Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 127

127. Tokyo, Tokyo and Nagasaki (Japanese title: Tōkyō-Tōkyō, Nagasaki)

In the autumn of 1883, Sasuke Uehara returned to Jiba and was granted an audience with Oyasama. Unexpectedly, Oyasama said to him:

“Tokyo, Tokyo and Nagasaki.”

He was then presented with a red garment. Deep emotion on that occasion led him to firmly resolve his mind. Later, he closed up his house and went alone to Tokyo to spread the teachings, taking the red garment with him.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 105

Supplemental information from Tenrikyo jiten, kyokai-shi hen[1]
Uehara Sasuke was born in 1850 in Kasaoka, Okayama, to Kasahara Gishichi and Take. He lost his mother when he was two and his father when he was 13. When he was 15, his stepmother passed away as well.

Sasuke married when he was 18. Although he was determined to restore the Kasahara household to its former glory, the tumultuous last years of the Tokugawa Shogunate and early Meiji period quelled his best efforts and intentions.

In 1872, the family tobacco business was liquidated and the Kasahara clan was no more. Sasuke went to Osaka with his sister Ishi to work for his uncle Uehara Sakichi, a producer of tatami covers and ultimately adopted his uncle’s surname. Sasuke’s in-laws were furious, assumingly because he had overseen the decline and end of his household. They forced him and his wife Sato to divorce and she returned to her parents’ home in Kasaoka. (In 1891, Uehara Sato became the first minister of Tenrikyo Kasaoka Shikyokai, which is currently a daikyokai.)

Sasuke was shown the ropes of his uncle’s business and at one point was so successful that his tatami covers were considered the highest quality in Tokyo. However, the price of commodities came crashing down and he had to reduce production circa 1882.

Sasuke came to know about Tenrikyo in 1880. His sister Ishi had been cured of a chronic illness and he accompanied her on a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Jiba (described in Anecdotes no. 81, see below for link). After his encounter with Oyasama as described in Anecdotes no. 127 above, Sasuke was determined to go to the Kanto region to engage in missionary work. He folded his business before leaving for Tokyo from the port of Kobe on July 24, 1885. He went with a former employee by the name of Tsubaki Unosuke and took with him the set of red clothes he received from Oyasama, a copy of the Mikagura-uta, and a stack of sacred paper.

In time, between 20 and 30 people began to gather around him. Not long after Oyasama “withdrew from physical life” on 1/26/1887 (lunar), he formed a confraternity — the Tokyo Shinmei-gumi — and shunned the prevailing superstitions by building a room with an area of four-by-two tatami mats.[2] Uehara Sasuke became the first minister of Azuma Bunkyokai in 1889, which was promoted a daikyokai in 1908.

Although a number of sizable churches were established through Sasuke’s efforts and that of his converts (including Nihonbashi, Ushigome, Fukagawa, and Asakusa grand churches that are located in Tokyo Prefecture), it took nearly 90 years before the Azuma lineage established a church in Nagasaki on February 26, 1974. A Tenrikyo reference source describes this turn of events as follows: “The season came for the first minister’s words from Oyasama to be fulfilled” (TKJH p. 52).


Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, ed. 1981. Tenrikyō gaisetsu. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Shuppanbu.

_________. 1989. Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten, kyōkai-shi hen (TJKH). Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.

Further reading
Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama no. 81: Now, Help Yourself
The Life of the Honseki Izo Iburi, Part Eleven: The Honseki’s Missionary Visits
Takano Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 124-129.


[1] Information in this section is primarily paraphrased from TJKH p. 50.
[2] A room with such measurements was considered very unlucky and called a “room of death” because the numbers four and two combined is a homonym of “death” (shi-ni).