191. Welcome Home (yō, harubaru)
On May 5, 1886, Torakichi Tagawa and people of twenty-six families of Tanokuchi Village in Tajima Province, formed a [confraternity]. He was selected as its head. At that time, he was seventeen years old. This was the start of the Tenchi-gumi Seventh [Confraternity] (later renamed the Ninth).
On August 29th of the same year, Tagawa and eight others set out from the village for Jiba. They arrived in Osaka on September 1st. That evening, while staying at an inn, Tagawa suffered acute stomach pains. He had a continuous attack of vomiting and diarrhea throughout the night. At that time cholera was prevalent in Osaka. The party members were shocked and extremely apprehensive. They performed the prayer service, and prayed all night for his complete recovery. At last his condition began to improve as dawn drew near. They set out that morning before daybreak. With [Tagawa] still in bad condition, the group went through the Jusan Pass and through Tatsuta to Shoyashiki Village and stayed at Jukichi Nakayama’s house. That night, Chusaku Tsuji and Risaburo Yamamoto came from the Residence to give a talk. Chusaku Tsuji administered the Sazuke to Tagawa. After that Tagawa did not suffer from any pain.
The next day, the party visited the Jiba of Origin and worshiped at the Place for the Service. They were led to the Resting House and were granted an audience with Oyasama. When they met Her, She was wearing Her red garments and sitting very erect. She said:
“Welcome home from such a distant place.”
Oyasama’s gracious words moved Tagawa to tears. Never forgetting this feeling for the rest of his life, he actively pursued missionary work with all his heart and soul.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 150–151
Oyasama is quoted in Anecdotes 191 as saying, “Welcome home from such a distant place.” In of itself, there isn’t anything particularly profound about these words. It can easily be imagined that Oyasama greeted anyone who came beyond the immediate area surrounding Jiba with a similar phrase.
When one considers that there were followers who regularly returned from all the way from Shizuoka (Anecdotes 187) and Tokushima (Anecdotes 152), Tajima Province (modern-day Hyogo Prefecture) may not seem so distant, but it is possible that landlocked Yamato was not easily accessible from Tajima at the time.
What made Oyasama’s words so memorable for Tagawa Torakichi? The physical condition he was in before reaching Jiba obviously had a role. His condition improved after the members of his confraternity conducted a prayer service on his behalf. His pain stopped after an intermediary administered the Sazuke to him when he reached Shoyashiki Village. It was undoubtedly an emotional moment for him to meet the woman who introduced the Service and Sazuke that served as catalysts for his recovery.
Extra information from Tenrikyo jiten, kyokai-hen
Tagawa Torakichi would go on to become the first minister of Ikuno Shikyokai, founded in 1892. Ikuno was made a daikyokai (“grand church”) in 1940 and there is an entry dedicated to its history in a thick volume entitled Tenrikyo jiten, kyokaishi-hen (Tenrikyo encyclopedic dictionary, church histories edition). I will present several pieces of information I found in that entry here.
Its account of Tagawa’s recovery from cholera has a description that reads: “Tsuji Chusaku draped a thoroughly weakened Tagawa Torakichi with Oyasama’s red clothes and administered the Sazuke” (p. 67).
When Tagawa returned to his home village, the prayer services conducted at his confraternity would help 18 out of 20 people recover from their illnesses. There was one occasion when their prayers conducted at the village tutelary shrine brought a woman back to life three hours after she stopped breathing.
Tagawa was granted the Sazuke on November 5, 1888 during his second “return” pilgrimage to Jiba. After Tenrikyo Church Headquarters was legally established in 1888, the family of Tenchi-gumi confraternities were reorganized and renumbered. By August 1890, Tagawa’s confraternity had seven branch confraternities of its own and its membership list included roughly 700 households.
Despite that he had become the minister of Ikuno Shikyokai by then, Tagawa was drafted in the military during the Sino-Japanese war. There is an account describing that while on active duty in China, he climbed a wall to get to a house where someone was ill. He wrote “天理王命” (Tenri-O-no-Mikoto) in big characters on a piece of paper and administered the Sazuke to a mother and her children. They were said to have been blessed with a vivid recovery in three days.
Tagawa also had an active role in limiting damage from two heretical movements after his return (one between 1897 and 1904 and another between 1911 and 1918). The concluding sentence of Anecdotes 191 above—”Never forgetting this feeling for the rest of his life, he actively pursued missionary work with all his heart and soul”—makes even a deeper impression when one considers how his life unfolded in the years after his encounter with Oyasama.
Tagawa Torakichi’s son Torao took over as church minister of Ikuno on November 1, 1932. Tagawa Torakichi was promoted a Honbu-in (executive official of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters) on April 28, 1939. He welcomed a visitation from the second Shinbashira Nakayama Shozen (1905–1967) at the dedication service commemorating Ikuno becoming a grand church on May 5, 1941. He was also able to attend the service celebrating Ikuno’s 50th anniversary in October 1942. He passed away at the age of 75 on July 31, 1944.
Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, ed. 1989. Tenrikyo jiten, kyokaishi hen. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.
 According to Anecdotes 199, such prayer services “consisted of the seated service and the entire Teodori, and was performed three times during the day and three times during the night. As it was performed in this way for three days and nights consecutively, the performers went without sleep or rest.”
 In Anecdotes 67, Oyasama slips one of her red garments over the head of a sick young man, who later recovers. Anecdotes 136 describes Oyasama instructing Nakata Gisaburo to use a red garment she bestows him to “save others.” He subsequently uses it to stroke the ailing areas of people he encounters during his missionary efforts.