The Final Osashizu
The history of the path until 1907
Once Tenrikyo obtained legal status in 1888, followers who burned with the conviction they were being protected by God the Parent and the everliving Oyasama began to spread Her message of universal salvation as far and wide as they could. By the 10th Anniversary of Oyasama in 1896, there were over 1,200 churches spread throughout every prefecture of Japan with the exception of Okinawa.
However, because of its explosive growth, Tenrikyo attracted the suspicious eye of the public and the state. In April 1896 the Home Ministry issued a Secret Directive1 to enact a nationwide oppression and the Shinto Honkyoku pressured Church Headquarters to adopt changes that would align the teachings with state ideology. The year 1899 saw the beginning of the “drive toward sectarian independence” to separate Tenrikyo from the direct authority of the Shinto Honkyoku. Over the next eight years the government rejected each of Tenrikyo’s four petitions for independence.
Because there was an ongoing recession in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War and a famine in northeastern Japan, many at Church Headquarters did not expect many followers to return for the 20th Anniversary of Oyasama in 1906. But just as the Osashizu (Divine Directions) had predicted several years before that many followers would return, well over 10,000 pilgrims were at Jiba for the 20th Anniversary.
The “Hundred-Day Osashizu”
In 1907, Church Headquarters faced a financial crisis that resulted from the four failed petitions for independence and growing operational expenses to run the Tenri Seminary. This led God the Parent to reprimand leading followers for their carelessness, beginning a series of revelations that took place between March 13 and June 9, 1907.
The Honseki’s condition became critical on more than several occasions during this time. These Divine Directions are now commonly known as the “Hundred-Day Osashizu,” named so from the words “I will deliver ten years (worth) of instructions in 100 days” (June 5, 1907, 1:30 a.m.; trial translation). The “Hundred-Day Osashizu” contain Tenrikyo’s final revelations and cover three main themes:
- The “Three Houses”
- Establishing the successor to the position of bestowing the truth of the Sazuke; and
- Instructions for the construction of the Main Sanctuary for the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama.
The “Three Houses”
In the Osashizu, the “Three Houses” refer to the three branches of the Iburi family founded by the three children of Izo and Sato: Yoshie (Nagao house), Masae (Iburi branch house), and Masajin (Iburi main house).
Although the futures of the Nagao (Yoshie) and the main Iburi houses (Masajin) were secure, Masae, while receiving a number of marriage proposals, remained single throughout her life. This left her without an heir. The Divine Directions of April 8, 1907 (6 a.m.) directly dealt with this issue by revealing God’s intention for Masae to be allowed to adopt Yoshie’s second daughter as her heir.
When one takes into account Oyasama’s words to the Iburi family when they first moved into the Residence in 1881 and 1882 (“Do not move for eternity. Do not be moved.”), the Divine Directions involving the “Three Houses” were integral to the future of Church Headquarters. Oyasama instructed the members of the Iburi family to live eternally at Jiba to serve Church Headquarters for endless generations.
According to Rev. Kazuo Hiraki, the issues brought up with the “Three Houses” not only concern the three Iburi families but also awaken us to God the Parent’s intention when it comes to approaching similar issues involving people who are drawn to become live-in staff members of Tenrikyo churches.
Successor to the position to bestow the truth of the Sazuke
Another important theme in the “Hundred-Day Osashizu” concerned Naraito Ueda, God’s chosen one to succeed Izo to bestow the truth of the Sazuke to followers who completed the Besseki lectures. Naraito Ueda was drawn to the faith in 1876 at the age of 14 and was instructed by Oyasama to live at the Residence. But after Oyasama withdrew from physical life, Naraito returned to live at her home in Sonohara Village.
To prepare for her important role of bestowing the Sazuke, Naraito was instructed by God the Parent to never marry. In August 1902 Naraito received Divine Directions to live and stay at the Residence as the apprentice to the Honseki. In May 1906 God the Parent began to hasten for the construction of a residence specifically built for her. The following year, 4 a.m. on June 6, God said:
Though she may not be graceful at the moment, she will gradually become accustomed to the task.
