Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 113

113. Lullabies (Japanese title: komori-uta)

Oyasama was occasionally heard singing the following lullabies:

a)     Benkei was raised in Arima Province.

Three, four and five,

Seven weapons on his back,

He hurried to the Gojo Bridge.

b)     A small washbowl in his hand,

Jinjirobei drew water with a bucket,

Washed his hands and face,

And worshiped God. Shan, shan.

Sotaro Kajimoto, when in his twenties, heard this from Hisa Yamazawa.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 94-95

My research / take
Kajimoto Sotaro (1880 – 1955) was the eldest son of Matsujiro and (Kikuchi) Uno. Matsujiro was in turn the second son of Sojiro and Haru, making Sotaro the great-grandson of Oyasama. Nakayama Shinnosuke (1866 – 1914), who was originally a Kajimoto at birth and adopted into the Nakayama family when he was 16, was Sotaro’s uncle.

Yamazawa Hisa (1863 – 1932) was also a Kajimoto by birth and the younger sister of Matsujiro and Shinnosuke. 

Anecdotes no. 113 appears to have no apparent religious importance. It merely describes two lullabies Oyasama reputedly was heard singing.

As for the content of these lullabies, Benkei is a popular character from Japanese folklore. Gojo Bridge was the scene where the legendary first encounter between Benkei and his future master Minamoto no Yoshitsune allegedly took place.

It is unclear who “Jinjirobei” is. It seems to be a stand-in for a generic townsperson. One may come to the conclusion that at least this lullaby is religious if not banal in content.

I welcome anyone with more audacity than myself to come up with some numerological significance of the number of weapons Benkei is described having. (Now that’s a slippery slope if there was one. . . )

I found myself in a similar situation (I called it a “predicament” then) when preparing for no. 38 but stumbled upon a creative explanation after doing some hermeneutic contorting to account for why Oyasama is described indulging in what seems very like a secular pursuit (singing what appears to be a folk song), which potentially undermines the theological notion that everything she did after she became the “Shrine of God” on 10/26/1838 (lunar) was exclusively for the cause of “single-hearted salvation” of humanity.

Admittedly, I don’t feel as much incentive to come up with an explanation this time around as I did nearly a year ago. (Blame it on a festering skepticism. Heh heh heh.) But I feel a similar burst of creativity welling up inside me.

I find it curious that Oyasama is described here singing a couple of lullabies. Although the two lullabies are labeled a) and b) in English, they are labeled in original Japanese with the numbers 1 and 2 (albeit in kanji or Chinese characters). This translation makes the connection these very seemingly unextraordinary (content-wise) lullabies have with the counting-song format of the Twelve Songs less obvious. Or maybe I’m making something out of what happens to be an insignificant detail?

In any case, the Mikagura-uta, being that it is a collection of songs composed by Oyasama, who is considered by Tenrikyo adherents to be the Mother of creation reborn, can be considered as equivalents of divine lullabies. I remember me Mum once suggesting that people shouldn’t feel bad for sleeping during any Tenrikyo service since, after all, it is only natural for a child of Oyasama to fall asleep listening to these Songs that were composed by her.

You can even argue that falling asleep during the service is a sign that you have been saved!

Thanks, Mom, for the great insight!

Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho. 1997. Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha