Tag Archives: conversion story

Cornerstone: Chapter 3-2

The following is a translation of an excerpt from Ishizue: Kashihara Genjiro no shinko to shogai (Cornerstone: The Faith and Life of Genjiro Kashihara) by Teruo Nishiyama. Note: This translation is a provisional one and may need to undergo further revision.

The Beginning of Myodo Auxiliary Church

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Cornerstone: Chapter 1-2

The following is a translation of an excerpt from Ishizue: Kashihara Genjiro no shinko to shogai (Cornerstone: The Faith and Life of Genjiro Kashihara) by Teruo Nishiyama. Note: This translation is a provisional one and may need to undergo further revision.

How Genjiro Embraced the Faith

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 166

166. A Mark on the Body (mijō ni shirushi o)

In October of 1885, eight-year-old Naramume, daughter of Ujiro Tanioka of Chishawara Village, about four kilometers due east of Jiba, went to pick chestnuts and sprained her ankle when she jumped from a tree. This led to an attack of rheumatism which was so painful that she kept crying for three days and three nights.

She received a doctor’s care, and incantations were made at a nearby place. However, the pain did not ease at all; on the contrary, it became more severe.

Then, the teachings of God the Parent were told to Ujiro by Omitsu Matsuura of the same village. Omitsu instructed Ujiro to offer a sacred light by burning rapeseed oil in a small dish, and to face toward Jiba and pray, “Please stop the pain before this light burns out.” Without a moment’s delay, he offered the sacred light and firmly resolving, “If she is saved, I will follow the path and transmit the path to my future generations,” he prayed fervently. His daughter, who had been crying uncontrollably from the agonizing pain in her arms and legs, instantly received a divine blessing and was healed.

The parents were so happy with this blessing that they decided to pay a visit to thank God. Thus, Ujiro, carrying his daughter Naramume on his back, returned to the Residence for the first time. Ujiro was received by Oyasama through the arrangement of Chusaku Tsuji. Ujiro thanked Her for saving his daughter.

Soon afterward, Ujiro fell ill with tuberculosis and lost so much weight that he was a pitiful sight to see. So he returned to the Residence and was granted an audience with Oyasama. Her words were:

“By putting a mark on your body, I have drawn you here.”

He was instructed to change his clothes and come back again without delay. The next day, when he changed his clothes and returned, Oyasama bestowed on him the truth of the sazuke.

His tuberculosis, which had been thought to be incurable, was soon cured. Deeply moved, Ujiro thereafter walked here and there among the houses in the mountain village to save others. By and by, while Oyasama was still physically present, he left Chishawara Village and moved to the Residence, where he did farm work.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 133–134

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 146

146. Thank You for Your Work (go-kuro-san)

In the spring of 1884, twenty-three-year-old Tokijiro Saji enlisted in the army and was in the Third Company, First Battalion of the Ninth Regiment stationed in Osaka. During that time his company marched to Yamato Province and was quartered at the Masuya Inn in the Imamikado section of Nara City.

At that time, many people were going in and out of the detached room of the inn. The inn master pointed to Oyasama, who was wearing Her red garments, and said, “That person is the living god of Shoyashiki.” And Tokijiro heard the teachings of the path from him.

Shortly thereafter, when Oyasama passed near where Tokijiro was standing, he was deeply moved by Her presence, and politely bowed his head. Oyasama quietly acknowledged this and spoke to him:

“Thank you for your work.”

The instant Saji saw Oyasama, he was awestruck with reverence at Her divine nature. The moment he heard Her voice, he was touched by a feeling of intimacy and great yearning to follow after Her.

In later years, Saji always told people about his experience, “I decided at that moment to follow the path. The reason why I, who had no mental or physical problems, came to believe in this path was entirely due to the deep impression which I received at that time.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 118-119

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 145

145. Always in a Comfortable Place to Live (itsumo sumi-yoi tokoro e)

Shobei Masuno’s wife, Ito, visited her intimate friend, Cho, daughter of Yazaemon Koyama of Sannomiya in Kobe, in February 1884. She received the teachings through Cho, who taught her, “Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto is truly the all-powerful God of wonders.”

