Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 183

183. A Stormy Wind (akufū to iū mono wa)

About 1885 or 1886, opposition from Buddhist and Shinto priests and other people became stronger in proportion to the rapid expansion of the path. Some of the followers lost their patience to such an extent that they suggested active resistance. One day during such a period, Kuyemon Hayashi, head of a [confraternity] in Kire Village, Settsu Province, returned to Jiba to seek counsel on the matter. Then, an intermediary consulted Oyasama, who said:

“Sah, sah, I will tell you, comparing it to a stormy wind. A stormy wind never lasts forever. Therefore, wait by crouching down when it is blowing and set out after it stops.

If you try to walk against it, you might stumble or fall to the ground. So stay still. If you set out slowly after the storm stops, you can go.”

A few days later, a request for support came from followers in Wakasa Province who were caught in the same persecution. Oyasama answered to an inquiry:

“Sah, it is the flash flood, the muddy water. Try to pour a glass of clear water into it. Even if you wish to try to purify the muddy water with it, the muddy water will not be cleared.”

The people, it is told, calmed themselves after hearing Oyasama’s words.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 144

My take

Anecdotes 183 here portrays Oyasama dissuading followers from “active resistance” by suggesting that the opposition/persecution against them would one day abate. One presumes this helped establish an important precedent for her emerging faith movement. However, it may be noteworthy to mention that it is generally understood that the wave of persecution mentioned above was actually initiated by Oyasama herself.

Instances of opposition in Oyasama’s life

Yet before I go into detail, I would like to cover earlier instances of opposition that are detailed in the established narrative of Oyasama’s (physical) life. It would be safe to say that opposition in some shape or form was relatively constant ever since she had the transformational experience that would anoint her as the “Shrine of Tsukihi.”

Even when God allegedly spoke through Oyasama for the first time to “request” that she become God’s Shrine (although “demand” may be a more appropriate word to describe it), her husband Zenbei initially refused to comply. Yet, he relented after Oyasama had gone without food or rest for nearly three days. The moment which Zenbei relented to God’s demand is considered to mark the “founding” of Tenrikyo. Oyasama’s words and actions thereafter are believed to be sacred, ultimately emerging from God’s intention.

After having been established as the “Shrine of Tsukihi” in this way, Oyasama began “falling to the depths of poverty.” Her effort to divest the Nakayama home of all personal and family possessions was viewed as excessive by her immediate family and her relatives. This gave them reason to vehemently oppose her effort. Eventually, relatives and fellow villagers ostracized her and her children. (Refer to Chapter Three of The Life of Oyasama for details.)

It took some time before a second wave of opposition—this time from practitioners of various religions—began to emerge. The first known instance of such opposition came in 1864, initiated by a physician by the name of Furukawa Bungo, who was accompanied by a couple of yamabushi monks. The so-called “first Oyamato Shrine Incident,” in which followers celebrating the raising of the beam for the Place for the Service inadvertently interrupted a Shinto priest who was allegedly in the middle of beseeching the kami to expel the foreign powers that were encroaching on Japan’s autonomy,[1] also in took place in 1864. Other instances of opposition occurred in 6/1865 and autumn 1866, motivating Oyasama’s son Shuji to apply for a license with Yoshida Shinto so that they could legitimately practice their faith.

Things were relatively calm until 1874, when Oyasama sent two of her followers to ask about the deities that were enshrined at Oyamato Shrine, an event referred to as the “second Oyamato Shrine Incident.” This incident helped launch a wave of persecution from religious and government authorities that would pretty much last until State Shinto was formally abolished with Japan’s defeat in World War II. (It may be added, however, that there was a significant lull in state regulation of religious activities during the so-called “Taisho democracy.”)

To conclude…

It may be worthy to note that the established narratives of Oyasama’s life portray how spirited she was whenever the police came to take her away for interrogation or arrest. As it may have been too much to ask her followers to carry on in the face of persecution with the same fortitude she did (although the courage Iburi Izo showed while he was led away to Nara Prison on one occasion is particularly notable), I imagine her suggestion to “set out slowly after the storm stops” functioned to encourage those who felt active resistance was not the ideal way to proceed.[2]

As for a different take geared for the modern adherent, the publication Ikuri kotoba (Living words) offers:

Oyasama compared opposition and interference against the path to a stormy wind. A stormy wind has great momentum. Any attempt to overcome or to face it off may cause grave injury. There are times when one needs to check one’s impatience and wait things out instead. It can be said that this is indicating a mindset that takes a wider perspective of things (p. 165).

Finally, I have to wonder if the instructions offered in Anecdotes 183 ought to inspire Tenrikyo adherents to be natural sympathizers of any movement that practices nonviolent resistance in the vein of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Sources cited

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

Yamochi Tatsuzō. 1984. Kōhon Tenrikyō Oyasama den nyūmon jikkō. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.

Further reading

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 73

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 136

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 138

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 153 and 154


[1] Tenrikyō Seinenkai Shiryōchōsa-han. 1987. “Kyōsoden shiryō no kentō: Nakayama Miki kenkyū nōto hihan.” Arakitōryō 149 (Fall 1987), p. 127. 

[2] Yamochi Tatsuzo once described followers’ response to the attacks by monks in the mid-1860s as follows:

Basically, one would characterize Tenrikyo followers as being meek and gentle. Oyasama said, “God favors a fool,” so even the smarter ones were people who just sat there with their mouths open. Since one has to become a fool to understand the essence of faith, they truly were fools among fools. Since becoming a fool is a part of Tenrikyo training, this makes Tenrikyo people different from Buddhists. For instance, adherents of a particular religion tend have a stern look on their face. Tenrikyo followers are meek and quiet. Becoming indignant that there was no one to have a swordfight with, the monks turned their rage to make a mess, cutting and slashing at drums and sliding paper screens. The followers at the Residence just trembled and did nothing to fight back (p. 175).