Osashizu, June 6, 1907, trial translation
God thus declared it was time for Naraito to take over as the person to bestow the Sazuke. Once it was made clear that Naraito would immediately begin bestowing the Sazuke later that day, the Honseki said:
A weight has been taken off these shoulders. I am relieved, I am relieved.
Osashizu, June 6, 1907, trial translation
Construction of the Main Sanctuary
The Main Sanctuary of Church Headquarters in 1907 remained unchanged since 1888 when an annex enclosing the Kanrodai was built.
Followers wished to construct a Sanctuary for Oyasama for the 10th Anniversary of Oyasama, but God the Parent did not allow it, instead hastening the construction of dormitories for returning followers to stay.
It was not until 1907 that the time became ripe to begin constructing the Main Sanctuary for the upcoming 30th Anniversary of Oyasama. By following instructions such as “Including three years for preparation, construction will take more than five years” and others from the “Hundred-Day Osashizu,” our predecessors were able to complete the present North Worship Hall.
June 9, 1907
On June 9 the leading followers gathered before the Honseki and declared: “Since the present suffering of the Honseki is God’s hastening for the construction, we, the head ministers of all subordinate churches, have made a firm determination to put every effort into the construction, not letting up even to take off our workshoes…” Once they announced their resolve in this manner, God replied:
Just a word, just a word, I wish to say that this path is the result of a gradual accumulation of years since the beginning. Over this you must ponder. There has not been a single mistake in what I have taught you. Now you have a reliable path to follow. There is yet a step before you. It requires patience but it will soon be over. I shall accept the willingness of each of you to follow My intent. Recall to mind the path of 20 years. Now you will begin the temporary construction. I have given you sufficient gifts to complete it. This is but a simple matter. You need not worry about a thing. If your minds are in full accord with My will, you need not worry at all. I say to you, this construction will surely be accomplished. Your determined mind is what I accept….
I am fully satisfied. The Seki is satisfied, is satisfied. At this moment, as the Seki’s condition became critical, all of you gathered to seek the resolution for his illness, and united your hearts in spite of your problems, to pray for his recovery once again for ten more years of life. I commend your sincerity. It is a sincerity deserving of My free and unlimited workings. You need not worry whether he will recover or not. Firmly calm your minds. All of you take heart and rejoice, take heart and rejoice.
Osashizu, June 9, 1907
With these words, the Osashizu came to an end.
The Honseki spent most of the three months of the “Hundred-Day Osashizu” ill in bed. But following the above Osashizu on the morning of June 9, he began to show signs of improved health. The first Shinbashira Shinnosuke Nakayama and leading followers decided to leave and allow the Honseki to rest.
Yoshie came in and suggested, “Shall we sweep the bedroom?”
She and Masae, together with a few seinens, held the corners of the Honseki’s bedding and carried it while he was still on top.
The Honseki encouraged everyone by shouting, “Hoiya! Hoiya!” as he was being carried. Once he was set down, the Honseki sat upright and placed his hands neatly on his lap. He gazed out in the garden. A seinen, Yoshijiro Yamamoto (the future fourth head minister of Shikinori Daikyokai), was out pulling weeds under the noonday sun.
Yoshie came in with the Honseki’s lunch tray. As usual, there was rice gruel, clear soup, parched sesame seeds with salt, and pickled plum. That day the Honseki also ate freshwater trout from Gojo Shikyokai and cherries from Azuma Bunkyokai. He asked for the trout bones to be fed to the carp in the garden pond.
After eating three mouthfuls of gruel, the Honseki said, “How thankful, what a delicious meal,” and clapped his hands twice. Closing his eyes, while sitting up with his hands on his lap, he drew his last breath.
Thinking her father was too quiet, Yoshie came in to take a look. She saw that the Honseki was bent over slightly. Startled, she called out to her father but there was only silence.
Yoshie then cried: “Someone, quickly call the Shinbashira! There is something wrong with the Honseki!”
