Yamazawa Koki manuscript in English with annotations

Given that the Tenrikyo Resource Wiki (TRW) has been offline since August 2015 due to technical reasons, I have decided to offer my translation of Ryosuke Yamazawa’s poetic version of the Koki (Divine Record) here on Tenrikyology.com as well.

I have taken the translation originally posted at TRW and refined it to some degree and added annotations. This is at least my fourth attempt translating this work. After doing a rough first draft, I attempted to create an English translation that emulated the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count of the Japanese original. Although it was an interesting exercise, I ultimately found this second attempt to be unsatisfactory. After reworking this version to make it somewhat more intelligible without the restrictions of making it conform to a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable verse structure, I came up with the third version, the one posted at TRW. I reworked this third version while reviewing the original Japanese a little more carefully (and made it less wordy in the process) and this current post is the result.

Historical background

Circa 1881, Oyasama instructed followers to “Compile a Divine Record” and Ryosuke Yamazawa (1831–1883) was among the first to do so. His manuscript, written in waka poetry, was unlike other versions that were mainly written in prose.

It has been said that Ryosuke Yamazawa once presented Oyasama a version of the Koki that did not receive her approval. It is not known if this version is the manuscript that survives to this day1 and being posted below in English.

Ryosuke Yamazawa’s manuscript is often referred in Japanese as Wakatai juyo-nen bon (Meiji 14 (1881) waka poems manuscript). There are several surviving copies of this work bearing a number of different titles. The copy believed to be in Yamazawa’s original handwriting simply precedes with the words “Written in March 1881.” Other copies bear the title “Notes on the Story of the Creation of this World,” “A Document Unparalleled in Japan,” “Tenrin-O-no-Mikoto,” “Ancient Record of the Kami,” and “Ancient Record.”2

Yamazawa’s waka 1881 manuscript was one of the more highly regarded and widely disseminated versions of the Divine Record.3 It may be noted that it even became an important document for schismatic groups that broke away from Tenrikyo.

On Ryosuke Yamazawa

Ryosuke (also known as Ryojiro) Yamazawa was one of Oyasama’s earliest and most trusted disciples. He embraced her teachings not long after his sister Sono Yamanaka was saved from a health disorder that afflicted her for more than two years.4 He was also related to Moriya Chikuzen-no-kami, who was the priest who presided over the special prayers Oyasama’s followers disturbed, which caused the so-called “Oyamoto Shrine incident” of 1864. Yamazawa attempted to intercede and approached Moriya to talk over the matter on behalf of the followers.5 Yamazawa also contributed during the suppression of Sukezo Imai’s heresy and Shuji’s application to Yoshida Shinto for a religious license.6

After the passing of Shuji in 1881, Yamazawa acted as a guardian of household affairs and looked after the finances of the Residence. He was subsequently taken into police custody and fined on a number of occasions before his passing in 1883.

Please note that while this may be my fourth attempt translating this work, it is still at a preliminary stage and has not undergone peer review. I am making it available here because I feel that there are elements that I suspect will arouse curiosity in anyone with an interest in religiosity in general, and not limited to Tenrikyo audiences.

Any input regarding this translation along with almost anything else on this website will be heartily welcomed. With all that said, here is the translation:7

The Story of Creation

(1) This world we live, its true origin was a muddy ocean. The original Kami8, Tsuki-Hi-sama.9

(2) Then, Tsuki-sama turned to the landscape (kunitoko) first, ascertained it, and began a discussion with Hi-sama.

(3) This is the reason Kunitokotachi-no-Mikoto-sama is named so. This Kami is Parent of Origin.

(4) At that moment, the discussion produced the proposal to create a world and create human beings.

Locating instruments and models

(5) To prepare for the creation of humankind, arrangements were made to locate respective instruments and models.

(6) (Tsuki-Hi-sama) looked carefully and there they could be seen: an Uo10 and Mi11 mixed in the muddy ocean.

(7) As for this Uo, his face was that of a man’s and on his body there were no scales. His skin was that of a man’s.

