Life of the Foundress, Part 4

The following is an excerpt of “The Life of the Foundress” by Yoshinaru Ueda as it appears in Tenrikyo: Its History and Teachings (1966), pp. 25–8. Note that this excerpt has been slightly revised to reflect current translation styles.

The content below more or less corresponds what appears in The Life of Oyasama, Chapter Three, Four, and Five.

Gathering a following

As the rumor of miraculous safe childbirth spread all over Yamato Province, there began to appear in the country a large number of worshippers, who crowded about Her with devotion even calling Her a living deity or the deity of childbirth.

Soon after, on the 26th day of each month, in the year 1864, so many followers began to assemble that the worshipping place was too small to accommodate them all. For after the main house had been sold, there remained only a wretched cottage, so that no more than 30 could enter. Then [the worshippers] began to talk of the need of a large worshipping place.

It was during this period that Izo Iburi appeared to give thanks for his wife who was saved from illness after childbirth. He asked as a token of his gratitude to be allowed to dedicate a shrine to God the Parent, but [Oyasama] did not accept the offer at once, saying, “No shrine is needed. But build a small place for worship.” Then he asked what size of building and [Oyasama] replied, “Build a house of one tsubo (approximately six feet). But you may make it bigger if you like.”

Then after consulting, [the worshippers] decided to build a house measuring 21 feet by 36 feet: they set plans for the construction on 9/13, in the first year of Ganji (1864), and raised the framework on 10/26 of the same year. Although they had many difficulties during construction, they managed to finish the interior furnishings during the winter of that year. But when it was completed, their minds became even more invigorated and the way of faith extended all over Yamato Province.

With the extension of the teachings of God the Parent, censure and opposition from other religious bodies soon arose. In 1866, two Buddhist priests came and expressed their opposition by violence, stabbing the mats with their swords. Kokan faced them and earnestly tried to make them understand what had been taught by God the Parent. Confronted with the validity of what she said, the priests soon retired.

In the following year, 1866, ascetics of the Fudoin Temple at Koizumi Village, burst into the house with drawn swords, broke two big drums and tore down the lanterns. This was the most violent of the attacks.

Teaching the Service

Soon after, [Oyasama] taught the words and movements of the Tsutome or Service for the first time:

“All ills sweep away, save us please, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto.”

It was on this occasion that the movement was first adopted in the Service. For up to that time, the Service had been performed by repeating the name of God the Parent, ‘Namu Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto; Namu Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,’ to the [rhythm] of wooden clappers.

Later the movement of Service brought to its final form. In 1870, [Oyasama] taught the second and fourth sections of the Mikagura-uta, and in 1875, the accompanying words and movements of Kagura Teodori were almost completed; then the 11 kinds of movement were taught, and at last in 1882, the present words of the Service were completed.

At the very beginning of the world, God the Parent created mankind out of [God’s] earnest desire to share with them [the Joyous Life].

Mankind, however, ignoring the will of God the Parent who created them to live [the Joyous Life] in the truest sense of the word, misuse their minds which were granted to them as their own, and becoming self-willed, they come to regard life as a gloomy state.

God the Parent, feeling pity for their plight, appeared at the Original Residence, as [God] had already promised at the creation of mankind to appear in person to save the world. Kagura Teodori is the fundamental Service for salvation which God the Parent taught us. Kagura and Teodori are called by the general name of Tsutome. The accompanying words of the Kagura are as follows:

“All ills sweep away, save us please, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto.”1

“Just a word to you, to what God is saying listen please. Any wrong thing to you, I will never say. With this world’s earth and heaven as the model. Husband and wife were created and thus came to be. This is this world’s beginning.”2

“All ills sweeping away, to save you I hasten. One and all purified, then Kanrodai.”3

The Kagura-zutome is performed in such a manner as to represent [God the Parent’s] act of creation of mankind at the Jiba where the Kanrodai stands as the symbol of human creation. Ten of the Service performers, wearing their respective masks, move in unison around the Kanrodai [at center], to the music of nine [musical] instruments accompanying the Sacred Songs, each person receiving one of the graces of God the Parent an re-enacting with movement all of [God’s] functions at the creation of human beings. When the [Service performers] perform the Service in [unison], each one melting into the divine heart, all manner of divine protection with [God the Parent’s] marvelous power of creation will be granted: we shall be saved from disease or family troubles, and the world will be changed into that of [the Joyous Life]. Teodori or holy dancing, which forms the Tsutome with Kagura-zutome, is performed irrespective if place and time, while Kagura-zutome is performed at the Jiba alone.

The Kagura-zutome has three other appellations, namely: Yōki-zutome ([Joyous Service]), Tasuke-zutome ([Salvation Service]), Kanrodai no Tsutome (Service around the Kanrodai).

Thus the name, Mikagura-uta, has been given to the Songs for Kagura-zutome and Teodori.

When [Oyasama] was 70 years old, from the [lunar first month] though [eighth month] of 1867, the Mikagura-uta which is composed of 12 stanzas of Songs was revealed. Hereafter She spent three years teaching the corresponding movements of the Teodori dance.


  1. Old translation: “Sweep away all evils and save us, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto.”
  2. Old translation: “Mark this, which your Parent says to you; for I never tell you anything wrong. After the manner of heaven and earth of this universe, I proceeded to create man and wife. This was the dawn of human life.”
  3. “Hasten Thou to save us, sweeping away all evils. When we have completely purified our minds, vouchsafe to establish the Kanrodai.”