99. Wedding in Osaka
One day in March 1882, Unosuke Tosa abruptly left his home in Muya without telling his wife, carrying only the shrine of God the Parent on his back. This move was made after a long struggle with his adoptive parents who strongly opposed his single-hearted devotion to missionary work. Afterward he began to spread the teachings at Sangenya in Osaka.
Sometimes he felt forlorn and helpless when he thought of Masa, his wife, whom he had left at home, but he was glad that he was living closer to Jiba. It was his greatest joy to see Oyasama by returning to Jiba. Because nothing was more pleasant for him than being with Her as long as possible, he kept staying at the Residence. On such a particular day, Unosuke was weeding at the Residence in the warm spring sun. He was not aware that Oyasama was standing behind him until She spoke to him smiling:
“You had better return to Osaka quickly. There will be a wedding there.”
Unosuke said, “Yes, I see,” but he had not the slightest idea who was going to be married.
Thinking about Oyasama’s puzzling remark over and over, he returned to his lodgings in Osaka and found a new pair of woman’s clogs at the entrance. His wife, Masa, was there. She clung madly to her husband’s chest and wept and wept without saying a word. After a long time she looked up at him and tearfully begged him to return, saying, “Please come back to Muya with me. Your missionary work will be no problem. Forgive me, I’ve been so weak until now. But now I am resolved. I will persuade my parents to allow you to pursue your life of faith.”
Because Tosa knew well what would happen if he should return home and being determined not to be swayed by her love, he gave no answer. It was at that time that he suddenly recalled Oyasama’s words which he had heard at Jiba. He had not even considered being reinstated in the Tosa family. But when he thought it over carefully, he was able to understand the true meaning of Oyasama’s words that it was he himself who was the groom in Osaka. He finally resolved, “I was completely wrong in forsaking my family because of their opposition to my life of faith. I shall again return home and no matter how great the hardships may be, I will accept them all joyfully. Single-heartedly I will dedicate myself; even if I should die, I will be happy.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 81–83
Insight/supplemental information from Takenao Tosa sensei1
The events described in Anecdotes 99 are said to have occurred a year after Tosa Unosuke was saved from a near shipwreck (Anecdotes 88). It had been just five years since Unosuke embraced the faith. The numerous knots he was shown during this short period of time were harsh indeed, as if God was demanding a do-or-die resolution from him on each occasion.
On the other hand, one notices that even though he embraced the faith after his marriage, he constantly appears to be alone when practicing his faith. His family and even his wife, Masa, are conspicuously absent in narratives describing this time period.
Although he had faith in the path whose goal is the Joyous Life, Unosuke ended up cutting the ties with his family in order to engage in missionary work in the name of the path. The developments described in “Wedding In Osaka” turned out to be an important tipping point in regards to his faith.
Oyasama had told Unosuke, who ran away from his family in order to continue his faith on his own: “You had better return to Osaka quickly. There will be a wedding there.”
These words do not merely signal that Oyasama was aware that Masa had come to Osaka. She was also teaching Unosuke the importance of having faith together as a married couple.2 One cannot help but feel that these were words expressing her parental love that sought to firmly reunite Unosuke and Masa.
Unosuke then made a firm resolution, saying, “I shall again return home and no matter how great the hardships may be, I will accept them all joyfully.” When he and Masa went back to Muya, a path of tribulations awaited as his adoptive parents disowned him in anger. Nevertheless, Unosuke and Masa rented a deserted warehouse, enshrined God on the second floor, and embarked on a path exclusively devoted to saving others.
Although they lived in extreme poverty, Unosuke scrambled about engaging in nioigake (spreading the fragrance) and o-tasuke (salvation work/efforts) while doing farm work on the side. Masa worked at a mom-and-pop candy store to help them eke out a living and earn money use for pilgrimages to Jiba. By roughly 1884 or so Unosuke put together pilgrimage groups to return to the Residence almost on a monthly basis.
To quote Takenao Tosa sensei’s closing remarks (he is a fifth-generation descendant of Unosuke Tosa sensei):
In today’s society that is still far from the Joyous Life, I presume that everyone has their own hardships to overcome. Among these hardships, the most trying of them all is probably the opposition of one’s own family.
Even while one may admire the teachings and happen to be basking in God’s protection, one might tend to think that one just ought to believe alone if one is unable to gain understanding from one’s family.
Unosuke went to Osaka to avoid the opposition from his family, but his efforts in which he exclusively devoted toward saving others was true sincerity itself. Can this be the reason why Oyasama worked to firmly reunite his matrimonial bond with Masa?
But certainly, the scene where Unosuke left his family to singly devote himself to faith is not something we can easily emulate in this day and age.
Regardless, I believe this story provides the key on how to contemplate any opposition from family. I would imagine that, as in Unosuke’s case, one must first convey the teachings to one’s spouse and keep one’s mind united with his or hers. When one resolves to do so, one is able to reflect the joy of faith to one’s relatives and other families as well.
The relationships between married couples, parents/children, and brothers/sisters are indispensable ties that have been provided by God the Parent. When one’s own flesh and blood begin to show opposition, it is important not to run away from this reality but to steadily aim to establish a faith that can be shared by the entire family.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
- Tosa Takenao. 2009. “Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie 12.” Tenri jihō No. 4131 (May 24, 2009), p. 3.
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 88–92.
- The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 52: The Path of Repayment to God
- Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 88: From A Dangerous Place