Tag Archives: Shinmei-gumi

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 165

165. Buy Dearly (takō kōte)

Zenzo Miyata was so moved by a talk at the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity] that he became a follower in the summer of 1885. Led by Seijiro Imagawa, he returned to Jiba soon thereafter and was received by Oyasama. Zenzo was then thirty-one years old, and running a hosiery shop at Shiomachi Street in Semba, Osaka.

Oyasama taught him with painstaking care. However, in the beginning, since Zenzo was a newcomer who had not experienced a marvelous cure himself, he listened to the teachings very casually while smoking his pipe. Then, without realizing it, he had put down his pipe and had slid forward into a deep bow. Among the words being spoken at that moment, he retained only the following:

“Merchants should buy dearly and sell cheaply.”

Zenzo could not understand its meaning at all. He thought, “If I should do business in such a manner, it would cost me my livelihood. She may be well informed on farming, but She knows little about business.” So saying to himself, he went home.

Later, when Zenzo entered his house after leaving Imagawa, his neighbor, he was struck with a sudden attack of vomiting and diarrhea. A doctor was sent for immediately but he was unable to remedy the situation. Umejiro Izutsu, head of the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity], was asked to come by Imagawa. Sitting by at Zenzo’s bedside, Izutsu asked him, “Didn’t you complain of something on your first return to Jiba?” Zenzo then replied that he could not agree with what Oyasama had told him. Then Izutsu explained, “What God means is that the ideal of business is to buy dearly in order to please wholesale dealers, sell cheaply in order to please customers, and to be satisfied with a small profit.” Upon hearing this, Zenzo could fully understand the meaning of Oyasama’s words. He deeply apologized for harboring dissatisfaction in his mind and soon was marvelously cured.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 132

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 115

115. Devote Yourself Single-Heartedly to Saving Others (Japanese title: o-tasuke o hitosuji ni)

Zenkichi Tachibana, who became an official of the Shimmei-gumi Fraternity, began to believe after he was healed of cataracts in April or May 1880, and soon afterward his father was healed of lumbago. For several years after this, he was busily engaged in efforts to save others. Strangely enough, he was very healthy as long as he was doing missionary work, but whenever he stayed at home, he did not feel well. One day, he asked Oyasama about this. Then Oyasama taught him:

“From now on you are to devote yourself single-heartedly to saving others. Do not be concerned about things of the world. You need not know such things. The path is endurance and hardships.”

Zenkichi held on to these words as tightly as to life itself, not forgetting for an instant; and he became more and more single-heartedly devoted to saving others.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 96

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 108

108.  The Roads to the Summit Are Many

Seijiro Imagawa had been suffering from a stomach ailment for many years. He was an ardent follower of the Hokke sect. He invited Buddhist priests to his home to pray for him and he himself also prayed all the time. Although others were saved by this, his own stomach ailment did not get any better. One day, the wife of a neighborhood bamboo dealer said to him, “Since you are devoted to Hokke you might not listen but there exists a wonderful god.” He replied, “I will listen to the talk once to learn what is taught.” Thus, it was arranged for him to listen to the teachings of the path. He then received the marvelous divine blessing through the three days and three nights of prayers, and recovered completely from the stomach ailment which had bothered him for thirty years. This was about 1882.

Thereafter, he completely ceased going to the Buddhist temple, and resolved to follow the path single-heartedly. He returned to Jiba and when he had an audience with Oyasama, he received these wonderful words:

“Do you know Mt. Fuji? Its summit is one, but the roads to the summit are many. Whichever road you take, it is the same.”

He was deeply moved by Her warm parental love.

Then, Oyasama asked:

“Did you come from Osaka?”

and, continuing, said:

“I understand Osaka has many fires. Even if a fire should get close, in some cases it will burn only so far and then it will stop moving any closer. The reason it stops is because the direction of the wind changes. Because the wind changes direction, a fire stops from coming.”

She explained with the gesture of drawing a line with Her finger.

Later, on September 5, 1890, at the time of the great Shimmachi Fire in Osaka, the fire burned furiously toward the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity] at Itachibori. Everyone, beginning with Izutsu, the head of the [confraternity], performed the Prayer Service in earnest. Then, just as the wooden fence in the back edge of the lot was burned down, the direction of the wind changed and the whole area of the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity] remained untouched. Seijiro, with deep emotion, recalled the words of Oyasama.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 91–93

Translation of “Sawa’s note”

“[Imagawa Seijiro was] a member of the Shinmei-gumi Confraternity. He was the first minister of Totsu Bunkyokai, affiliate of Ashitsu Daikyokai.”

My research / take

It ought be mentioned that the “Hokke” or Lotus sect must refer to one of the several Nichiren Buddhist branches that existed at the time. I also imagine that the priests most likely recited the Lotus Sutra on Imagawa’s behalf when they prayed for his recovery and that Imagawa himself likely chanted the daimoku.

Regarding the quote attributed to Oyasama (“Do you know Mt. Fuji? Its summit is one, but the roads to the summit are many. Whichever road you take, it is the same.”), one can almost imagine Imagawa “was deeply moved by Her parental love” because Nichiren Buddhism had a historical tendency to be highly sectarian1, insisting its practice was the only one that mattered, and its priests would most surely have been miffed when Imagawa converted to the faith Oyasama expounded.

