102. I Myself Will Call on Her
On June 18, 1882, hearing that Matsue Nakayama’s elder sister, Saku Matsumura of Kyokoji Village in Kawachi Province was suffering from gout, Oyasama said:
“Since this is the suffering of the elder sister, I Myself will call on her.”
Oyasama, dressed in red, accompanied by Izo Iburi and one other attendant, set out by rickshaw. Traveling the Kokubu Road, Oyasama arrived at the home of Eijiro Matsumura and stayed there for three days, tenderly taking care of Saku.
However, when word of Oyasama’s stay spread, many followers gathered at the Matsumura residence. So great was their number that officers were sent from the Kashiwara Branch Police Station, who ordered the gates closed and then maintained guard. In spite of this, many followers managed to get inside the house and pay their respects with coin offerings. Oyasama said:
“Those who come will come no matter how they are stopped. This will become a place of worship. It will become an uchiwake-basho, a place of salvation.”
Three days after Saku heard the teachings from Oyasama she returned to Jiba, and was completely cured in less than three weeks.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 86
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“Oyasama calls Saku ‘the elder sister’ due to the fact she was the older sister of her son Shuji’s wife Matsue Kohigashi. It is also said that Oyasama called Saku ‘the elder sister’ because she had been saved by her in a previous life. Eijiro Matsumura is the father of Kichitaro, who would later establish Takayasu Bunkyokai with the followers in the Kawachi region.
My take / research
I can only imagine what it would have felt like to see a woman dressed in red from head to toe travel by rickshaw. I somehow feel it would have been quite a sight, one that would have been difficult to overlook.
I find it interesting that Oyasama utilized the rickshaw on several occasions while her religious contemporary Nao Deguchi (1837–1918) perceived it to be “an evil influence and later forbade her followers to use” (Groszos-Ooms, p. 29). I am neither aware of Oyasama or Izo Iburi during his time as the Honseki ever demonstrating such an aversion against modern developments.
While police officers from Kashiwara were dispatched to the Matsumura home after followers came in an unrelenting stream to pay their respects to Oyasama, it is said that some people even leaped the fence wall to get in. (It may be worthy of note that large gatherings of people were under strict scrutiny by law enforcement at the time.) Eijiro Matsumura noted in his diary: “From very early morning, many people from the Tenrin-O-Kosha Confraternity came and the situation was serious the whole day. The same amount of people came to worship at night. Officers from Kashiwara came again and again.”
Although this information is somewhat peripheral to Anecdotes 102, the following Ofudesaki verse is purportedly directed to the Kohigashis, the family Saku and Matsue were originally from:
Of the five, keep two at home. God will take charge of the other three.
The Ofudesaki chushaku (Annotations to the Ofudesaki) elaborates on the meaning of this verse as follows:
This verse is directed to the Kohigashi household, the household Shuji’s wife Matsue was born and raised in. Masakichi Kohigashi was the father of five children: Saku, Matsue, Masataro, Kamekichi (later changed to Sadajiro), and Otokichi (later changed to Senjiro). God the Parent is telling Masakichi to have two of his children to tend to matters within (i.e., matters concerning the Kohigashi household) and have three of his children serve God the Parent. The verse is expressing that God the Parent shall secure his household for eternity if he follows these instructions.
The verse itself is admittedly quite vague. It is not clear what “keeping two at home” or having God to “take charge of the other three” means. The annotation for the English Ofudesaki, is in my opinion, frustratingly useless (“In the Kohigashi family, there were three sons and two daughters.”)
All that can be said for certainty is that the two Kohigashi daughters Saku and Matsue did devote themselves to the path. My rudimentary knowledge of Tenrikyo history informs me it is unclear whether any of the three Kohigashi brothers made any moves to fulfill the instruction contained in the Ofudesaki 1:68.
A quick search through the online Osashizu comes up with a few brief appearances of the Kohigashi surname. Here are the results:
- Meiji 24  May 12: Kichitaro Matsumura seeks instructions regarding the illness of his grandmother, a Kohigashi (no first name is mentioned). He later asks if it would be proper to care for her in Byodoji Village (where the Kohigashi family lived) or in the Matsumura home.
- same year, June 30 and October 12: Kotama Kohigashi is brought up as a potential bride for Kikutaro Maegawa, a grandnephew of Oyasama.
- same year, October 30: The marriage proposal between Kotama and Kikutaro appears to proceed smoothly.
- Meiji 25  April 23: It appears that there is a request asking whether it would be suitable to negotiate the marriage with someone from the Kohigashi household in Byodoji or with Masataro (Kotama’s father?) in Osaka.
- same day: There is a request regarding Sadajiro Kohigashi and how he is not listening to appeals to refrain from moving to Osaka and selling the family home and fields.
- same year, August 21: A request is made to have the wedding between Kotama and Kikutaro sometime in the ninth lunar month.
- same year, August 23: Request for the wedding to be held on lunar 10/1 at Oyasama’s Resting House (go-kyusokusho; Oyasama’s final physical living quarters that was treated as her sanctuary until the current one was built in 1933.)
- Meiji 36  May 27: Apparently, the marriage between Kotama and Kikutaro fails to pan out. (This may very well be connected to Kikutaro’s high-profile apostasy from the Tenrikyo organization in 1897.) Kotama Kohigashi is brought up as a potential marriage partner for Hisakichi Yoshiuchi.
- Meiji 37  July 11: A request is made to have a wedding between Ikutaro Masui, 42, and Fumi Kohigashi, 28.
The Tenrikyo jiten (encyclopedic dictionary) actually has an entry on Masataro Kohigashi. I offer a paraphrase of the information I found.
Masataro was the elder brother of Matsue. The Kohigashi family was a well-established, wealthy family in the Heguri region (now part of Ikoma, Nara and Yao/Higashi-Osaka).
In addition to farming, Masataro’s and Matsue’s father Masakichi lent to people in Gose, Ikaruga, and Horyuji. He is said to have been strict collecting interest rates. It is said that he had seven gold cups in his possession when he passed away.
While it is unknown whether such behavior rubbed off on his three sons, but Masataro, Sadajiro, and Senjiro, were all said to have had questionable morals.
Masataro is said to have been the worst of the lot by having spent his family fortune recklessly and falling into ruin after buying two horses plus indulging in gambling and womanizing.
Oyasama is said to have once declared: “As the Kohigashi clan is living beyond its means, no matter how many times they might reform themselves, the household is bound to collapse.”
I have already offered my thoughts on “uchiwake-basho” in Anecdotes 47.
- Arakitōryō Henshūbu. 2010. “Dendō shirīzu (series) sono 6: aramichi o yuku.” Arakitōryō 239 (May 26, 2010), p. i.
- Groszos-Ooms, Emily. 1993. Women and Millenarian Protest in Meiji Japan: Deguchi Nao and Ōmotokyō. Ithaca, NY: East Asia Program, Cornell University.
- Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, ed. 1997. Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
- Tenrikyō Kyōkai Honbu, ed. 1999 . Ofudesaki chūshaku. Tenri: Tenri Jihōsha.