Seventh Installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” Lecture Series, part 2

The seventh installment of part two of the “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” lecture series, sponsored by the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion, was held at 13:00 on October 25. The lecturer was Midori Horiuchi sensei and she was assigned to discuss Song Eleven (Jūichi Kudari-me) of the Mikagura-uta. The title of the lecture was “Mada aru naraba washi mo yuko” (“If yet it continues, I, too, will go.”)

Here is the current official translation of Song Eleven:


First, At Shoyashiki in the homeland of the Sun, The Jiba, the abode of God, is to be identified.

Second, Husband and wife working together in hinokishin; This is the first seed of everything.

Third, I behold more and more people coming from the world, And bearing straw baskets in hinokishin.

Fourth, Forgetting greed we work in hinokishin. This becomes the first fertilizer.

Fifth, Forever continues the carrying of earth. If yet it continues, I, too, will go.

Sixth, Do not unreasonably stop anyone! I welcome any and everyone who is willing.

Seventh, How remarkable this carrying of earth is, When it serves as a contribution to God!

Eighth, Digging up the earth of the Residence, You just carry it from one place to another.

Ninth, Until this time, no one has ever understood My heart; How regretful it is!

Finally, This year, without fertilizing, We reaped a sufficient harvest. Oh, how delighted we are! How thankful we are!


Lecture Seven: “Mada aru naraba washi mo yuko” (Song Eleven) by Midori Horiuchi (translation of Tenri jiho article, November, 1, 2009 edition, p. 4)

Song Eleven is the “hinokishin” chapter, and sensei Tadamasa Fukaya once explained, it “describes the children of the Path who joyfully dedicate themselves to the construction of the yakata of God.[1] In brief, hinokishin is the central theme. . .” (Commentary on the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Tsutome, p. 141).


Among the Three Scriptures, teachings on hinokishin are concentrated in the Mikagura-uta, The Songs of the Service. It is not an exaggeration to say that hinokishin is the principle of all conduct in the path. It is profoundly significant that it is taught in The Songs of the Service.


Yoshinori Moroi sensei has stated: “The mindset with which we perform the Service Dance (Teodori) and the mindset with which we devote ourselves to hinokishin informs each other…. They both especially have a close connection to one another in terms of religious feeling. Hinokishin and the Teodori, together with salvation work (o-tasuke), make up the three dynamic embodiments central to our faith (Hinokishin josetsu; “Introductory study to hinokishin“).


In the light of Moroi sensei’s interpretation, just as we dance spiritedly each day, hinokishin is the means through which we express in action, on a daily basis, our joy and gratitude of being kept alive. This in turn, becomes connected to “salvation.”


Further, the attitude we demonstrate when we take delight, finding joy and true contentment (tanno) in how we are kept alive irrespective of difficult and hindering circumstances (nangi-fujiyu) and the act of hinokishin are two sides of the same coin. I believe that these are directly and indirectly connected to the salvation of both the self and other.


Truly, “the Service,” “salvation,” and “hinokishin” are all related to one another.


Now, the word “hinokishin” appears eight times in The Songs of the Service (including words such as “earth-carrying” and “contribution,” which have the same meaning). For instance, in Song Eleven, hinokishin allows us to deepen our faith, becoming the “seed of everything” (monodane) (verse two), “fertilizer” (verse four), and the basis of respecting and helping one another, as sung in “Husband and wife working together” (verse two).


Here, I’d like to look at various interpretations regarding the theme for this lecture: “Forever continues the carrying of earth. If yet it continues, I, too, will go” (verse five).


Nagao Takanori sensei has explained the act of hinokishin as, “not something that is just done once, but an deed that is replicated on a normal basis and is a part of the endless construction” (Mikagura-uta no kokoro). Further, Masayoshi Ando strongly urges the implementation of hinokishin after interpreting “If yet it continues, I, too, will go” (mada aru nara, literally, “if it is still there”) as meaning “the causality brought over from previous lifetimes and dust of the current lifetime that still remain to be cleansed” (Mikagura-uta kowa).


Shozen Nakayama, the second Shinbashira, once expressed the characteristic of The Songs of the Service as “teachings for life” (seimei-teki kyodo). This is because The Songs of the Service has the power to rouse people and provide the momentum for salvation.


Among its teachings, “hinokishin” holds the promise of the joy of faith in action. One’s salvation is brought into reality in how prays for the happiness of others without seeking reward by connecting one with the purification of one’s heart.


It is safe to say that we, believers of the path, are urged to implement the ultimate “contribution to others” through engaging the mind and body in the act of hinokishin. 

(End of translation)



Although it was not included in the summary above, I must mention what I personally found Horiuchi sensei’s explanation of one of the central themes of the Bhagavad Gita to be quite interesting; it was the first time I’ve ever heard anyone talk about the Hindu scripture in Japanese.


Translation note

[1]Yakata of God” is an early attempt to translate “Oyasato-yakata.”