Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 153 and 154

153. The Day of Release (o-demashi no hi)

This incident took place around 1884. When the date of Oyasama‘s release from prison was known, people began gathering in front of the prison gate long before the release was to take place. In spite of the police prohibition against worshiping Oyasama, they clapped their hands in reverence each time they caught a glimpse of Her. Police officers with drawn swords tried to stop them from doing so, saying, “We do not allow worship of a human being as a god.” But they clapped their hands behind the officers’ backs. There was no way of stopping them from worshiping Her. When the officers left, the worshipers said to each other, “We cannot refrain from worshiping Her, as we were saved from death. We will worship even if we are thrown into prison.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 125

154. God Brings Them to the Residence (Kami ga tsureta kaeru no ya)

Some of Oyasama’s words are as follows:

“When police officers come, it is God bringing them home to the Residence. When I go to the police, it is God taking Me there.

“They constantly come boisterously to interfere. This is like coming to dig for a precious jewel buried in the ground.

“It is not that police officers come here to interfere. It is God bringing them to the Residence.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama. p. 125

My take

Regular readers may have noticed I’ve been lumping together selections from Anecdotes more frequently lately. I have done so with consecutive selections that I thought were thematically similar enough with one another since I also have the desire to complete this project sometime before June this year and free myself up to begin something new. I will take any steps I can to make incremental progress toward completion.

While I do not intend to be parsimonious in any way in these upcoming discussions, I can’t entirely shake the feeling that I’m racing ahead a little too briskly now that I almost see the finish line before me. I would like to apologize beforehand in the event I inadvertently skip something important along the way. If such a slip comes to my attention, I will be sure to add updates wherever they may be needed.

In any case, I have lumped together Anecdotes nos. 153 and 154 since they both describe Oyasama’s “Hardships” or her encounters with the law enforcement of the day. As I have discussed elsewhere the reasons why the police happened to crack down on Oyasama and her growing following, I will just concentrate on the content of these two selections.[1]

No. 153 happens to describe that followers clapped in reverence of Oyasama when she was released from prison on an unspecified date in 1884. This spontaneous act draws ire from policemen who command the followers to stop what the officers must have viewed as blasphemy, but to no avail. It is then described that the followers declared to one another that they could not help but clap in worship of Oyasama and wouldn’t mind the least of being thrown in jail themselves for expressing their reverence of and gratitude to her.

Here, I have to wonder how common or rare it was throughout Japanese history for people to clap in reverence of a living person. Although I’ve done some reading of literature from Japan, I do not ever remember coming across a similar spectacle outside of Tenrikyo texts.[2]

There was a period when the emperor of Japan was regarded as a living kami (arahitogami) but I am unaware if people actually clapped in worship of him. Someone with a broader understanding of Japanese history ought to be able to answer this question with greater authority.

No. 154, on the other hand, offers a series of quotes attributed to Oyasama regarding the “Hardships” she endured. Okada Masahiko sensei, a religious studies professor at Tenri University, once offered his understanding of these quotes as follows:

Oyasama did not lament over Her repeated Hardships but instead always handled them positively, saying, “It is God taking Me” or “It is God bringing them” and stressed that these developments resulted from the proactive manifestation of God’s will. The Tenrikyo faith then was transmitted widely to the world just as She declared it would.

However, this is not a simple shift of consciousness akin to changing one’s perception or way of thinking. The words “This is like coming to dig for a precious jewel buried in the ground” overflows with a conviction of God the Parent’s protection that is beyond what a normal person is able to perceive.

Could it be that it was possible for Her to take on such an attitude because Oyasama, as the Shrine of Tsukihi, accepted the significance of all developments with the recognition the world overflows with God the Parent’s protection? (p. 35).

A Tenrikyo publication entitled Ikiru kotoba offers:

When oppression against the path was severe, Oyasama was constantly cheerful and spirited, saying, “From knots, buds will sprout.” Public opposition instead resulted in the spreading of the teachings. Jiba can be compared to a mountain of treasure. Opposition and attacks on the path may have decreased today yet we must increase efforts to allow the radiance of the teachings to shine through (p. 40).

Lastly, I offer quotes from The Life of Oyasama that overlap with the sentiments conveyed in Anecdotes no. 154:

It is God the Parent who comes to fetch and it is God the Parent who summons. From knots growth will occur.

The Life of Oyasama, p. 179

At the Residence, those who come to stop, as well as those who must go forth, all are actions of God the Parent.

Concerning Oyasama’s hardships:

God the Parent takes Her along.

Concerning the restrictions and the interference by the police:

At the Residence, those who come to stop, by their coming, dig up buried treasures.

Further, each time Oyasama was held in detention or imprisoned, She said:

From a knot, buds will spring forth.

ibid, pp. 210-211


Tenrikyō Dōyūsha, ed. 1995. Ikiru kotoba: Tenrikyō kyōso no oshie. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.

Okada Masahiko. 2009. “Satori: 154 ‘Kami ga tsureta kaeru no ya’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 3. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 29-35.

Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1996 [1967]. The Life of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo (third edition). Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.


[1] I go into detail regarding these reasons in my discussion of Anecdotes no. 73. Nos. 106 138 and 144 also happens to touch on Oyasama’s “Hardships.”

[2] Followers are described to have clapped while Oyasama relocated from the South Gatehouse to her Resting House in 1883. I happen to quote a narrative of this episode in my discussion of Anecdotes no. 128.

Further, The Life of Oyasama includes the following description when Oyasama was released from prison in March 1884 (the imprisonment that is described in Anecdotes no. 144):

On the morning of Her release, when Oyasama came through the gateway at ten o’clock, the great mass of followers who had come out to greet Her in front of the prison gate clapped their hands and bowed in reverence.

As was Her custom, Oyasama went directly to Yoshizen for a bath and Her midday meal, after which She received Her followers and treated them to sake and food. Then She started out for the Residence in Chobei Murata’s rickshaw. The rick-shaws following in procession, carrying those who came to accompany Oyasama home, numbered in the hundreds. At every point on Her route, people were massed at the roadsides to greet Her. In the vicinity of Sarusawa Pond especially, many people were massed; they clapped their hands and bowed in concert as She passed

The police who had been dispatched to control the crowd, dashed about with drawn sabers, warning the crowds that they were not allowed to pay obeisance to a human being as if she were a god. But their efforts were in vain, for as soon as the officers moved away, the people resumed their clapping and bowing, muttering among themselves that whoever had been saved by Oyasama from a hopeless illness could not help but worship Her, even in the face of imprisonment (p. 197).

I include this lengthy quote here since the Japanese from this portion is almost the same word for word from the account given in Anecdotes no. 153 even though this may not so readily apparent just by reading the English translation. The two descriptions may happen to be two accounts of the same event.