Ito had been suffering for three years from an eye disease. Several famous doctors had treated her, but they could not help her. All she could do was to resign herself to the fact that she was destined to be blind. Shobei also had been afflicted with beriberi for many years and medical treatment did not help him at all, so he too was always in a gloomy mood.

The couple decided to try and listen to the teachings of God the Parent. A messenger was sent to Koyama immediately to ask him to teach them. Thus they heard the teachings for the first time on February 15th. They had an altar built at once and God was enshrined. The couple listened together to the talk: “Illness of the body is a manifestation of the eight dusts. By repentance, one’s illness will be cured without fail. Become of a sincere mind and rely on God.” Also, it was said that, “Foods are all gifts of God; there is not a single one that will poison you.” At these words, Shobei, who had quit drinking sake because of his illness, tried drinking the sake which had been offered to God on that day. The next day, he felt invigorated. Similarly, after just one night, Ito’s sight had improved to the point where she could distinguish between black and white.

Together the couple offered their thanks to God. They also went to Koyama’s home to share their joy with him. But when they returned home, Ito was again almost blind even before nightfall.

The couple discussed the matter together. “We were blessed with God’s providence in just one night. God will surely save us if we make a firm resolution to unite our hearts and serve God for the rest of our lives,” they concluded. So the couple united their hearts and prayed for God’s blessing, zealously performing the morning and evening services. Shobei recovered in fifteen days and Ito received God’s blessing in thirty days. Her eye disease was cured and she was able to see.

With joyful hearts, they returned to Jiba for the first time on April 6th. Oyasama was to leave Nara Prison and return home that day. The couple went to Nara to greet Her and accompany Her home. They stayed till the ninth. Oyasama spoke to Shobei gently:

“Shobei, thank you for coming. You were destined to come to the Residence sooner or later.”

He was so deeply moved by these words that he devoted himself to spreading the fragrance of the teachings of God and saving others, traveling back and forth between Kobe and Jiba and neglecting his business. But whenever he was away from Jiba his health was not as good as usual, so he asked Oyasama for instructions. She told him:

“You should always live in a place that is always comfortable.”

Upon receiving these words, Shobei made a firm resolution to live at the Residence.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 117-118

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 95

95. The Path of Eight Hundred Kilometers 

Chuzaburo Koda of Kawahigashi Village in Yamato Province was employed at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Niigata Prefecture. When he went home on vacation late in 1881, he found that the condition of his second daughter, Riki, who had been suffering from an eye disease for two or three years, had become worse. Although medical attention was given, it was said that it was only a matter of time before she would lose her sight.

The new year, 1882, arrived with the whole family being deeply concerned. Early in the year, they were about to decide that they should offer prayers at one of the most famous temples of the country, the Kanzeon at Mount Otowa in Yamato Province. Yosaburo Miyamori of the same village heard of their plan and visited the Koda family. Miyamori had already been a follower in the faith for several years. The family had him offer prayers for Riki at once. The next morning she was able dimly to see her fingers and cookies as well.

As a result, they gave up the idea of going to Mount Otowa, and instead, the parents and Riki returned to the Residence on March 5th. They stayed there for seven days. On the third day, Chuzaburo’s wife, Saki, offered this prayer: “I will offer one of my eyes as a sacrifice, so please save at least one of the eyes of my daughter.” From that night on, Saki gradually lost the sight of one eye. In exchange, Riki gradually regained the sight in one of her own eyes, until it was fully recovered. Chuzaburo was so moved by this wondrous blessing that for the first time he made a firm resolution to have faith in God.

He submitted his resignation to the prefecture because he wished to serve God at the Residence, and because travel between Niigata and the Residence took sixteen days. However, the prefecture refused his resignation and ordered his return. At a complete loss, Chuzaburo asked Oyasama, “What should I do?” She told him:

“There is a bridge of the path which is eight hundred kilometers long, and there is no one but you to cross that bridge.”

Koda was filled with emotion by these words. He made a firm resolution from the depths of his heart to spread the fragrance of the teachings and to save others. He departed on March 17th. Thus, he took the first step of mission work in Niigata Prefecture.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 79–80.

