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

The Eighth 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 November 25. The lecturer was Kazuhiro Hatakama sensei and he was assigned to discuss Song Twelve (Juni Kudari-me) of the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service. The title of the lecture was “Daiku no nin mo soroi kita” (“Members of carpenters have assembled”).

Here is the present official translation of Song Twelve:


First, Initially to the invocation of the carpenter, I leave any and every detail.

Second, When you begin the marvelous construction, Give instructions after invoking My will!

Third, From all over the world, carpenters are coming one after another. Sprinkle My fragrance on them!

Fourth, When you find good masters, Quickly bring them to this original home!

Fifth, In the future four masters will be needed. Quickly invoke My will!

Sixth, I never compel you to come forth. Yet you will come along one after another.

Seventh, Ever so remarkable is this work of construction; Once begun, there shall be no end to it.

Eighth, When you go into the mountains, Take with you the wood master!

Ninth, Here are the fine work master, The framing master and the planer.

Finally, This time, all the members of carpenters have assembled.


Lecture Eight: “Daiku no nin mo soroi kita” (Song Twelve) by Kazuhiro Hatakama (translation of Tenri jiho article, December 13, 2009 edition, p. 4)


Song Twelve is the concluding (final) Song of the Mikagura-uta, and its main themes refer to workers[1] for a construction such as “daiku” (carpenter(s)) and toryo (master(s)).


First of all, in addition to followers and Yoboku in a wide sense, the word “daiku” refers to the Honseki, Izo Iburi. This is clear in the Divine Directions that say: “[The man] called the Honseki was a former carpenter. You do not understand what the conclusion of the Twelve Songs means, do you?” (Osashizu, July 17, 1890)


In the same set of Directions delivered on the same day, there are instructions covering the meanings of verses two and three from Song Eight: “Though wondrous construction is carried out, I do not ask a favor of anyone. If everyone comes together and it is accomplished, if people become spirited, God, also will be spirited.” Also, there is a warning that goes “Make sure that there are no mistakes in the singing from now on.”


Further, there is mention of “Everyone in the world are brothers and sisters” and “a family sharing one cooking pot” in the same set of Divine Directions.


The Residence at the time was home to various believers with differences in the year when they embraced the faith, what generation they belonged to, or their position in society. For this reason, I imagine that God was seeking to have everyone become united in the spirit of verse one — “Initially to the invocation of the carpenter, I leave any and every detail” — under the supervision of the carpenter (the Honseki).


It is clear that followers were strongly aware of The Songs of the Service in the backdrop when this set of Divine Directions was delivered.


Moving on, in Song Twelve, there is “In the future four masters will be needed” (verse five). However, in the Song itself, only three of these masters are clearly identified. (There are interpretations that account for all four.)


I wonder if it is possible to consider that we have been entrusted to provide our own insight when it comes to what the weighty roles of these masters refers to?


Furthermore, I would like to turn our attention to the three occurrences of the conditional “naraba“: “When you begin the marvelous construction,” (verse two) “When you find good masters” (verse four), and “When you go into the mountains” (verse eight). The Song then concludes with the phrase “all the members of carpenters have assembled” before any construction actually begins.


Regarding this, Tadamasa Fukaya sensei writes, “the Mikagura-uta ends with a scene in which the carpenters and masters are assembled. . . . The scene is one of joy in which the workers are about to begin construction, and the picture is filled with the promise of joy through application to the path of faith” (Commentary on the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Tsutome, pp. 159-160). In other words, the “conclusion” is not the end, but can be considered a genuine “beginning” of faith-based pursuits.

Such a configuration of “an ending equaling a beginning” is not limited to the Mikagura-uta. In Divine Directions delivered on the lunar calendar date of 1/26/1887 when Oyasama withdrew from physical life, there is the passage “the Parent… [will] step out and save the world from now.” Further, the Ofudesaki ends with the verse “I earnestly request each and everyone of you to ponder deeply over these teachings” (17:75).


In this view, instead of its content offering a systematic conclusion in terms of doctrine, just as the theme of “master(s)” I mentioned earlier, I’d like to consider Song Twelve as God’s and Oyasama’s series of questions directed to us Yoboku.


This Song overflows with an unending, warm parental love that expects us to seek insight and implementation [of the teachings].

(End of translation)



I was too busy last month to attend the lecture myself and I immediately regretted missing it when I realized Hatakama sensei was the lecturer. I can only imagine what insights he provided that were not covered in the summary from Tenri jiho. (*Disclaimer: While I always give my best effort in my translation efforts, any inaccuracies in my translation above are my responsibility alone.)


Translation note

[1] The original phrase is “dogu-shu” [道具衆]. The conventional gloss for this term is “instruments” (ala followers and Yoboku serving in the capacity of “Oyasama’s instruments”) but I decided to go an unconventional route in this particular translation.