Q: I happened to live at a local Tenrikyo kyokai while on a study abroad program in Japan (or what’s called “home stay”). I was always curious about what was going on during the daily services: Why clap four times during prayer? Isn’t four a bad luck number in Japan? What is going on when they are bowing their heads down? What do the words and gestures of the daily services mean? Is there any significance behind why the first song is repeated 21 times, the second one done just once, and the third one is repeated in three sets of three?
submitted by Freshly Made Friends (real name withheld)
A: Hey Freshly, you’re asking at least five different questions there! You only get to ask just one…. Maybe two at most!
I’m kidding. Your questions are somewhat correlated, so I’ll be more than happy to answer them. But I will start by explaining how kyokai sanctuaries are set up for those of you out there who’ve never been in one before.