(8) This is the reason the Uo is also called a “merman.” Upon looking carefully, straight and unswerving (9) his heart-mind was deemed. Once he offered his consent, (Tsuki-Hi-sama) received him. For an instrument to train him, (10) (Tsuki-Hi-sama) looked carefully and there was a shachi-hoko. Upon seeing his very forceful, powerful disposition, (11) (Tsuki-Hi-sama) received him. Once (Tsuki-Hi-sama) consumed him, they received this life form’s flavor of heart-mind.

(12) He would be duly trained as the male primary organ and (assigned) the protection of the bones of humankind.

(13) Kunitokotachi entered the Uo. Thus began husband and wife and the seeds of humanity.

(14) This is the reason he was given a sacred name (and is now enshrined at) the Grand Shrine (of Ise). This Kami is the Kami Izanagi.

(15) If you wonder where this Kami is, in this year of the serpent12, he is 16 years of age.13

(16) This Kami is currently living right here as a primary Kami at the Residence of Origin.

(17) (The form of) Mi-sama was a white serpent. The touch of her skin, a texture like a human’s.

(18) Once ascertaining that her heart-mind was straight and true, (Tsuki-Hi-sama) then drew her close. Once she offered her consent, (19) (Tsuki-Hi-sama) looked carefully once more and found a turtle. This turtle’s hide was strong and tough.

(20) Her footing was also strong and she would not fall over. Once this life form offered her consent, (Tsuki-Hi-sama) consumed her.

(21) Once (Tsuki-Hi-sama) tasted the flavor of her heart-mind, she was duly trained as the female primary organ.

(22) The heart-mind of Hi-sama entered Mi-sama. Thus began husband and wife and as a human (23) seedbed (Tsuki-Hi-sama) utilized her, making her a primary Kami. The Kami Izanami corresponds to (the Kami enshrined at) the Outer Shrine at Ise.

(24) This Kami is the original Parent of human beings. As for where this revered Parent14 of ours is, (25) if you must wonder, in this year of the serpent12, she is exactly 84 years of age16 and in Yamabe County (26) Shoyashiki Village, in the Nakayama Residence is where she currently lives.

(27) On having been revealed, she is currently right here. Know that this Parent is the Parent of human beings living in the here and now.

(28) Further, the turtle was utilized as the instrument for human skin and joining and given the sacred name (29) Kunisazuchi. This Kami is residing in our revered Parent’s body and embrace.

(30) After 30 years elapse from this year, (as a child) named Tamahime to the Residence of Origin (31) she will be brought back. After this has unfolded, ‘til forevermore she will provide salvation in manifold forms.17

(32) (The form of) Tsukiyomi was a shachi-hoko. He is the Kami who protects the bones of human beings.

(33) This Kami, in this year of the serpent, has been revealed to be 61 years of age.18

(34) (The form of) Kumoyomi was an eel. This Kami is the Kami who provides human beings the protection of eating and drinking.

(35) This Kami, in this year of the serpent, is five years old and currently living right here.19

(36) (The form of) Kashikone was a righteye flounder. This Kami is the Kami who provides human beings the protection of breathing.

(37) This Kami, in this year of the serpent, is eight years old and currently living right here.20

(38) (The form of) Taishokuten-no-Mikoto was a fugu. Once (Tsuki-Hi-sama) tasted this life form’s flavor of heart-mind, (39) (she was assigned to) cut ties at the death and birth of human beings, making her the Kami who is the scissors of this world we live.

(40) This Kami, in this year of the serpent, turns exactly 32 years of age and is currently right here.21

(41) Otonobe is the Kami of food. (The form of) this Kami was a black serpent. He is the Kami who pulls forth.

(42) This Kami, in this year of the serpent, is 16 and currently living right here.22

(43) For what would become the souls of human beings, (Tsuki-Hi-sama) looked at the heart-minds of the loaches in the muddy ocean.

(44) After all of them duly offered their consent, (Tsuki-Hi-sama) received them, consumed them, tasted the flavors of each of their heart-minds, (45) made these fellows instruments for the human soul, and bestowed a sacred name to all of them.

(46) The total count of human children were 9 hundred million, 99 thousand, 9 hundred and 99.

(47) “Once the years equal to this number elapses, we will bring you back to the Residence of Origin where you have this causal, karmic link (48) and let you go on a joyous and playful excursion.” — This was the promise Tsuki-Hi-sama made.

