Life of the Foundress, Part 7

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. 33–6. 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 Nine.


The following year, 1883, there was a long drought. At that time Shoyashiki and Mishima was called Mishima Village, and they were suffering most from the drought. The rice-fields were completely dried up and the rice plants began to wither. So the villagers confined themselves for three days in the grove of the village shrine offering prayers for rain, but no rain came.

So they came to [Oyasama’s] Residence and asked to perform a Service praying for rain, but because of the severe police control, the request could not be granted. The villagers, however, would not go back, spending the while day at the gate of Her Residence. Feeling sorry for them, [Oyasama] was asked and She replied: “To rain or not to rain, all is the will of God. Rain will fall according to your sincerity. Perform the Service at once.” They were elated to hear this, and with full faith, set preparations for the Service of praying for rain.

First, they performed the Service at the southeast corner of the village. Yet the sky remained bright and clear. They repeated the Service at the southwest corner of the village, and a speck of black cloud suddenly rose in the eastern sky above the mountains. They prayed again for rain at the northwest corner, and it began to pour. It rained so heavily that it seemed to pierce the masks worn by the performers. Shaking the water out of the sleeves of their ceremonial robes, they continued the Service. One of them later wrote: “Our joy was beyond description.” It still raining heavily, they repeated the Service at the northeast corner. Then they went to express their appreciation at the [Jiba], when several policemen immediately appeared at the scene.

Two of them went to the east of Takimoto Village to settle a water dispute there, and the others arrested all those present at the Service by running a rope through their belts. [Oyasama] was also summoned to the station, and was detained for the night with the others. The next day they were all released upon payment of a fine.

The grounds for the fine were disturbance of the water and supply and of traffic. The former ground was stated because, in interrogating [Oyasama], they came on the words uttered in Her answer, “To rain or not to rain, all is the will of God.” In other words, the authorities maintained that the villagers of Mishima had by their prayers caused the rain to fall on Mishima at the expense of other villages. This constituted obstruction of the water supply to the other villages. The latter ground was because by their performance of the Service on the road, people gathered and obstructed traffic.


Again in March and August of the following year, 1884, [Oyasama] was detained for 12 days each time. August, being in the midst of summer, must have been quite unbearable for Her, who was then 87. But [Oyasama] used to say, “From a knot buds will sprout”1 and, “They come to stop Me; but they are digging out the hidden treasure.” Again in the Ofudesaki, “That they come and call Me out is the will of God the Parent, and for a clear purpose.”

So She always gladly responded to the summons from the police station out of Her sheer parental affection for Her children.

When [Oyasama] was released from the station, thousands of people met Her along the road, and hundreds of rickshaws accompanied Her. When [Oyasama] appeared in the distance, they clapped their hands to worship Her. The policemen, seeing this, would come up and threaten the people with drawn swords. But as soon as the policemen had passed, the people resumed clapping their hands. So a real [bud] came out from the [knot] of trouble every time She was summoned to the police station, and the way of faith spread far and wide.


The next year, 1886, [Oyasama] was summoned to the police station and held for half a month during the cold season. The cause of the affair was that about 30 of the faithful followers began to perform the holy dance upstairs in an inn named Tofuya; they were soon detected by the police, and several policemen from the Ichinomoto Branch Station came to take away [Oyasama], the first Shinbashira and two other persons concerned. Then [Oyasama] was sentenced to 12 days detention and another three days for interrogation. During the detention, the kept [Oyasama] sitting in a room with bars across the window into which one could look from the street during the day. Probably they thought that if She were thus exposed before the public gaze, the conversions would cease.

On one occasion when [Oyasama] was looking out through the bars of the window, She caught sight of a peddler selling sweets on the street, and told Her attendant Hisa to buy some of the sweets. (Hisa was Her 20-year-old granddaughter from the Kajimoto family.) When Hisa asked why She wanted the sweets, [Oyasama] said that She wanted to give them to the policeman, because he must be quite bored. Hisa told Her that in the police station it is not permitted to do such things. Then [Oyasama] nodded and seemed to understand.

In the evening, when it was time for [Oyasama] to sleep, ignoring the wintry cold, She would go to sleep in the unmatted room with Her head on the clogs bound together with Hisa’s sash as a pillow. She was detained like this for half a month, and when She was released She was met by the same number of rickshaws as before. But when She reached Her Residence, policemen stood guard at the gate facing the [Jiba], the followers slowly dispersed.

  1. Old translation: “From a joint good sprouts shall appear.”