Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 141

141. Buds Burst Forth from a Knot (fushi kara me ga kiru)

In the beginning of March 1884, Genjiro Fukaya, who had withdrawn from the Meisei-sha [Confraternity], returned to Jiba with Zensuke Uno in order to obtain permission for establishing the Shido-kai [Confraternity]. They left Kyoto in the evening and arrived at Nara around two o’clock in the morning. They reached the Residence in the early dawn. They were granted an audience with Oyasama through the arrangement of Risaburo Yamamoto, and asked Oyasama for permission to establish the [confraternity]. Then, there were these words of Oyasama:

“Sah, sah, you have come to ask Me, to ask Me. Sah, sah, you must understand well. Sah, sah, even here at Jiba, there has been festering and pressing within for the past forty-eight years. There have been cases of festering and pressing. Moreover, from without, they will come again to press. Because there is a knot, there is a bud. Buds burst forth from the knot. Understand well this principle. Step by step, step by step, this path has been cleared through many hardships and trials to the present. I say to you, understand well.”

These words did not clearly give permission. So, Fukaya and Uno asked Her permission again, saying, “The five of us will follow God at the sacrifice of our lives.” Then, Oyasama said:

“Sah, sah, sah, I accept your sincerity. I accept it. The seed of the Shido-kai [Confraternity], sah, sah, from today, sah, sah, is planted. Sah, sah, you cannot imagine how large it will grow from now. Sah, sah, make those of the [confraternity] understand this. Even if they do not, God is watching. Leave them alone, I say,”

and She gave Her approval. The true sincerity of the five persons, Fukaya, Uno, Sawada, Yasura, and Nakanishi was accepted by God the Parent in this manner.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 114-115

Supplemental information from Taimo (translation)

“Fukaya Genjiro: served as Honbu-in (executive official of Tenrikyo Church HQ) and was the founding and third minister of Kawaramachi Daikyokai.

“Born in 1843 in Kyoto City. In 1881 he embraced the faith after having been introduced to it by a work-related acquaintance. In 1883 he formed the Shido-kai (precursor of Kawaramachi)

“In 1889, he established Kawaramachi Bunkyokai. He passed away for rebirth in 1923 at the age of 81.”

More supplemental information on Fukaya Genjiro (1843-1923)[1] 

Genjiro was born on 2/17/1843 in present-day Sanjo Avenue, Furukawa-cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City. His father Genbei was born in present-day Nagoya City and came to Kyoto for an apprenticeship in his youth and later established the blacksmith shop Tangen.

Although Genbei wanted his son to become a merchant, Genjiro chose to follow in his footsteps since he disliked what he saw as the suspicious bargaining associated with the profession and was instead attracted to the idea of making products that were worth their asking price.

After taking over the blacksmith shop from his father, Genjiro made a name for himself as a master craftsman of hatchets. His reputation spread all the way to his father’s hometown of Nagoya. He came to be called Gen the honest blacksmith since he never asked more for what he felt his products were worth.

Further, when he was still in his teens, he underwent daily cold-water ablutions early every morning as an ascetic practice to pray for the prosperity of his family so he could put his parents’ minds at ease. He completed a day’s worth of work in the morning hours and dedicated all of his afternoon earnings on making his parents happy. He became well-respected in his neighborhood for his filial devotion.

Genjiro embraced the faith in September 1881 at the age of 38. While he was impressed by the teachings and attracted to the cheerful singing and dancing of the Service, his approach toward faith was casual at first. It was not until six months later when he received blessings after a hot piece of iron flew into his eye (as detailed in The Footsteps of Our Predecessors, Part 36) his devotion became particularly intense.

It is described that in 1884, Genjiro, Uno Zensuke (who appears in Anecdotes no. 105), and three others withdrew their membership from the Meisei-sha Confraternity due to the “wrong thoughts” (kokoro chigai) of confraternity director Oku Rokubei (Uno 2010).

One has to wonder what specifically these “wrong thoughts” of Oku Rokubei’s were. If my memory is accurate, I recall reading how Rokubei began to set himself up as a religious teacher in his own right and started to emphasize his own insights over what Oyasama taught. His confraternity also held Shingaku sermons from time to time as a pretense of allowing people to gather in large numbers, which often fell under strict supervision by law enforcement at the time.

A combination of these factors might have motivated Genjiro and his co-patriots to leave the Meisei-sha and form a confraternity of their own. Anecdotes no. 141 is an account describing how they sought permission for this from Oyasama. After they stated their resolve that the five of them would follow God anywhere[2], Oyasama blessed their new confraternity with her approval.

“Festering and pressing”

I will put aside discussing historical matters until next time and attempt a quick analysis of the phrase “festering and pressing.” The original Japanese undari tsuburetari conjures the image of a festering boil or wound (although I would prefer to translate tsuburetari as “crushing” instead of “pressing”).

I found it somewhat strange that the teachings would be described as something that had been “festering” for the last 48 years.

On one level, the metaphoric language of “festering and pressing” makes sense. Ever since Oyasama is claimed to have become the Shrine of God the Parent in 1838, what could be called her prophetic anxiety, the desire to convey God’s message, could be described as having festered within her while she faced pressing and crushing over the next 48 years — opposition within her own family, from her community, then later from leading practitioners of other religions and local law enforcement. This interpretation makes sense when we consider the words “Moreover, from without, they will come again to press.”

Yet with some contemplation, I had to wonder whether or not the sentence “Sah, sah, even here at Jiba, there has been festering and pressing within for the past 48 years” is a mistranslation. It may be more accurate if it were translated as: “Forty-eight years’ worth of efforts that have been dedicated at the Jiba: they have been undermined recently by repeated festering and crushing. Further, they come to crush.”[3]

Such an interpretation would make more sense in the specific context of Anecdotes no. 141, which involves, upon closer inspection, the issue of a confraternity director beginning to assert his own religious authority at the expense of Oyasama’s. It would make sense for the “festering” (undari) to refer to his activities in this situation. Yet again, undari can also mean “give birth to.”

In any case, the words attributed to Oyasama regarding the prospects of the new confraternity established by Genjiro et al — “The seed of the Shido-kai [Confraternity], sah, sah, from today, sah, sah, is planted. Sah, sah, you cannot imagine how large it will grow from now” — proves to be quite prescient.

It was a convention for branch confraternities of the Shido-kai to be numbered Shido-kai No. 2, 3, and so on. (The original Shido-kai in Kyoto was No. 1.) By the end of the Meiji period (1912), this number climbed to No. 5105 (Arakitōryō Henshūbu. 2010). Ultimately, 36 grand churches and 3722 branch churches that exist today can all trace their lineage of transmission to the Shido-kai.


Arakitōryō Henshūbu. 2010. “Dendō shirīzu (series) sono 7: aramichi o yuku.” Arakitōryō 240 (August 26, 2010), p. i.

Fukaya Motohiro. 2010. “Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie 18.” Tenri jihō No. 4170, p. 3.

Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2008. “Oyasama: kodomo o kawai-gatte yatte kure.” Taimō 469 (January 2008), pp. 16-17.

Uno Yoshikazu. 2010. “Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie 20.” Tenri jihō No. 4180, p. 3.

Further reading

Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi, no. 25

The Lives of Our Predecessors 

Takano Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 106-109.


[1] Information in this section was largely translated/paraphrased from Fukaya 2010.

[2] In my opinion, the translated phrase “at the sacrifice of our lives” is misleading and an over-exaggeration of the original Japanese.

[3] The key phrase in the original is “kono aida.” It either can mean “this duration of (48 years)” or “recently.”