Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 111

111. Being Awakened in the Morning

The following is one of the instructions which Oyasama gave to Yoshie Iburi:

“Early rising, honesty, and work. There is a great difference in merit between being awakened and waking up someone else. Working in the shadows and praising others is honesty. If you do not put into practice what you hear, you will become a lie. Work on top of work, saying to yourself, ‘Just a little more, just a little bit more’; this is not greed, it is work that comes from true sincerity.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 94

My research / take

It was not until I read Koji Sato sensei’s Omichi no joshiki I realized that in Anecdotes 111 Oyasama is described elaborating on the very same values she taught to Yoshie Iburi’s father Izo several years before (Anecdotes 29). Further, as noted by Yoshinaru Ueda sensei, the instructions Oyasama provide to Yoshie are detailed in comparison to what she gives to Izo:

While it is common for almost everyone to have heard about the teaching of early rising, honesty, and work, this is a set of concrete and greatly splendid instructions in which Oyasama explains the importance of each aspect. Thus there is a significant difference between the value of waking up on one’s own after some effort and waking up only after someone has told one to do so many times over.1

I find it significant that Oyasama is described going out of her way to elaborate on the values Izo had so admirably embodied to his daughter Yoshie. Although there is a Japanese proverb that claims “Children grow up watching the backs of their parents” (ko wa oya no senaka o mite sodatsu), I cannot help but wonder if Anecdotes 111 is implying that it ought not to be taken for granted that children can be sufficiently taught and led by their parents’ example alone. It may be worthwhile for a third person who is both respected by a parent and child to teach and elaborate on the traits that are valued in society. As an often quoted Igbo idiom goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

As for the substance of Oyasama’s alleged instruction itself, Hideo Nakajima sensei has linked the merit one can gain from early rising, honesty, and (hard) work with the “merit that cannot be seen by the eye” that is discussed in Anecdotes 63.

I also have a few objections with the translation. I would probably have translated it as:

Early rising, honesty, and work. There is a great difference in merit and demerit between waking someone and having someone wake you in the morning. Working hard and praising people out the sight of others is honesty. If you do not put into practice what you hear, you yourself will become a lie. To say yourself “Just a little more, just a little more” when working in addition to what you have already done does not amount to greed. This is work as it should be; it is work instilled with your sincerity.

Admittedly, most of the translation is fine the way it has been already published, but I do have a major gripe with how the phrase “kage de yoku hataraki” was translated as “Working in the shadows.” While the Japanese phrase literally does mean this, it must be noted (as I have done so earlier in an endnote of an earlier post) that there is no connotation of sneaky or suspicious behavior in the Japanese kage that the English “in the shadows” has. A more appropriate rendering would be “behind the scenes” or “(inconspicuously) out of the sight of others.”

Further reading


  • Nakajima Hideo. 2000. “Me ni mien toku.” In Oyasama no oshie to gendai — Oyasama go-tanjō nihyaku nen kinen kyōgaku kōza shirīzu 1998 nen. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 171–188.
  • Ueda Yoshinaru. 1976. “Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama-den itsuwa-hen ni tsuite.” Michi no dai 65 (May 1976), pp. 26–43.


  1. Ueda, p. ?