Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 120

120. One in One Thousand (Japanese title: Sen ni hitotsu mo)

When Tamezo Yamazawa’s left ear became badly swollen around the spring of 1883, Oyasama told him:

“I say, live in, live in. You are wondering when the time will come. It will soon come. Understand this well.”

Moreover, Oyasama said to him:

“In whatever God has once said, there is no mistake, not even one in one thousand. The path shall become exactly as God has said.”

Tamezo recalled the words given to his father by Oyasama at the time of his father’s illness. As a result, he made a firm resolution to carry on his father’s faith. In the meantime, his mother and elder brother were urging him to settle down. So he asked Oyasama about this and received these words:

“Obey your elder brother as you would God and work for him for three full years. I shall accept it as if you had returned and worked here.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 99

My research / take
Anecdotes no. 120 presents a vexing problem of referring to a set of instructions Oyasama had given previously but does not disclose any more details regarding the exact content of these instructions or when they took place. A quick sweep through the reference sources I usually turn to initially came up empty. While there might be some sources out there I am not presently aware of that may later clear up this mystery with a higher degree of certainty, I’ll offer present speculations here which utilize a number clues I have stumbled upon.

According to Tenrikyo historian Takano Tomoji sensei, in 1876, Yamazawa Tamezo enrolled in a teacher’s school. In 1878, he succumbed to beriberi, which affected his legs. He was later cured when his father Ryojiro (also known as Ryosuke) suggested he go see Oyasama and she applied her sacred breath on his legs.

Ryojiro later succumbed to cholera. While the subsequent chain of events has been covered elsewhere on (Footsteps 72), Takano sensei offers a few details absent from this narrative.

According to Takano sensei’s account, Tamezo went to see Oyasama about his father’s condition before she told him to bring Ryojiro to the Residence. During the three-day prayer conducted on Ryojiro’s behalf, Tamezo is said to have prayed: “Please save my father. I promise that he will serve God. I shall take over the farm and serve [the path] also.”

Ryojiro subsequently was blessed with a recovery and began working at the Residence. He oversaw the accounting and was the de facto head of the Nakayama household after Oyasama’s son Shuji passed away in April 1881. Ryojiro himself later passed away on June 19, 1883, not long after the exchange between Oyasama and Tamezo, as described in Anecdotes no. 120, is alleged to have taken place.

I presume Ryojiro’s passing had some connection with the extreme pressure that came with his duties since Oyasama’s unapproved religious activities were under strict surveillance by local law enforcement. However, the sources I am familiar with offer no details of Ryojiro’s passing or of the circumstances that led to it.

On to deciphering the mystery of the phrase in Anecdotes no. 120, “Tamezo recalled the words given to his father by Oyasama at the time of his father’s illness.”

There is a slight problem with this phrase, a misrepresentation of the original in the English translation. Although the English reads “words given to his father,” there is nothing in the original that explicitly identifies the person who Oyasama gave these instructions to. This means it was possible that these instructions were given to someone other than Ryojiro. Further, Oyasama’s instructions did not necessarily needed to be those that were spoken at the exact duration of the illness. The only condition these instructions needed to fulfill was if they were related to an illness of Ryojiro’s or not.

It is highly probable that the illness being referred to is the one that led Ryojiro to work exclusively for the path. As for the instruction itself, I have good reason to believe that they must refer to the words Oyasama offered to Tamezo in Anecdotes no. 90.

As for the instructions that are explicitly given in Anecdotes no. 120, Oyasama first declares, “I say, live in, live in.” “Live in” here is a translation of fusekomi, a term I’ve covered several times before. This term is used in similar contexts in Anecdotes nos. 33 and 98.

The instruction, “In whatever God has once said, there is no mistake, not even one in one thousand,” echo verses found in the Ofudesaki.[1]

Finally, regarding Tamezo’s mother and brother urging him to settle down, I offer a lengthy citation from Takano sensei:

After his father’s passing, Tamezo offered to serve in his stead. He had an elder brother named Ryozo. Oyasama replied, “No, serve your elder brother for the next three years. I shall accept that as service to God in full.” She also told him, “If you think that time is short, you must hurry. But if you think that the time ahead is long, there is no need to hurry.”

Tamezo was about twenty-eight at the time. Ordinarily, a farmer would have been married long ago. Tamezo had asked Oyasama earlier, “I have come of age to take a wife. Shouldn’t I marry and settle down?” Her answer was always, “It is too early.” His neighbors wondered, “What is wrong is the Yamazawa’s Tamezo-san? He is already twenty-seven or twenty-eight and he still doesn’t have a wife.” But Tamezo clung obediently to Oyasama’s wishes and worked hard for his brother. . . .

The years passed and Tamezo was still single at the age of thirty-one. This was in the year that Oyasama withdrew from physical life — 1887. In April of that year, a match was made between Tamezo and Kajimoto Hisa.

Kajimoto Hisa was a granddaughter of Oyasama and elder sister of the first Shinbashira. During the last years of Oyasama’s physical life, Hisa was Her personal attendant and cared for Her day and night during the two weeks of Her last detention which was at the Ichinomoto police station when Oyasama was eighty-nine (pp. 18-19).


Takano, Tomoji. 1985. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department.

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


[1] Consider the following verses:

Among the words of God, who began this world, there is not even a single mistake in a thousand (I:43).

Whatever Tsukihi has once said will never become false through all time (VIII:70).

Since I, Tsukihi, give My assurance, there will not be even a single error in a thousand (X:24).

What Tsukihi has once said will never become false through all time (XI:11; XIII:65).