Translation of “Sawa’s note”

“Roughly in the area west of JR Yanagimoto Station in Higaki-cho, Tenri.”

Insight from Yomei Mori sensei

In a pithy article of just six and a half pages, Yomei Mori sensei from the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion offers much insight regarding this particular selection from Anecdotes, which I will try my best to paraphrase at length here. The main focus is on three key expressions:

  1. ni-hyaku ri” (200 ri or 800 kilometers)
  2. hashi” (bridge)
  3. shinjin” (faith)

200 ri

In discussing the expression 200 ri, while the wondrous blessings his daughter received for her eye condition motivated Chuzaburo Koda to make a “firm resolution to have faith.” The government must have placed great trust in Chuzaburo and his technical expertise to have refused his resignation and demanded for his return.

Chuzaburo, who wished to devote himself exclusively for the path, was caught between carrying out this wish and meeting his worldly responsibilities. Torn, he approached Oyasama for advice and she told him, “There is a bridge of the path which is 200 ri long, and there is no one but you to cross that bridge.”

Mori sensei then speculates that Oyasama’s words here are suggesting that exclusive devotion to the path is not at all incompatible with working in society if one’s heart is in the right place. He then goes on to explain that such a sentiment is embodied in the expression “sato no sennin” or “hermit/sage of the village.” Although hermit/sage is usually associated with a person who secludes oneself from society to free oneself from distractions and practice physical austerities, the phrase “sato no sennin” embodies the ideal in Tenrikyo for adherents to remain in a community and do their best not to be swept away by prevailing social currents.

Mori sensei also suggests that the expression 200 ri symbolically refers to Tenrikyo’s overseas mission of today. There are a variety of ways in which adherents are building bridges in overseas communities, beginning with cultural activities such as judo and instruction of Japanese language to providing medical or financial assistance.


On to the theme of “bridge.” In Niigata Daikyokai monogatari, Oyasama is quoted as saying to Chuzaburo Koda: “I have put in front of you a bridge spanning 200 ri. I put it there with the hope that you would cross it. If you do not cross it, it would mean I placed the bridge for nothing.”

Mori sensei goes on to write that the bridge Oyasama is referring to is obviously not a real bridge but a metaphor for the connection between Jiba and another place (Niigata in Chuzaburo’s specific case). To be connected with Jiba means to be constantly mindful of the original intention that led God to create human beings and the creation process itself. An adherent can outwardly express this connection to Jiba and show one’s appreciation for God’s daily blessings with a “return” or pilgrimage to Jiba.

He then goes on to note:

Even today, when many people return from all over the globe to make a pilgrimage to Jiba, it is a fact that some cannot return even they wish to. There are differing reasons for this. One must enter Japan, one of the world’s biggest economic powerhouses in order to return to Jiba. Financial factors especially loom large for followers from developing countries. It is downright ironic that the homeland of humanity is located in a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world.1

The notion that a person cannot return to Jiba without God’s blessing has been expressed in Scripture.2

Further, there are Timely Talks that warn adherents of the rotting of the spirit, becoming swept away by social currents, and losing sight of the original Parent, which will cause one’s bridge to rot or be swept away.3

Mori sensei then mentions that although Chuzaburo never steps foot in Niigata again after he returned to Jiba to serve at the Residence4, the people who he led to have faith in the path continued to support the “bridge” that had been put into place and made efforts to establish Niigata Daikyokai.


The word “shinjin” (faith) makes several other appearances in instructions attributed to Oyasama in Anecdotes. Some representative selections in addition to selection 95 include:

Mori sensei writes that these instructions describe a faith that anyone can practice at anytime on a daily basis in any day and age. Such a faith has much in common with the notion of the “hermit/sage in the village” alluded above.

Finally, Mori sensei offers his commentary on a number of verses from The Songs for the Service that include the word “shinjin” (rendered in the official translation as “believe(d)”). He suggests the sequence of its appearances represent different stages of how faith should develop.

