A kite in flight (Image source: Wikipedia Japan)
192. A Kite Cries “Toh, Toh” (tonbu tōto)
This is a story about Sotaro Kajimoto, Oyasama‘s great-grandson, which took place in approximately 1887 when he was about seven. Oyasama gave him a section of a tangerine, turning it inside out by inserting Her finger. She said:
“The kite cries ‘toh, toh,’ and the crow, ‘caw, caw,’ “
“Stick out your finger.”
When he stuck out his finger, She placed the section on his finger. Sotaro enjoyed eating it that way.
When he received another section of the tangerine, he, imitating Oyasama, put it on his finger, and then he stuck it out in front of Oyasama. She enjoyed eating it that way.
193. By Himself Soon (hayō hitori de)
These are incidents reminisced by Sotaro Kajimoto:
Receiving some cookies or candies from Oyasama, we, children at that time, went toward the Main Sanctuary and ate them while playing together. When the sweets were gone, we ran back to Oyasama. We held out our hands and She gave us more. We ate them up and ran back to Her again. We must have said, “Grandma, may we have some more?” and I believe we ran back to Her three or four times.
However, She never once said, “Didn’t I just give you some?” Neither did She give the sweets to us all at once to avoid the bother. She gave us just enough to eat, a little at a time. Oyasama loved children very much. When I asked Hisa Yamazawa, my wife’s mother, she agreed.
Now and then Oyasama visited the Kajimoto family in Ichinomoto. On such occasions, she brought some sweets in Her purse to give to the children of the family and to the children of the neighborhood.
Among great-grandchildren of Oyasama, I was the first born of the boys. Among the girls, there was Omoto. Now, it is said that Oyasama said of me:
“Oh, I hope that he will be able to come by himself soon!”
It is also said that when my younger brother Kunijiro Shimamura was born, Oyasama said:
“My, what a fair-complexioned fine boy!”
and held him in Her arms. I often heard of these incidents from both my mother, Uno, and my mother–in-law Yamazawa.
Once Oyasama carried both Manjiro Yoshikawa and me on Her back at the same time. There was a time when She came to the east side of the Nakaminami-Gatehouse wearing zori similar to fujikura-zori (thongs which are knitted with rush at the front).
Oyasama’s voice was sweet and gentle. She had a slender figure. Her face was oval and Her mouth and chin were identical with that of Her daughter, Omasa, although Omasa’s face was a little rounder. Now in regard to their figure, Omasa was on the masculine side but Oyasama was on the feminine side. Oyasama’s back was not bent.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 151–152
Background information and insight from Kaneko Akira
I was able to stumble upon an article that revealed that Kajimoto Sotaro’s autobiography is most likely the source for both Anecdotes 192 and most of the information found in Anecdotes 193. Consider the following passage:
From Oyasama’s standpoint, I was Her great-grandchild. Since I was the firstborn male, I often went to the Residence ever since I was a baby. Mother Yamazawa (Hisa) told me that Oyasama each time I went, She always said, “Oh, I hope that he will be able to come by himself soon!”
Whenever my father Matsujiro visited the Residence, he would receive something as a present from Oyasama and I remember as a child how I waited with much anticipation to see what it would be. I don’t exactly recall when it was, but I still remember now how happy I was when my father came home with a large silverberry branch with lots of berries on his shoulder.
I believe this happened a little before Oyasama withdrew from physical life. Oyasama always doted on children. When She came to visit us in Ichinomoto, She always brought sweets in a purse with drawstrings made from wood shavings (this purse is stored in the Shinbashira’s home). When I or any of the other neighborhood children would go to Her side, She always gave us something from Her purse. As children, because we knew that She would give us something if we went to Her side, we would go to Her side and hold out our hand to Her. And She would definitely put something in our hand. Since such was the case, I looked forward to going to the Residence and went often. We would go from the Main Sanctuary worship hall to Her Resting House. She would give us something and we went back to play while eating it. When it was gone, we would go to Her side and hold out our hand to Her again. She would again give us something. We would then go again. Oh, we went back to Her maybe three or four times that way.
But Oyasama would never once said, “Didn’t I just give you some?” No matter how many times we went to Her, She smiled and always gave us something. When I think about it now, She chose to give us just enough to eat each time. It brings back sweet memories! I am so grateful that She showed such deep sensitivity to us.
