Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 161

161. To See Children’s Enjoyment (kodomo no tanoshimu no o)

Kiku Masui made it a rule to visit the Residence every day. However, there were some days when she could not go there for various reasons. On such days, she never failed to abstain from eating salt or cooked food for the whole day. When she returned to the Residence one day after she had abstained from eating salt and cooked food, Oyasama told her tenderly:

“Okiku, you need not do such things. The Parent never wants to give children hardships. This God is never happy to see the beloved children suffer. You need not do such a thing any more. God is pleased only to see children enjoy themselves.”

Oyasama knew everything, even things which She had not seen.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 129–130

My take  

Masui Kiku has made several appearances in earlier selections from Anecdotes of Oyasama, which includes: no. 10 (which chronicles the first time she returned to Jiba to meet with Oyasama), no. 16 (a narrative account of how her son’s profound devotion allowed her to be saved from illness), no. 50 (a story describing how her daughter Masu was married), as well as very brief mentions in nos. 57 and 78.

Anecdotes no. 161 here reveals that Kiku abstained from salt and cooked meals on days she was unable to return to the Residence to worship.[1] Oyasama later instructed her not to endure such forms of atonement, saying: “God is never happy to see beloved children suffer. You need not do such a thing any more.” This instruction becomes all the more striking when we consider that God is said to have commanded Oyasama to “fall to the depths of poverty” not long after the revelations that Tenrikyo bases itself on first began.

Yet this instruction is consistent with her directive to Izumita Tokichi related in Anecdotes no. 64, “Kumakichi, on this path you must not torture yourself.” A Tenrikyo publication entitled Ikiru kotoba (Living words) provides the following commentary:

God seeks human beings to deepen our true sincerity at each step. Yet God does not desire to see us suffer. “God is pleased only to see children enjoy themselves.” Therein lies the difficulty of expressing our sincerity (p. 79).

The notion that “God is pleased only to see children enjoy themselves” is also an attitude that Oyasama is described to have embodied herself according to the previous selection covered last time (Anecdotes no. 160). In that story, she chose a persimmon that Kiku’s daughter-in-law Osame considered to be the worst of the bunch because Oyasama found enjoyment in leaving the best for others and delighting in their joy. Granted, a strict Tenrikyo theological stance would argue that the parental heart of God the Parent and Oyasama are one in the same.

Anecdotes no. 161 further offers a subtle reminder that God is the Parent of human beings and all human beings are God’s children according to Oyasama’s teachings. It then ends with a not-so-subtle suggestion that Oyasama was able to see and know all due to her unique standing as the Shrine of God the Parent.


[1] The act of worshiping daily at a Tenrikyo place of worship is often encouraged as an ideal expression of one’s devotion and called nissan 日参 in Japanese. The kanji for the car maker is 日産. “Nissan” (the car company), literally means “Made in Japan,” but one wonders if such is even really the case anymore for most of their vehicles.