  1. Although one believed until now, one did not know that Tenri-O-no-Mikoto was the Creator (Moto no Kami) and not merely a common deity who could be petitioned to with prayers or ritual incantations for personal benefit (paraphrase of Song Three, verse 9).
  2. If one continues one’s faith, one will be blessed with a life that is at the apex of joy (paraphrase of Song Five, verse 5).
  3. If one is resolved to continue one’s faith in any situation, unite one’s minds with companions of the faith and form a “brotherhood” or religious organization (paraphrase of Song Five, verse 10). This demonstrates that faith in the path is not merely an individual matter, but ought to be conveyed to others and embarked on together. Faith that is open to anyone now must become faith that can be shared with anyone.
  4. Even if one has had faith for many years, a usage of the mind that goes against God’s intention will not do (paraphrase of Song Six, verse 7).
  5. Even so, one must continue one’s faith. But if one’s mindset is not corrected upon self-examination, one will have to start from the very beginning or in some cases return the body (paraphrase of Song Six, verse 8).
  6. When one lives in accordance with the teachings and embarks on the path exclusively devoted to performing the Service and saving others, the result one’s efforts must appear (paraphrase of Song Six, verse 9). While a person’s faith is not something that is readily visible, as one continues it, a group dedicated to the faith naturally forms and one’s efforts must manifest itself in visible form as “effectiveness.” When one boldly crosses a bridge placed by God, people at the other end will begin to believe in the original Parent, forming a group of believers and a road that connects to Jiba.

My take / research

My intuition leads to me to assume that “Kanzeon at Mount Otowa” refers to Kannon-ji, but I can’t be completely sure.

Oyasama is also described using the metaphor of a bridge in Anecdotes 33, saying to Risaburo Yamamoto as follows: “You shall be saved for sure if you decide to dedicate your whole life to serve this Residence. The bridge between countries; a rough log bridge. Without a bridge, a river cannot be crossed. Will you dedicate your life or not? Arakitoryo, arakitoryo!

The word “arakitoryo” or “(rough) wood master” implies that Risaburo was asked to become the master to find and hone the rough pieces of timber (i.e., missionaries) that can be fashioned into bridges. While Risaburo made some missionary efforts himself (as described in this story), it appears that he devoted most of his time at the Residence as an “intermediary,” and instructed Oyasama’s teachings to returning followers. In this sense, his role was not different from that of Chuzaburo Koda’s.

If I were to compare my own faith with that of a bridge, it would admittedly be short and rotten, not unlike the one in the picture below:


Image source: pbase.com


  • Mori Yōmei. 2006. “Michi no ni-hyaku ri mo.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 2. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 75–81.
  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. 1976. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Tenri: Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.
  • Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2006. “Oyasama: Kekkō to omōte sure ba, Ten ni todoku ri.” Taimō 449 (May 2006), pp. 16–17.

Further reading (On Koda Chuzaburo)


  1. In no way does Mori elaborate why he finds this so ironic. It is because one of the first things Oyasama did after becoming the “Shrine of God” was to “fall to the depths of poverty”?
  2. In Divine Directions dated April 23, 1887:

    This Residence is the Four-fronted Mirror Residence. Even if you wish to come here, you may not be able to come. I shall not tell those who have come here to go away, nor shall I tell those who do not wish to come here to come.

    An Anthology of Osashizu Translations, p. 37.

  3. Here are passages from the Osashizu that were not available in English until now (or at least as far as I’m aware). My translations:

    Although a bridge may appear strong, it will be swept away in a flood. There have been times when they have been swept away. It will surely happen again.

    March 23, 1896

    Even if you have a bridge, can you cross that bridge if it has rotted?

    October 31, 1900

  4. According to supplemental information from Taimo, Chuzaburo Koda took over overseeing the Nakayama household after Ryojiro Yamazawa passed away on June 19, 1883.

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 88

88. From a Dangerous Place

The events of this story took place in late autumn of 1881. Unosuke Tosa was saved from near shipwreck close to Okushiri Island off Hokkaido. His ship docked at the port of Osaka, and on the same day he returned to Jiba to offer his thanks to God. He worshiped before the Kanrodai, offered his thanks to God the Parent, and vowed to carry out his firm resolution in the future.