(49) Right here, right now, the original Kami are human beings and are all currently living and revealed.

A thing lent, a thing borrowed

(50) Until this moment, until our revered Parent spoke of it, “My body belongs to me” (51) (was what everyone) thought, but this idea is misguided. Listen to what our revered Parent teaches, (52) have the heart-minds of everyone in your household enlightened by this truth and believe with sincere conviction that (53) the things we borrow include eyes and moisture, warmth, skin and joining, bones that form the core, (54) drinking, eating, and elimination as well as breathing. All these are things borrowed from each Kami.

(55) There is no one who has doubt in the very least (in my household?) about this matter. If you doubt this, the blessings (you receive) will fade.

(56) If you sincerely and genuinely believe (your body is) a thing borrowed, there will never be a prayer of yours that goes unanswered.


(57) This Residence is the Jiba of Origin, the original locale where humans began. Here is the Parental Home of this living world.

(58) The original instruments were born possessing the causal, karmic link with this living world’s Residence of Origin.

(59) (Tsuki-Hi-sama) looked carefully as this unfolded and descended from heaven 45 years ago.

(60) I have taken what (our revered Parent) spoke to us day after day and wrote them in detail with my writing brush.

The Story of Creation, continued

(61) The primary instruments of humankind are the turtle and shachi-hoko. They were placed in the bodies (of the Mi and Uo).

(62) Then, a total count of 9 hundred million, 99 thousand, 9 hundred and 99 children (63) were conceived at this Jiba over 3 days and 3 nights and (Izanami-sama) remained there for 3 years and 3 months.

(64) From this moment on, between the 7 ri23 between Nara and Hase in Yamato Province, it took 7 days for (65) (Izanami-sama) to give birth and in the remainder of Yamato it took 4 days. This is why (this area is called) Kamigata or “Divine Residence.”24

(66) In the three provinces of Yamashiro, Iga, and Kawachi, (Izanami-sama) gave birth over a span of 19 days.

(67) Then, over a span of 45 days, (Izanami-sama) gave birth in the remaining provinces.

(68) This is the reason (there is the custom for women) to stay 75 days in a birthing room and shrines now exist in the locations where (Izanami-sama) gave birth.

(69) Human beings were born 5 bu25 tall and equally matured to a height of 3 sun26, (70) (after which) they died. At this point in time, Izanagi-sama also passed on. After this unfolded, (71) with the divine providence Izanami-no-Mikoto-sama had already been taught, in Her womb, (72) the Parent again conceived the original number of human beings. After ten months elapsed, (73) these human beings were also born 5 bu tall and equally matured to a height of 3 sun and 5 bu27, (74) (after which) they died. Again in the same womb the original number of human beings were conceived for a third time.

(75) These beings were also born 5 bu tall and gradually grew to 4 sun28 in height and died once again.

(76) At that point in time, Izanami-sama rejoiced, her lips forming a smile. “Now from this moment onward, (77) 5 shaku29 in height these human beings will be,” was the intention She expressed before She hid away. The time that elapsed (78) amounted to a span of 99 years. These 99-year timespans were altogether repeated 3 times.

(79) The places (Izanami-sama) gave birth the second time are now the sites of graves and cemeteries. The third time (80) (where she gave birth,) temples now exist. Shrines first, graves second, and temples third: these are places of worship.30

(81) From this moment on, as birds, mammals, and as other creatures (humans) repeated 8 thousand and 8 rebirths.

(82) This is the reason people have the ability to more or less imitate (the sounds and actions of all creatures).

(83) After this period (of rebirths) had elapsed, again by the divine providence of Tsuki-Hi-sama, (84) one monkey remained. Her identity was Kunisazuchi-sama. It was in her womb (85) that 5 boys and 5 girls, a total of ten humans each (86) were conceived in her. These newborns were also born 5 bu tall. When they reached 8 sun31 in height, water and earth were parted.

(87) (When they reached) 1 shaku and 8 sun32 in height, the oceans and mountains, the sky and the earth, the Sun and the Moon came to be demarcated.

(88) While their height remained under 1 shaku, 8 sun, from a single womb ten human beings were born each time.

