188. Permanent Staff of the Residence (yashiki ni jōzume)
Around noon on August 25, 1886, a short and stocky man came to the Residence and announced himself as the head of the Nara Police Station. He was received by Oyasama, and afterward left the Residence.
That night, someone pounded at the gate of the Residence, almost to the point of breaking it. Yoshie Iburi asked who it was, and the answer came, I am the head of the Nara Police Station. I visited here this afternoon. Open the gate!” Although Yoshie thought it was strange, she opened the gate and suddenly five or six ruffians rushed into the kitchen, all shouting, “Let’s set fire to this Residence and burn it down tonight.” Yoshie was shocked, ran into a room and shut the door behind her. The room led to Oyasama’s room.
The ruffians then hurled the brazier from the kitchen, raising a storm of ashes in the room. Bowls and dishes were smashed. Intermediaries who were sitting in conference upstairs heard the rumbling sounds and screaming voices, and rushed downstairs. They fought the ruffians at the risk of their lives.
This happened to be the day of Ohimachi,* and villagers were meeting in a neighbor’s house. They also heard the uproar and hastened to the scene in a crowd. They helped to overcome the ruffians and then informed the police of the situation.
Narazo Hirano, took the six ruffians to the Tofuya Inn and, after giving them a serious lecture on their misconduct, released them.
On that day, Oyasama paid Her tribute of praise to Hirano:
“It was a chance for you to show your courage. Starting tomorrow you shall join the permanent staff of the Residence.”
* Ohimachi originally was an overnight gathering where people purified themselves and on the following morning worshiped the sunrise. Later it became a festival where villagers feasted together after rice-planting or harvest.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 148–149
Supplemental information from Taimo (translation)
Hirano Narazo: A Honbu-in (executive official of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters) and the first minister of Koriyama Daikyokai.
Born in 1845 in Onji Village, Takayasu County, Kawachi Province (modern day Onji, Yao City, Osaka Prefecture).
After falling ill, his sister and brother-in-law recommend him to embrace the faith in circa 1884 or 1885.
He stops breathing after having a seizure in February 1886 but receives the wondrous protection that allows him to resume breathing. In July the same year, he receives the name Tenryu-ko for his confraternity (now Koriyama Daikyokai).
Koriyama is founded in 1888 as a bunkyokai (branch church). He passed away for rebirth in 1907.
Refer to Footsteps of Our Predecessors 47 for an account detailing how Hirano Narazo miraculously was saved from death. A different account of the episode described in Anecdotes 188 also happens to appear in pages 214–215 of The Life of Oyasama.
It may be worthy to note that Hirano Narazo was once a gangster with roughly 400 henchmen before he reformed himself through Oyasama’s path. Given his background, one presumes it wasn’t too difficult for him to physically confront the “six ruffians” who disturbed the Residence considering that he had some help. The account in The Life of Oyasama reveals that the leader of the intruders and Narazo later realized they actually knew each other.
Seeing how Narazo became a director of a confraternity just five months after his brink with death and joined the permanent staff of the Residence a month after this exhibits Oyasama’s high expectations of him despite of his criminal background. There are also accounts describing that after he was miraculously brought back to life, he stayed in Jiba and went to pay his respects to Oyasama while she was incarcerated at Ichinomoto Police Station.
One could even say that Narazo soon found himself on the fast track in the nascent Tenrikyo organization. After Tenrikyo gained legal authorization in 1888, Koriyama Bunkyokai became the first Tenrikyo branch church that was established and also became the first grand church when this classification was introduced in 1908.
Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 147–151.
Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2008. “Oyasama: fūfu no kokoro ga dai.” Taimō 473 (May 2008), pp. 16–17.