When it was the season for tangerines, after peeling the rind, She would take each piece and quickly peel it, swiftly turning it inside out. The way She stuck it on Her finger made it look exactly like a bird. She would then make it as if it were really flying and say, “Here, the kite flies and the crow caws.” I remember how She would bring it to my mouth and feed me that way. Sometimes I would try to do the same and when I fed it to Her, She would eat it with great gusto.
I don’t recall exactly when, but one time Oyasama carried me and Yoshikawa Manjiro on Her back from Her room to the gatehouse wearing a pair of zori.
Whenever I hear someone talk about Oyasama, it especially brings back memories of that time. How can I describe it? Whenever I remember it, it feels as if a beautiful picture scroll is being unfolded before me (pp. 137–138).
I find it interesting to compare the slight differences between the two accounts. Further, it may also be interesting to compare the last paragraph of Anecdotes 193 with the description supplied in The Life of Oyasama, pp. 122–124.
Theologian Kaneko Akira has mentioned that these stories found in Anecdotes 193 are notable in two ways (p. 136):
- It depicts Oyasama toward the end of her physical lifetime through the eyes of a young child.
- It demonstrates her loving anticipation for this child to mature (“Oh, I hope that he will be able to come by himself soon!”). In a theological sense, one could even plausibly assert that Oyasama has the same loving anticipation to all of her “children.”
Kaneko Akira, also supplies an assortment of other stories in his article.
Asada Tokujiro happened to live with the Kajimotos. When he was about 12 (circa 1882), he went to sit in the garden of the Residence after he had brought a letter for Nakayama Shinnosuke. Oyasama came out with a reward for him. As he held his hand out he knew it was a chestnut just by touch. Oyasama continued to watch him as he started to put it in his mouth. Smiling, she then slipped into a back room (p. 139).
Circa 1879 or 1880, Oyasama’s daughter Masa would sometimes invite a dancing instructor from Tanbaichi to dance at the Residence. The instructor was a woman named Mika and she would bring her daughters and other young girls from her village to dance to songs such as “Yarisabi” and others. Oyasama would invite children to come and watch, giving out konpeito candies as she did so.
Several witnesses have attested that Oyasama often had these candies ready at hand to give to children. Among them was Nakagawa Kikue, a childhood friend and schoolmate of Oyasama’s granddaughter Tamae.
After describing these accounts, Kaneko Akira wonders where the adults were, as their appearances in such stories are rare. He then notes how the Residence was under constant police surveillance and that Oyasama was often taken away in their custody. Nakagawa Kikue later attested that the police kept guard outside and that it was not easy at all for followers to enter the Residence. It may be said that only children were able to come and go freely as they pleased. (pp. 140–141)
The childhood accounts related above show that in the eyes of the children at the time, the Residence was pervaded with a warm and relaxing atmosphere despite official oppression and interference. Oyasama’s great-grandson Sotaro himself described his memories as if they were scenes from a beautiful picture scroll (p. 141).
Kaneko Akira goes on to write that although no one can say for sure to what extent Oyasama’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren were aware that people considered her to be a living goddess (thereby making the Residence a divine space), they did what all children do naturally: they played in God’s bosom in a manner that could be described as “joyous play.” Oyasama also enjoyed the process of repeatedly giving sweets to Sotaro and the others no matter how many times they came to her to receive them (pp. 141–142).
Kaneko Akira then points out the importance for children to live each day in delight, writing: “This is because our childhood memories of play and fun times become lifelong treasures. The attitude Oyasama displayed when She interacted with these children truly was an effort to make treasures that would last for a lifetime” (p. 143). He then suggests that Oyasama’s words, “Oh, I hope that he will be able to come by himself soon!” can be interpreted to mean “I hope he will grow up soon and come to worship on his on accord without his parents having to bring him.”
I conclude here by quoting Kaneko Akira’s closing words:
The essence of the Joyous Life is joyous play, which amounts to the opening of a world where children spend their time in delight, receiving sweets and riding piggyback. Just as how Sotaro and the others received konpeito candies from Oyasama and rode on Her back, it is like a world painted on a picture scroll. Or at least this is what I envision.
Oyasama had said: “I cannot allow anyone to leave this house without first being filled with joy. To Me, the Parent, all human beings in the world are My children.” When we reread Anecdotes 193 “By Himself Soon” with such a broad religious context in mind, we can savor again Oyasama’s immense compassion (pp. 154–155).
Kaneko Akira. 2009. “Kodomo: 193 ‘hayō hitori de’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 3. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 135–157.