He was so happy that he told the seniors at the Residence in detail the story of his having been saved. One of those who was listening, interrupted and asked whether that event had occurred at a certain time on a certain day in a certain month. When Unosuke calculated the date of his salvation, he realized it was exactly the same day. According to the senior, “Oyasama opened the sliding door and stood for a while facing north, waving an open Service fan, calling to someone to come,

‘Ho there! Ho there!’

I thought it was very strange. Now that I have heard your story, I understand what She was doing.” At this, Tosa was so touched with emotion that he could not contain himself. He made his appearance before Oyasama and, bowing deeply before Her, offered his gratitude, “Thank you for saving my life.” His voice trembled, and his eyes were so filled with tears that he could not clearly see Oyasama’s face. Oyasama spoke to him in a gentle voice and comforted him, saying:

“I brought you home from a dangerous place.”

Tosa then and there decided to leave his lifelong work as a seaman and made a firm resolution to dedicate his life to the single-hearted salvation of others.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 74–75.

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 72

72. Destined to Be Saved

From around April 1880, Kosaburo Murakami of Izumi Province, in the prime of his manhood, began to lose the use of his hands and feet due to sciatica. The pain was so severe that he completely lost his appetite. He went to see doctors and sought as many various kinds of medical treatment as possible but he found no effective cure. His whole family, as well as he himself, lived from day to day in deep depression, feeling as if they had fallen into an abyss of misery.

Out of his ardent desire to be cured, Kosaburo went to Jinnan Village near Tatsuta, as he had heard that a noted herb doctor lived there, but was disappointed because the doctor was not home. At that moment he remembered his servants and the route merchants often speaking of the living god of Shoyashiki and so he decided to return to Shoyashiki Village since he had come thus far.

Thus he returned and was warmly received by Oyasama, who said:

“You will be saved, will be saved. You are destined to be saved.”

Oyasama further told him the teachings which he had never heard before. Then, at the time of his departure, he received three sweet bean dumplings placed on a sheet of paper, and some sacred water. Kosaburo, refreshed with the feeling that his body and mind were cleansed, left for home.

Although he had ridden in a rickshaw over a long distance, he was not tired at all when he reached home; on the contrary, he felt delighted. Then praying, “Namu, Tenri-Ō-no-MikotoNamu, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,” he rubbed the water he had received from Oyasama on his aching hip. As if in a dream, the pain disappeared on the third day.

For the next half a year, each time he returned to Jiba his condition improved a little more, and in January of the following year, 1881, he held a celebration for his recovery. Kosaburo was forty-two years old. Feelings of gratitude naturally made his feet turn toward Jiba.

Returning to Jiba, Kosaburo immediately asked Oyasama how to repay Her for the favor. Oyasama replied:

“It is neither money nor material things. If you are happy because you have been saved, then with that joy go out to save people who are praying to be saved. That is the best way to repay the favor. Strive courageously for the salvation of others.”

Kosaburo firmly pledged to strive for the path of single-hearted salvation of others by following Oyasama’s words.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 62–63

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 71

71. In Such a Heavy Rain

On April 14, 1880, Umejiro Izutsu and his wife, accompanied by their daughter Tane, returned to Jiba for the first time. It had been raining hard when they left Osaka the previous morning but the weather cleared up toward noon. They stayed overnight on the way and arrived at the Residence around four o’clock in the afternoon on the following day. They were granted an audience at once by Oyasama, who patted Tane on the head, saying:

“It is very good of you to have come in such a heavy rain.”

Oyasama added:

“You’re from Osaka, aren’t you? You are drawn here by the marvelous God. God is letting the roots of a great tree take firm hold in Osaka. You need not worry about the child’s illness.”

Afterward She placed a sheet of sacred paper on the affected area of Tane’s body which had not yet been completely cured. Needless to say, she was very soon completely cured.

The deep emotion which Umejiro felt when he met Oyasama and the marvelous cure kindled in him a passion for the faith and inspired him to spread the teachings and save others with single-hearted devotion.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 61–62

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