To Shinnosuke, the Honseki was like family since they lived together at the Residence for 25 years. The first Shinbashira rushed to the scene and shouted, “Uncle Izo, Uncle Izo!”
Even after shaking the Honseki in a desperate attempt to revive him, there was no response. A doctor came in to check the Honseki’s pulse. He remorsefully declared, “I am afraid he has passed on.”
The Honseki was 75 years old.
Rev. Narazo Hirano also struggled to come, despite being critically ill himself. Rev. Hirano slowly walked around to fix the Honseki’s topknot which had become undone. Preparations for the funeral took place immediately. The wake lasted for a week and the funeral was conducted on June 15. (As if yearning after the Honseki, Rev. Hirano himself passed away for rebirth on June 17.)
A small package was later found in a drawer of the Honseki’s dresser. Preciously wrapped inside was a thinly-ground ink stick. On the wrapper the following words were written:
The sign of God’s blessing: the Divine Model.
Bearing in mind the resolution they made at the final Osashizu, our predecessors devoted their utmost efforts to complete the construction of the Main Sanctuary (present North Worship Hall) in time for the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama. As they worked toward this goal, there was no doubt that the memory of the Honseki burned freshly and vividly in their hearts.
- This is the final installment in this series (Go to Table of Contents)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Arakitoryo Henshubu. “Oyasama gonensai o tomo ni kyoshi o furikaeru, daiichibu: Oyasama ichi nensai kara sanju nensai made.” Arakitoryo 209, pp. 8–71.
- Iburi Takahiko and Hiraki Kazuo 飯降俊彦・平木一雄. Taidan, Hyakunichi no Osashizu 『対談・百日のおさしづ』.
- Nakayama, Zenye. Guideposts, pp. 16, 28–31, 39–51.
- Okuya Bunchi 奥谷文智, ed. Honseki-sama 『本席さま』, pp. 201–241.
- Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyusho 天理大学おやさと研究所 (Oyasato Research Institute, Tenri University), ed. Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten 『改訂・天理教事典』.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, p. 81.
- Tenrikyo Doyusha 天理教道友, ed. Ten no jogi: Honseki Iburi Izo no shogai 『天の定規―本席飯降伊蔵の生涯』, pp. 155–164.
- Tenrikyo Kyogi oyobi Shiryo Shusei-bu 天理教教義及資料集成部 (Tenrikyo Department of Doctrine and Historical Materials]) ed. Kohon Nakayama Shinnosuke den 『稿本中山眞之亮伝』, chapters four to five.
- Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department. Selections from the Osashizu (revised edition), pp. 51–53, 73–74.
- Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp. 142–144, 146–151.
- A complete translation of Directive Number 12 is as follows:
Recently of late Tenrikyo gathers its adherents in a single hall and allows men and women to mix together, creating a situation that is liable to lead to the corruption of moral standards. The Tenrikyo church also gives out sacred water and sacred charms which mislead the foolish masses, ultimately causing them to reject medicine. Finally, Tenrikyo adherents are led to make reckless donations. Due to the gradual prevalence of these evil practices, there is a pressing necessity to bring them under control. Police surveillance will be increased in the future, either through regular inspections of places open to the public or secret measures to uncover misconduct. Activities which are found to violate the penal code will face immediate and appropriate disciplinary action. Necessary steps will be taken against those who do not follow the law, which include stopping ritual prayers (kito) and sermons in progress. Moreover, regular reports on these situations are expected, together with increased enforcement, with utmost attention particularly directed toward methods of money collection. Lastly, the failure of the Tenrikyo church to concede and put an end to evil practices that violate the prohibition against ritual prayers by Shinto and Buddhist sects, public standards of decency, or acceptable levels of donation—likewise must face disciplinary action.
Instructions issued as noted above
Meiji 29 (1896) April 6
Home Secretary Yoshikawa Akimasa 内務大臣芳川顕正
For more information on Tenrikyo’s history until 1907, see Tenrikyo: The Path to Joyousness by Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department (1998), pp. 56–65. ↩