When preparing for this post, I serendipitously came across The Religions of Man from Huston Smith, professor of religion and philosophy, who, in writing on Hinduism, illustrates a religious sentiment not unlike what Oyasama expressed in Anecdotes 108. I give a rather lengthy citation (from a section that happens to be entitled “Many Paths to the Same Summit”):

That Hinduism has shared her land for centuries with Parsees, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians may help explain a last idea that comes out more clearly through her than through any other leading contemporary religion; namely, her conviction that the various major religions are alternate and relatively equal paths to the same God. To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion is like claiming that God can be found in this room but not the next, in this attire but not another. Normally each individual will take the path which leads up life’s mountain from his own culture; those who circle the mountain trying to bring others around to their paths are not climbing. In practice India’s sects have often been fanatically intolerant, but in principle they have remained notably open. The Vedas early announce Hinduism’s classic contention: the various religions are but the different languages through which God has spoken to the human heart. “Truth is one; sages call it by different names.”

It is possible to climb life’s mountain from any side, but when the top is reached the pathways merge. As long as religions remain in the foothills of theology, ritual, or church organization they may be far apart. Differences in culture, history, geography, and group temperament all make for different starting points. Far from being deplorable, this is good; it adds richness to the totality of man’s religious venture.2

It may also be worthy of note that while Oyasama is described revealing a sympathetic view of other faiths, statements attributed to her in Anecdotes 10 subtly hints Jiba is superior to other places of worship.

As for the summit of Mt. Fuji, Akio Inoue sensei has written that it symbolizes the realm of spiritual insight (satori) where the Joyous Life will come into view. He writes, “It is said that once one begins to see the image of Mt. Fuji as a full representation of the concept ‘if one saves others, one shall be saved,’ one will understand there are several roads that lead there.”3

Anecdotes 108 also seems to imply that Oyasama foretold the fire of 1890 and that the Shinmei-gumi Confraternity would be spared, functioning as another feather to her cap (holy reputation).


  • Inoue Akio. 2006. “Shinkō to michi: ‘108 Noboru michi wa iku-suji mo’.” In Itsuwa-hen ni manabu iki-kata 2. Tenri: Tenri Daigaku Oyasato Kenkyūsho, pp. 177-207.
  • Nichiren Shōnin. 2003. Writings of Nichiren Shōnin: Doctrine 1, translated by Hori, Kyōtsū and edited by Sakashita, Jay. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Smith, Huston. 1958. The Religions of Man. New York: Harper Colophon Books.


  1. The sectarian character of this Buddhist school that emerged in Japan stems from the fact that Nichiren, the monk who founded the sect that bears his name, was highly critical of other Buddhist sects.

    Nichiren had proclaimed that “Shingon Buddhism is the evil dharma that destroys the country, the nembutsu is the teaching that leads people into the Hell of Incessant Suffering, Zen is the teaching of heavenly demons, and Ritsu priests are national traitors (Writings of Nichiren Shōnin, p. 273).” He also referred to Pure Land, Shingon, and Zen as “the three calamities” (ibid, p. 219), “derogatorily calls such masters as Kukai, Ennin, Enchin, Annen, Genshin and Honen parasitic worms in one’s bosom” (p. 187) and that the convention of assigning priests from many of the established Buddhist schools to protect the nation was “as useless as feeding coarse food to elderly persons and hard rice to children” (p. 259).

  2. Smith, p. 76.
  3. Inoue, p. 184.

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 82

82. Yoisho!*

In 1881, the stones for the Kanrodai were being brought from Takimoto Village just east of Jiba. Umejiro Izutsu of the Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity] was instructed to haul the stones down a mountain, and Shirobei Umetani of the Meishin-gumi [Confraternity] was to haul them from the base of the mountain to the Residence. Tokichi Ueda and more than ten other men from the Hyogo Shimmei-gumi [Confraternity], who happened to be at the Residence just at that time, joined Shirobei’s group to haul the stones between Furu and the Residence.

The stones were being carried on nine carts. One of them got stuck at the gate of the Residence. At that very moment, Oyasama appeared from Her room and shouted:


Upon hearing Her voice, everyone pushed together with all their might and the cart rolled in easily. All were deeply moved by the solemn and inspiring presence of Oyasama.



Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 69.

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The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 45

The following is a translation of Part 45 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the September 2006 (No. 453) issue of Taimo , pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 45: Indigo Ball

In 1879, Bunkichi Nakagawa, who made his living as a dyer in the Honden section of Osaka, succumbed to a sudden illness of the eyes that left him nearly blind. As Bunkichi’s dyeing business was flourishing, he spared no expense on doctors and medicine. He also prayed to the gods and buddhas at various shrines and temples for a full recovery, but there was no sign of any improvement. His illness grew worse and his doctor declared his case as hopeless, saying, “There’s no chance for a full recovery.”

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The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 26

The following is a translation of Part 26 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the February 2005 (No. 434) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 26: Like Sliding On Water

In 1879, Umejiro Izutsu, a cotton salesman from Honden 本田, Osaka, converted from Omine Shugendo to become a fervent devotee of the path when his newborn daughter Tane was blessed with a recovery from illness. Oyasama bestowed his confraternity with the name “Shinmei-gumi” and many followers would gather at the confraternity assembly hall located in Honden.

Between 30 to 50 followers would gather every night to worship and dance the Twelve Songs. Their devotion was so great that the tatami mats wore out and needed to be replaced in three months.

Continue reading The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 26