Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 198

198. With Any Flower (donna hana demo na)

Once Yonosuke Shimizu, Shirobei Umetani, and Tora Hirano had gathered before Oyasama and were talking with each other about how their [confraternities] were not advancing as they had hoped. Oyasama said:

“With any flower, there are years when it blooms and there are years when it does not bloom. Even if it does not bloom one year, when the year changes it will bloom again.”

It is said that Oyasama comforted them in this way.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 155–156

Information / insight from Sato Koji

Yonosuke Shimizu makes his only appearance in Anecdotes here, so it may be useful to mention he was the procurement officer of the Hyogo Shinmei-gumi Confraternity.

Umetani Shirobei has already made several appearances in Anecdotes. I have most recently discussed him in Anecdotes 184. He was the director of the Meishin-gumi Confraternity.

Hirano Tora also appeared earlier in Anecdotes 189. It is said that Anecdotes 198 must have happened some time after the spring of 1886, after her husband Narazo embraced the faith. Narazo led a confraternity, initially named “神清組” (I assume it would have been read “Shinsei-gumi”), which was renamed “Tenryu-ko” 天龍講 by the first Shinbashira Nakayama Shinnosuke in the 8th lunar month of 1886 (Sato, p. 92).

Sato Koji has revealed that between February and December 1886, Hirano Narazo and Tora were able to gain 500 member households as converts. Nevertheless, it is mentioned above that she discussed with Shimizu and Umetani how their confraternities “were not advancing as they hoped.” Sato Koji suggests that even though the membership of Tenryu-ko was growing quite rapidly, the Hiranos may still have had trouble managing their confraternity because they were in dire financial straits (p. 93).

He next mentions that Umetani Shirobei would have likely been thinking about how he failed to gain legal recognition for his Meishin-gumi Confraternity (p. 94). Therefore, he may not have been necessarily worried about its growth per se.

Finally, Sato Koji suggests that Shimizu Yonosuke’s problem might have stemmed from a lack of unity in his confraternity since there may have been too many people with leadership positions at Hyogo Shinmei-gumi. A man by the name of Hashida Hisakichi 端田久吉 held the director’s position (komoto 講元). There were three others who were called “guardians” (koken 後見) and Shimizu was merely one of 19 procurement officers (shusenkata 周旋方).

To add some background info, Shimizu embraced the faith in 1883 after Hashida’s efforts helped his elder brother recover from an illness. Shimizu was later tapped by the first Shinbashira to help with the effort of establishing legal recognition that would have allowed Oyasama’s followers to freely practice their faith. Thus, it is imagined he was a constant presence at the Residence in 1886 and 1887.

When these three individuals talked about their respective difficulties, Oyasama is said to have instructed: “With any flower, there are years when it blooms and there are years when it does not bloom. Even if it does not bloom one year, when the year changes it will bloom again.”

Sato Koji paraphrases the above instruction as, “Even if we may encounter circumstances that run against our expectations, we are bound to get good results someday if we unfailingly exert our efforts” (p. 90).


The effort to gain legal permission to freely practice Oyasama’s teachings finally bore fruit in 1888, the year after Oyasama “withdrew from physical life.” Civil authorization to establish “Shinto Tenri Kyokai” headquarters in Tokyo (as a “church” under the Shinto Honkyoku) was granted on April 10. After the successful application to relocate the headquarters to Jiba was granted on July 22, the many confraternities that had existed as illegal entities until that point began their own application processes with local prefectural governments to establish branch churches of the Tenri Kyokai.

Why am I writing this, you may ask? I just thought it would be worthy to note that the three people mentioned in Anecdotes 198 all played an important role in the founding of three of the first five Tenrikyo branch churches. Here is the list of the first five branch churches that were established:

  1. Yamana Bunkyokai (permission to establish this church was granted through the Osashizu on December 5, 1888)
  2. Koriyama Bunkyokai (permission granted December 11, 1888)
  3. Ashitsu Bunkyokai (permission granted January 15, 1889)
  4. Heishin Bunkyokai (permission granted January 15, 1889)
  5. Senba Bunkyokai (permission granted January 15, 1889)

The first minister of Koriyama (#2) was Hirano Narazo, Hirano Tora’s husband. The first minister of Heishin (#4) was Shimizu Yonosuke. The first minister of Senba (#5) was Umetani Shirobei.

The current grand church numerical system designates Koriyama as #1, Heishin as #2, and Senba as #4.


Satō Kōji. 2009. “Jinsei: 198 ‘donna hana demo na’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 3. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 89–99.

Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, ed. 1981. Tenrikyō gaisetsu. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Shuppanbu.

Tenrikyō Kyōgi oyobi Shiryō Shūseibu, ed. 1963. Nakayama Shinnosuke den. Tenri: Tenrikyō Dōyūsha.