(89) From this moment on, as long as their height remained under 3 shaku33, as one boy and one girl (90) human beings were born two at a time as twins. These beings became 3 shaku in height and they began to speak.

(91) This is the reason why human beings now at the age of 334 begin to speak and develop wisdom.

(92) From that moment on the pattern was set so that now (human beings are usually born) one at a time.

(93) When these human beings reached the height of 5 shaku, the oceans and mountains, the sky and earth—the world was all complete.

(94) Human beings left living in the water and came upon the earth. Until this moment in time, (95) in parallel with their growth and maturity, many foods and crops grew in a blessed bounty so they could live in comfort.

Gradually they took to the food, went about eating, and came up on the lands of the periphery and beyond.35 (96)

The Grant of Safe Childbirth and ura-shugo36

(97) The proof that it was the Kami who granted (life) to human beings is revealed solely in the Grant of Safe Childbirth.

(98) And speaking of which, all babies are conceived by Tsuki-Hi-sama and they also come to be born because of the efforts of Tsuki-Hi-sama.

(99) The venerable Kami who provide protection during childbirth includes Taishokuten. About this Kami: (100) she is the Kami who cuts the ties in the womb and is the venerable Lotus Sutra. Next, the venerable Kami Otonobe (101) is the Kami who pulls babies forth at childbirth and is the True Word.37 After childbirth, (the Kami responsible for) the postnatal joining is (102) Kunisazuchi. This venerable Kami corresponds to the Zen sect. These three Kami together are jointly called Akken-Myo-O.

(103) These three Kami provide workings at childbirth. The Grant of Safe Childbirth makes abdominal binders unnecessary (104) (as well as) making unnecessary (the practice of) leaning on objects, (observing the) 75-day period (of ritual pollution), and abstaining from foods that are considered taboo. From these birth practices (105) freedom is granted, (mothers’) bodies will be as normal and free of impurities. The Grant of Safe Childbirth will, at this Residence (106) be granted. This is the Residence of the Parent who began the human beings living in this world.

(107) This Grant (is offered at) the birthplace (of humanity) that cannot be found anywhere else in the Three Thousandfold World.

(108) (This Grant is) the path-opener of salvation representing proof that this is the Residence where human beings were conceived.

Illness and dust

(109) Though humans ought not to experience what is called illness, the reason we do is because there are misguided paths of the heart-mind.

(110) These paths—there are eight heart-minds of ordinary people—covetousness, miserliness, self-love, hatred, and (111) bearing grudges, anger, greed, and arrogance. These are the eight misguided heart-minds.

(112) These misguided (states) are ills in the body. If we were to apply a metaphor, they are dust of the heart.

(113) Because this dust piles and accumulates, there is illness and distress, depression and misfortune.

(114) Each of these are but (forms of) admonition and (manifestations of) divine anger that come from the Kami who protect our bodies (and urge us to) reform the heart-mind.

(115) One and all who prays to Tenrin-sama about the eight dusts from the time we were 15 and (116) until now, any dust we believe we may have gotten affixed, if we sincerely repent in our heart-mind, (117) if only this dust is promptly washed away in full, the roots of illness will be cut away.

(118) Other forms of manifold salvation (will unfold) the same way: when all people in a household purify their heart-minds (119) and pray, harmony will reign in the household. If human beings have the heart-mind to help one another,

(120) the venerable Kami will come to discern those who have such a heart-mind and will provide manifold forms of salvation and profound blessings.

The protection of Tsuki-Hi-sama

(121) Both this living world and human beings were created by the providence of Tsuki-Hi-sama.

(122) There is no one who knows about this origin in the very least. The sky is Tsuki-sama and the earth is Hi-sama.

(123) In this world, the sky and the earth and the Sun and the Moon are the same. The earth and sky are our true Parents.

(124) Those we call our Father and Mother are the sky and the earth, they are husband and wife. To utter “Namu” is the same thing.

(125) The remaining (Kami are) a set of instruments. The entire bodies of human beings comprise things borrowed from Kami.

(126) Of the things we borrow from the Kami, first of all are the eyes. They are things we borrow from Tsuki-sama.

(127) Everything that provides warmth in the body is from Hi-sama. They are things borrowed. (Together,) they are called “Namu.”

