Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 181

181. Oyasama’s Rice Bowl (Oyasama no chawan)

“Among the rice bowls used by Oyasama was a chipped one that had been repaired. I saw the bowl: a patterned, ordinary rice bowl which had been repaired with a colorful chip of porcelain. It is now a treasure of the Church Headquarters. When people see it, they will not be able to be extravagant.

Also, among the flat dishes that Oyasama used was one that had been repaired.”

The above is a recollection of Narajiro Kajimoto.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 143

My take

Reading Anecdotes 181 reminded me of the reaction some people had toward the 2010 Autumn Grand Service Sermon at Church Headquarters. I was at a gathering later that day (October 26) when I heard a handful of people expressing their surprise at the strictness the Shinbashira expressed in his sermon. To be specific, it was a line he quoted from the Osashizu that went “One cannot open a path while living in luxury.”[1] They had surmised that it was a message directed to an unnamed faction within the Tenrikyo congregation.

Although I listened to the sermon that day, I admittedly did not come away with any impression that it happened to be so “strict.” Apart from the fact that I probably wasn’t paying enough attention in the first place, I also felt this was perhaps because I have never been a connoisseur of grand service sermons.

If the Shinbashira was really trying to dissuade a portion of the congregation from living in extravagance, one could conclude that it may not hurt to display Oyasama’s chipped rice bowl that is mentioned in Anecdotes 181. I sure would like to put to the test Kajimoto Narajiro’s claim that “When people see it, they will not be able to be extravagant.” He seems to assume that showing this rice bowl would help persuade the faithful to live simply and austerely more than any directive ever could.

When one considers how any 100-yen store is filled with a staggering amount of tableware just goes to show how materially rich Japan has become since Oyasama’s time. I imagine it was not uncommon for the average person living in late 19th century Japan to have had at least one repaired chipped rice bowl or plate in their possession.

People living today would likely not give a second thought to throwing away any damaged tableware. It was unfortunate but not at all unsurprising to see boxes filled with various plates and dishes that went unsold at a recent charity bazaar in Tenri placed beside the trash dumpster the very next day.

External link 

Sermon at the Autumn Grand Service (October 26, 2010) *Note: Link to second half of the sermon is broken.


[1] The entire quote is as follows:

This path can hardly be considered a broad path as yet. . . . One cannot open a path while living in luxury. Understand well. Put on your workshoes, make untiring efforts of dedication, and thus build virtue earnestly. Only then will your work be effective.

Osashizu, November 4, 1898