the providence of God the Parent. This became the foundation of his devout faith for the rest of his life.
* In Japan, the sixtieth birthday is a very auspicious event. It is customary for the children to provide the celebration for their parent, and the parent would lose face in the community if he was not celebrated.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 49–50.
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“From the records of Harumichi Daikyokai in 1955.
“Narazo Yaoi was installed as the head of Seishin-ko Confraternity in 1893. He established Harumichi Fukyojimu-Toriastukai-sho (mission station). He also promulgated the teachings in the Kyushu and Shinshu regions. His efforts led to the founding of Hinaga Daikyokai.”
The “60th birthday” mentioned above is known as kanreki in Japanese.
One of the many positive aspects I find about the Tenrikyo faith is that there is no big deal about saying the word “penis” in church. So, my devoted readers, if you ever find yourself in the position of leading the reading of Anecdotes 57 at a church or religious gathering elsewhere, I encourage you to say, “Somehow his penis was bitten by a leech” out loud and proud!
Joking and silliness aside, however, when I was preparing to write this post, I was initially filled with a gnawing doubt about the blessing Narazo received. Enough time had passed since his manhood was so unceremoniously violated by a specimen belonging to the Hirudinea subclass of invertebrates that my intermittently cynical and skeptical mind thought, Wasn’t it more than possible that the leech bite naturally healed on its own without divine intervention?
Yet when I reread the story described above with more care, the timing of Narazo’s recovery as occurring three days after his father’s first pilgrimage to Jiba is too much of a coincidence for me to dismiss.1
Furthermore, I would have to concede the faithful would attribute the body healing on its own as a phenomenon that easily falls within the realm of God’s protection.
Lastly, it is notable that it was Chusaku Tsuji who shared to the Yaois that “a boy should be accompanied by his father” since he learned a similar lesson himself on the occasion of his own son’s illness (as covered previously in Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 9).
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- The number three is symbolic in that the third aspect of “ten aspects of God’s complete providence” is given the sacred name of Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto, which is, “in the human body, the providence of the female organ, of skin and joining; in the world, the providence of joining in general.” The number three therefore is associated with the process of “joining” or “connecting” with various forms of God’s protection in general. ↩