128. Oyasama’s Room (Japanese title: Oyasama no o-ima)
Until 1883, Oyasama lived in the ten matted room on the west side of the Nakaminami-Gatehouse, which was on the left as one faced the building. By the window of that room was a large storage chest on which Oyasama always seated Herself. The chest was about three tatami mats in size with a height of eighty centimeters, containing various drawers and storage places. When someone visited Her with children, Oyasama would take sweets out from within the chest and give them to the children.
In 1883, Oyasama moved to the Resting House. The building consisted of two parts separated by paper sliding-doors: an eight matted room, and a four matted raised chamber in which Oyasama stayed. It is said that when this separate building was completed, the followers were pleased because they could now offer Oyasama a larger and more suitable residence than before.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 105
[The Nakaminami or South Gatehouse] Image source: Sawa’s blog
My take / research
I once had the fortunate opportunity to see the insides of the Nakaminami or South Gatehouse where Oyasama is said to have spent her days until the construction of the Resting House.
The South Gatehouse, along with the Place for the Service, Resting House, and two-floor Storehouse are called the “historical buildings” (kinen tatemono) that have been preserved and relocated north from where they were originally built.
I tried to imagine Oyasama sitting on the “large storage chest” inside the room, but there did not appear to be much room for anyone to sit between the top of the chest and the ceiling. The chest appeared taller than the distance between the top of the chest to the ceiling.
While I concluded it was more than possible that the chest was not the one Oyasama originally sat on, I came away with the impression that she must have been quite small in height for her to sit on such an object without hitting her head on the ceiling and wondered how on earth she would have climbed up on the chest.
When I examined a picture of this same room on p. 89 from a publication entitled Reference Materials for The Life of Oyasama when preparing this post, I realize my eyes played tricks on me. The distance from the chest to the ceiling is clearly higher than the chest itself. I can only explain my false impression by the window situated nearly halfway to the ceiling. I may have mistaken the top of the window as the actual height of the ceiling.
I quote a lengthy portion from The Life of Oyasama describing the night Oyasama moved form the South Gatehouse into the Resting House to close this post.
The interior of the Resting House of Oyasama was completed that autumn . The structure was eighteen feet by twenty-four feet and contained two rooms, one four-mat and the other eight-mat.
Oyasama, on November 25, which was [10/]26 by the lunar calendar, at night, after waiting until the proper time in accordance with the directions of God the Parent, moved from the South Gatehouse into the new Resting House.
That evening, following Her meal, Oyasama changed Her clothes and waited quietly for the proper time to arrive. An intermediary announced that all preparations had been made. The followers who had come out to welcome Her had already lit their lanterns and stood arrayed in the garden.
But Oyasama said simply,
Oh, all is ready? Let us move when the time comes,
and remained seated on the dais.
Preparations had been made. The followers stood waiting, asking themselves: “Will it be now? Will it be now?” But Oyasama awaited the proper time intently. Human thought would have been to move and be done with it quickly. But Oyasama was One whom nothing would divert when the will of God the Parent was before Her. This bearing of Oyasama evokes the vivid image of the Shrine of Tsukihi.
Many hours passed. Then Oyasama said:
Sah, the time has arrived. Let us move. Come, Tama-san.
It was about midnight when She said this to Her granddaughter, Tamae. Her passage was lit on both sides by followers who filled the garden, holding lanterns emblazoned with the names of their [confraternities] such as Shinmei and Meishin, standing in wait. Oyasama, now in Her eighty-sixth year, stepped out into their midst bathed in the light of their paper lanterns, leading Her seven-year-old granddaughter, Tamae, by the hand while Tamae’s other hand was held by Hisa Kajimoto, another granddaughter, and walked quietly forward. A few claps were heard from the crowd in attendance and, as Oyasama proceeded through the crowd, the sound of clapping mounted resoundingly.
Many years later, Tamae recalled: “At the time, not knowing what it was all about, I went along with Grandmother, holding Her hand. When I think about it now, the distance was short, but that night I thought it was very long.”
Arriving at the Resting House, Oyasama proceeded to the raised room and sat down quietly. Then She beckoned to Shinnosuke and Tamae,
Come here. Sit here,
and had them sit on Her right and left.
Then the greetings from the followers began. The door opened and closed as each group entered and left, their names announced by an intermediary: “Now, it is the Shinmei [Confraternity]. Now, it is the Meishin [Confraternity].” The greetings continued, seemingly without end, and thus the night passed.
When the followers saw Oyasama enter the Resting House built by their sincerity, and especially after witnessing that Oyasama had waited until the time fixed by God before entering, their hearts flamed with deep emotion, unconcerned even by the frost on that cold night (pp. 193-195).
Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1996 . The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo (third edition). Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
Tenrikyo Overseas Department. 2000. Reference Materials for The Life of Oyasama. Tenri: Tenrikyo Overseas Department.