Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 115

115. Devote Yourself Single-Heartedly to Saving Others (Japanese title: o-tasuke o hitosuji ni)

Zenkichi Tachibana, who became an official of the Shimmei-gumi Fraternity, began to believe after he was healed of cataracts in April or May 1880, and soon afterward his father was healed of lumbago. For several years after this, he was busily engaged in efforts to save others. Strangely enough, he was very healthy as long as he was doing missionary work, but whenever he stayed at home, he did not feel well. One day, he asked Oyasama about this. Then Oyasama taught him:

“From now on you are to devote yourself single-heartedly to saving others. Do not be concerned about things of the world. You need not know such things. The path is endurance and hardships.”

Zenkichi held on to these words as tightly as to life itself, not forgetting for an instant; and he became more and more single-heartedly devoted to saving others.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 96

Translation of Sawa’s note
“Tachibana was a procurement officer[1] for Shinmei-gumi (Ashitsu Daikyokai). He lived behind the home of Izutsu Umejiro (the director of Shinmei-gumi) located on 3-chome Honden Avenue, Nishi Ward, Osaka City. He embraced the faith after he was blessed with a recovery from sokohi[2] and his father from senki[3] soon after circa the third lunar month of 1880.

“He worked as a fishmonger by day and ran an udon restaurant by night while engaging in missionary work. When a neighbor asked him to cure the eye ailment of a relative — the daughter of Uota (Uoda?) Yasu who lived in Kobe — she was blessed with a recovery. It is said that this marked the beginning of Ashitsu’s presence in Hyogo.”

Supplemental information from Taimo
“Tachibana Zenkichi: Born in Ansei 4 (1857).

“He embraced the faith after he was blessed with a recovery due the efforts of Izutsu Umejiro, the founding minister of Ashitsu. He then strove to engage in missionary work while running a fish shop.

“He passed away for rebirth in 1923 at the age of 67.”

My take
That Tachibana Zenkichi felt under the weather when he was at home and not engaging in missionary work would be attributed to the notion of divine guidance. The concept of divine guidance has been already covered in my discussion of Anecdotes no. 8. Other selections from Anecdotes that touch upon this theological theme are nos. 40 (which includes links to other selections covered until no. 40), 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, and 62.

Oyasama then issued a command directed to Tachibana to exclusively engage in missionary work and tells him not to concern himself or know about matters regarding the world. While this may be construed as revealing a bias against having knowledge of the world in which we live, I interpret the instruction as one directed specifically to Tachibana. (The instruction begins with “Anta wa“; “As for you. . .”)

Oyasama’s closing remark — “The path is endurance and hardships” — may then be understood as a message anticipating that the road ahead for Tachibana would not be easy. Oyasama’s own journey was one filled with much hardship and privation, so her words is said to have served as a great source of encouragement to him as he strove his best to fulfill her command to devote himself “single-heartedly to saving others.”

I personally would be quite discouraged if someone was to tell me the road ahead will be a struggle. (I would probably respond with, “Gaah, don’t tell me that!”) This just shows that Tachibana Zenkichi was made up of much tougher stuff than I.


Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2006. “Oyasama: kore kara o-tasuke o ichijō ni tsumeru no ya de.” Taimō 447 (March 2006), pp. 16-17.

Further reading
Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama no. 94: Tea Is Ready
The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, Part 63: “Record It In Your Mind”


[1] As I have previously translated “shusen-kata” as “procurement officer” before, I will stick with this term even though it is translated in English as “official” in Anecdotes no. 115 above.
[2] Translated in the English as “cataracts.” Sokohi appears to have been a catchball term for a variety of eye ailments, as previously explained in this endnote.
[3] Translated in the English as “lumbago.” After some quick checking on Wikipedia Japan, I began wonder if such a translation is inaccurate at best. It appears that senki was a catchball term for various disorders of the lower body, including urethritis, gallstones, cystitis, and testicular inflammation (orchitis). My mainstay Japanese kokugo dictionary describes it as any ailment where pain is present in the organs of the center lower abdomen.