(128) Skin and joining we borrow from the venerable Kami Kunisazuchi. The bones which forms the core (of our bodies), (129) they are things borrowed from Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto-sama. (Together,) they are “Ami.” (The functions of) drinking, eating, and elimination, (130) we borrow from Kumoyomi-no-Mikoto-sama. This is the reason the whole body is called “go-rin go-tai.”38

(131) Breathing we borrow from Kashikone-sama. The breath allows us to speak and the wind scatters (our words).

(132) These (six aspects) amount to the six syllables “Na-mu Ami-da Bu.” The venerable Kami who represents “tsu” is Taishokuten.

(133) The venerable Kami who comes next, Otonobe, pulls crops forth and is a farmer Kami.

Directions and ura-shugo

(134) These Kami have assembled together. For this reason, the directions are now free (from regulations concerning) the eight directions.39

(135) Among these Kami, the three in eastern directions are female Kami and the three in western directions are male Kami.

(136) The southeast is represented by Kunisazuchi-sama. In the Buddhist faith she is Samantabhadra, Bodhidharma, and Sarasvati.

(137) The northwest is represented by the Kami Tsukiyomi. In the Buddhist faith he is the bodhisattva Hachiman and Prince Shotoku.

(138) The east is represented by the Kami Kumoyomi. In the Buddhist faith she is the bodhisattva Manjushri, the Dragon King, Shennong, and (139) Bhaisajyaguru. She provides the protection of medicine, doctors as well as the protection of books, writing, and wisdom.

(140) The southwest is represented by the Kami Kashikone. In the Buddhist faith he is Vairocana Buddha as well as Saint Honen.

(141) The northeast is represented by Taishokuten. In the Buddhist faith she is the bodhisattva Akasagarbha, Myoken-sama, (142) Hariti, Hashizume-sama40, Jurai41 as well as Agata-sama.42 They are the same.

(143) The west is represented by Otonobe-sama. In the Buddhist faith he is the immovable Acala and Saint Kobo.

The advent of manifold forms of salvation

(144) In this Residence, manifold forms of salvation are offered because the original Kami of human creation are here.

(145) Since this living world began and until now, this salvation was impossible and so (146) until this moment both doctors and medicine were prepared as weeding and fertilizing for human beings.

(147) From this moment onward, doctors, medicine, magical spells and incantations will no longer be necessary.

(148) Offering prostrations and incantations43 to the deities as well as fortune-telling: these are all places human beings express their indebtedness.

(149) Listen to the venerable Kami’s teachings and ponder. If your heart-mind is accepted as sincere, (150) there will never be a prayer of yours that goes unanswered. Yet if your heart-mind is misguided, you will have to take medicine and such.

Passing away for rebirth and purifying the heart-mind

(151) Human beings are said to die but this is not so. We do not die, we merely return what we have borrowed.

(152) The reason we return it is because dust has piled up high within the body and the Kami withdraws from the body.

(153) If we were to use the clothes we wear as a metaphor for this, those who do not brush away stains of the heart-mind…

(154) Unless these (stains) are washed away, we cannot keep wearing them. No matter how much you may want to keep them, you must disrobe and discard them.

(155) No matter how stained a piece of clothing may be, once it is washed with water, it can be worn comfortably.

(156) With human beings too, if the stains of the heart-mind are but swept away, the Kami will rejoice and provide protection.

(157) When human beings die, it is the same as disrobing and discarding the clothing you were wearing.

(158) The venerable Kami can offer nothing but the teachings to wash away the stains from human minds.

(159) About these teachings, both water and the venerable Kami are the same: they both wash and purify what is stained.44

(160) Salvation also depends on the heart-mind alone. Everyone, one and all, must quickly purify their heart-minds.

(161) If only the heart-mind is promptly purified, our revered Parent will immediately grant gifts.

*For an online resource offering a Japanese text of the Yamazawa manuscript, go to 和歌体十四年本.


