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. 30–33. Note that this excerpt has been slightly revised to reflect current translation styles.
Expansion of the path and repression
In those days the faith of Tenrikyo showed a steady extension, spreading far and wide under Her perfect guidance, to Yamashiro, Iga, Osaka, and Kyoto. On the other hand, the extension of the faith gave rise to violent accusations against [Oyasama], which were all lodged at the Nara Police Station.
So in 1875, [Oyasama] Herself went to Nara in answer to a summons from the Prefectural Office and was detained for three days, during which Her youngest daughter Kokan passed away. The government authorities began to tighten their restrictive policy, demanding why and by whose permission [Oyasama] was holding religious meetings.
So in 1876, Shuji went to the then Sakai Prefectural Office to take out and operating license for a public bath house and an inn. The primary purpose, in fact, was for the followers to gather and receive blessings and also to be cured of illness. But in the following year, 1877, someone brought to the police station, medicinal herbs which he had himself prepared, and made a false accusation against the bath house run by Shuji at Shoyashiki, saying they were using such herbs in the bath. Therefore any cures must be attributed to the herbs and the claim to spiritual healings untrue. So Shuji was summoned to the police station, and he was imprisoned for over 40 days.
In this way the repression by the police authorities became more and more severe, and finally centered on the performance of the Service. Faith is, of course, a matter of mind, so it cannot be bound, but the Service is expressed in voice and movement, so that the performance of the Service became the target for control. They accused the faithful of obstruction, saying, “You do the Service, beating on drums and dancing in the presence of God with masks on your faces, so that people crowd together out of curiosity. That is why you must not do the Service. If you do, we will take away this person.” “This person” meant, of course, [Oyasama]. Needless to say, to those faithful people, this was harder to bear than losing their own life.
On the other hand, as willed by God the Parent, this Service of Yōki-zutome was the very Service of Tasuke-zutome. And by the grace shown in the Service, the world was to be reformed into that of [the Joyous Life]. God the Parent was urging them to perform the Service for [manifold forms of] salvation. This state continued for 10 years till [Oyasama] hid Herself.
Later in 1880, a formal registration of member of the kō or [confraternity] was begun, and in the spring of 1881, the stone construction of the Kanrodai started. In the autumn of the same year, after two [sections] of the foundation had been set down, for unknown reasons the stone mason fled away and the work came to a stop.
In May the following year, the stones of the Kanrodai were removed by police authorities. Then the words of the third section of the Mikagura-uta were changed from ‘ichiretsu sumasu’ to ‘ichiretsu sumashite’, and from ‘ashiki harai’ to ‘ashiki harōte’. (From ‘world purifying’ to ‘having purified’; and from ‘sweeping away evil’ to ‘having swept away evil’.)
About this time God the Parent more clearly explained that people’s minds must be first purified before the Kanrodai can be set up. In the last part of the Ofudesaki [God the Parent] says:
There at the Jiba did I begin to create all the human beings of the world.
The Jiba is the native place of all people. This shall be our eternal home.
I am going to set up the Kanrodai to show the place where human beings were created.
When the Kanrodai is completed, nothing shall be impossible of achievement.
By then I shall have swept clean the minds of all people in the world.
[God the Parent] fully explained in the Ofudesaki what the Kanrodai is, and expressed [God’s] deep disappointment that the Kanrodai had been [confiscated] by the authorities, the Kanrodai which was to be set up, out of the parental affection of God the Parent, for saving mankind, and [God’s] earnest desire to sweep the minds of all people.
Persecution and interference by the authorities, which first centered on the performance of the Service and then on the construction of the Kanrodai, soon came to be directed against [Oyasama] Herself.
Soon after the [confiscation] of the Kanrodai in 1882, the authorities began to supervise religious bodies more and more closely, but nevertheless, the Service was successfully performed every day for 15 days, from 10/12 to 10/26.
Two days later, the expected summons arrived for [Oyasama]. The next day She went to the Nara Police Station and was sentenced to 12 days detention. At this time She was 85 years old. In prison, [Oyasama] would not touch a drop of water; still She returned in good health, to be met by over a thousand people, including a hundred rickshaws.