94. Tea Is Ready
One day Zenkichi Tachibana returned to Jiba from Osaka on foot, as was the custom in those days. Crossing plains and fields, he arrived in Nikaido Village after having covered a distance of about forty kilometers. Knowing it was only a little further to the Residence, Zenkichi’s spirits were lifted as he sang one of his favorite joruri ballads. As he approached the Residence, he stopped singing. When he was received by Oyasama, as soon as She saw him, She said:
“Zenkichi, you were singing in good voice, weren’t you? Tea is ready for you, as I knew that you were returning.”
Hearing these words Tachibana was so astonished and so deeply moved with gratitude that he was unable to speak even a word.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 78–79.
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“Zenkichi Tachibana was a procurement officer for the Shinmei-gumi. He lived behind the home of Umejiro Izutsu (the director of the Shinmei-gumi) located on Honden Boulevard, Nishi Ward, Osaka City. He embraced the faith circa May 1870 after acquiring relief from his own sokohi (eye ailment) and for his father’s lumbago. He worked as a fishmonger by day and ran an udon restaurant at night. It is said that Oyasama’s teachings spread to Hyogo Prefecture when a relative approached him to save a daughter from an eye ailment and she was subsequently healed.”
I can almost relate with Tachibana sensei in how he expressed his joy when he came relatively close to the Residence after walking all the way from Osaka. I’ve done my share of singing walking home after work, albeit not joruri, but usually something more along the likes of Ronnie James Dio (may he rest in peace), early Who, or a track from Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department.
As the sacred grounds where Oyasama lived came into view, Tachibana sensei probably felt it inappropriate to indulge in songs from the puppet theatre (as I likewise would find inappropriate singing something like “Die Young” or “Substitute” anywhere near the Main Sanctuary myself today). Thus, he stopped but only to find out that Oyasama had heard him singing and had prepared tea for him.
There seems to be an implication in Anecdotes 94 that Oyasama “knew” that Zenkichi was coming because she was the “Shrine of God.” I, however, subscribe to a more objective opinion, that Zenkichi was singing a little louder than he realized. Tenri is still a sleepy little backwater even today, so I imagine his voice must have easily carried all the way to Oyasama’s room.
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.