  1. Shozen Nakayama. Koki no kenkyu, p. 7.
  2. Koki no kenkyu, p. 52.
  3. Shigeyoshi Murakami. Honmichi fukei jiken: tennosei o taiketsu shita minshu shukyo, p. 268.
  4. Discussed in Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 11.
  5. The Life of Oyasama 46.
  6. The Life of Oyasama 52; Tomoji Takano. Gozonmei no koro, 162.
  7. The translation was done while referring to a reproduction of the original text appearing in Koki no kenkyu, pp. 57–73. The subheadings here are my additions; they were added with the intent to the make the translation easier to read. One rule of thumb I adopted in this translation was to render numerals appearing as kanji into Arabic numerals when it was deemed possible. Please also note that the Japanese does not contain pronouns such as he, she, they etc.
  8. “Kami” can be understood as deity. See discussion of Song Three, verses 9–10 for more.
  9. Tsuki-Hi literally means Moon-Sun or Months-Days. I have rendered this as “Cosmic Space-Time” elsewhere on Tenrikyology.com. Sama: An honorific suffix. Rendered as “venerable” and “revered” elsewhere in the translation.
  10. Rendered as “fish” in the English Ofudesaki.
  11. Rendered as “serpent” in the English Ofudesaki.
  12. 1881.
  13. Believed to be referring to Kikutaro Maegawa. Izanagi is also associated with Zenbei Nakayama, who passed away in 1853 (See Ofudesaki chushaku note for 11:69–72).
  14. “Revered Parent” is a translation of Oyasama.
  15. 1881.
  16. Believed to be referring to Oyasama, Miki Nakayama.
  17. Kunisazuchi is also associated with Kokan Nakayama, who passed away in 1875, six years before these verses where written. See Ofudesaki chushaku note for 11:69–72.
  18. Believed to be referring to Shuji Nakayama.
  19. Believed to be referring to Tamae Nakayama.
  20. Believed to be referring to Masajin Iburi.
  21. Believed to be referring to Matsue Nakayama.
  22. Believed to be referring to Shinnosuke Nakayama.
  23. Seven ri: a distance of about 4.85 km or 2.8 mi.
  24. The second Shinbashira applies the kanji 神館 to Kamigata but it is also possible that the 上方 region is being referred to here.
  25. About 1.5 cm or 0.6 in.
  26. About 9 cm or 3.6 in.
  27. About 10.6 cm or 4.17 in.
  28. 12.1 cm or 4.77 in.
  29. 151.5 cm or 4.971 ft.
  30. “Temples” here is a translation of sanhara. The interpretation of sanhara as temples comes courtesy of Koji Sato’s Omichi no joshiki 114.
  31. 24.24 cm or 9.544 in.
  32. 54.55 cm or 1.79 ft.
  33. 90.91 cm or 2.983 ft.
  34. This would correspond to the Western count of one or two years old.
  35. In Japanese: Kara and Tenjiku.
  36. Ura-shugo is literally “hidden” or “backside protection.” It has been translated elsewhere as “indirect explanation of the divine providence.” It is presumed that the deities, historical figures, and other objects of veneration detailed in subsequent verses functioned as the manner the ten Kami protected people before “coming out into the open” with the advent of Oyasama becoming the Shrine of Tsuki-Hi.
  37. In Japanese: Shingon, a sect of Buddhism.
  38. Go-rin go-tai is a Buddhist term referring to the physical body. It was believed that the five parts of the body were fashioned from the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, ether). It appears in early Tenrikyo cosmology, there was a belief the physical body comprised of five fundamental parts loaned from five Kami—eyes from Kunitokotachi, warmth from Omotari, skin from Kunisazuchi, bones from Tsukiyomi, and the digestive organs from Kumoyomi.
  39. I presume the verse here means that feng shui regulations can be abandoned.
  40.  “Hashizume” refers to Hashihime, a Kami enshrined at selected shrines and temples that offers the protection of dissolving marriages and raising children (Masao Ishizaki. Koki to urashugo 262–3).
  41. “Jurai” is a reference to Jurasetsunyo or Ten Raksasi Women (Koki to urashugo 260).
  42.  “Agata-sama” refers to Agata Jinja, a shrine in Uji City (Koki to urashugo 263–4).
  43.  “Prostrations and incantations”: a translation of ogami-kito. Rendered in the Ofudesaki 3:45 as “formulas of worship, or by exorcism.”
  44. See Song Five, verse 3 of the Mikagura-uta.

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