Tag Archives: Umetani Shirobei

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 198

198. With Any Flower (donna hana demo na)

Once Yonosuke Shimizu, Shirobei Umetani, and Tora Hirano had gathered before Oyasama and were talking with each other about how their [confraternities] were not advancing as they had hoped. Oyasama said:

“With any flower, there are years when it blooms and there are years when it does not bloom. Even if it does not bloom one year, when the year changes it will bloom again.”

It is said that Oyasama comforted them in this way.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 155–156

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 184

184. A Way of Perceiving (satori-kata)

On February 6, 1886, Shirobei Umetani, while at the Residence, received a message from home that his second daughter Michie, who had been sick for some time, had died. When he was granted an audience with Oyasama, in the course of the conversation he mentioned this. Oyasama responded:

“How fortunate.”

Umetani, thinking Oyasama had misunderstood, repeated once more, “My child is dead.” Oyasama only said:

“Fortunately, it was not the elder one.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 145

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 159

159. The Residence: The Place for Single-Hearted Devotion to God (Kami-ichijō no yashiki)

One day, Shirobei Umetani, who had been sitting by Oyasama‘s side listening to the teachings of the path, unintentionally began to speak of worldly pleasures. “Right now,” he said, “there is a very popular play being presented at Dotombori and…,” Oyasama interrupted him here and admonished him:

“From the age of forty-one until today I have never spoken of anything worldly. God says there is no need in this Residence for any talk other than the talks of single-hearted devotion to God.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 128-129

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 126

126. As the Symbol of Worship for the Fraternity (Japanese title: Kōsha no medo ni)

In November 1883, the Resting House was completed. Oyasama moved in at midnight on November 25th (October 26th, lunar calendar). On the night of the twenty-sixth, Shirobei Umetani retired to a room in the building called Konikai after he put all the tools away. He was going to go back to Osaka on the twenty-seventh.

In a short while, Gisaburo Nakata came carrying a short scarlet crepe kimono-undergarment on a small offering stand and said, “Thank you very much for your recent contribution of labor. Oyasama said, ‘This shall be the symbol of worship for the Meishin-gumi Fraternity,’ so receive it gratefully.”

Soon afterward, Risaburo Yamamoto came, holding a red garment reverently, saying, “Oyasama said, ‘Though this is one of My used garments, please make it over for your children.”‘ Yamamoto then gave the unlined silk-crepe garment to Shirobei. Shirobei, so delighted and thankful for the two presents, reached for them, only to find himself awakening from a dream.

After this, he was unable to fall back to sleep. When daybreak came, he began to get ready for the journey and after finishing breakfast, he took a rest. Then Nakata came to him, holding a red kimono-undergarment reverently, and saying, “Oyasama said, ‘This shall be the symbol of worship of the Meishin-gumi Fraternity.”‘ This message was exactly the same as that of the one in his dream. He thankfully received it, wondering whether it was still a dream. Shortly later, Yamamoto came into the room and repeated the other message in Shirobei’s dream of the night before: “Oyasama said, ‘This is My used garment, but give it to your children.’ “And Yamamoto placed the unlined red silk-crepe garment before Shirobei, who received it gratefully. Again, soon afterward, Hisa Kajimoto brought to him a set of two big rice cakes, each made of seven kilograms of rice, with a red rice cake placed on top of a white one. She said, “Oyasama said, ‘Give these to your children.’ “

Oyasama’s repeated expressions of warm parental love were imprinted in the deepest reaches of Shirobei’s heart. Furthermore, when he recalled his dream of the night before, he was strongly moved by the marvelous workings of God the Parent.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 103-104

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 123

123. Is Man the Object? (Japanese title: Hito ga medo ka)

Oyasama told Shirobei Umetani soon after he became a believer in the faith:

“Become a person with a gentle heart. Save other people. Change your habits and temperament.”

He was hot-tempered by nature.

Shirobei was working at the Residence, plastering the wall of Oyasama’s Resting House which was under construction in 1883. When he heard people maliciously gossiping that “the mason from Osaka, who cannot get work there, has had to come as far as Yamato for work,” he became very indignant. In the middle of the night, he quietly gathered his belongings and started to return to Osaka.

Walking on tiptoes, he was about to leave through the main gate when he heard Oyasama cough from her room in the Nakaminami-Gatehouse.

“Ah! Oyasama!” he thought; his feet stopped and his anger disappeared.

Next morning, while he was having breakfast with the rest of the people at the Residence, Oyasama appeared and said:

“Shirobei, is man the object? Or is God the object? Remember that God is the object.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 101-102

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 117

117. With His Father and Mother (Japanese title: chichi haha ni tsurerarete)

Shirobei Umetani returned to the Residence with his five or six-year-old son, Umejiro, in 1882 or 1883. When they were received by Oyasama, who was wearing Her red garments, Umejiro said, “Daruma-san, Daruma-san.” He must have recalled the red-clad daruma doll in the well-known advertisement for tobacco of that period. Shirobei was so embarrassed that he did not take Umejiro along the next time he returned to the Residence. Then Oyasama asked:


“What happened to Umejiro? The path will be cut off.”


After Shirobei received these words, Umejiro always returned happily to the Residence with his father and mother.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 97

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 106

106. Symbolic Serving

Oyasama was confined in Nara Prison for twelve days starting from October 29, 1882. While Oyasama was in prison, Shirobei Umetani stayed at the Residence. Every day during the twelve days, he got up before dawn and walked some eleven kilometers to Nara Prison with Shinnosuke, the first Shimbashira, and other seniors to bring things to Oyasama. About the time they arrived at Nara, the sky would begin to turn gray. It would be about nine o’clock when they returned to the Residence after delivering the things.

One day, the party of three were attempting to pass the gate of the jail without greeting the gatekeepers. They were stopped and threatened that they would not be allowed to go home because they had not greeted the gatekeepers. The three persons apologized and knelt down with their hands in the muddy ground, after which they were allowed to go.

At the Residence, visitors were harassed by police officers on guard at the entrance. In addition, different officers would come to investigate as often as three times during a night, so that people in the Residence could sleep for only two hours or so each night.

On November 9th, Oyasama was met by numerous persons when She returned to the Residence. She called Umetani to Her and said:

“Shirobei, thank you very much for your trouble. I did not feel hungry at all, thank you.”

In the prison they could only deliver things for Oyasama and were not allowed to see Her. No one could have told Her that it was Shirobei who had delivered the things. Therefore, Umetani wondered how She knew that it was he.

While Oyasama was in prison, Shirobei’s wife, Tane, in Osaka also prepared meals for Oyasama and served Her symbolically every day, calling to mind Oyasama’s hardship.

It was on the next day, the tenth, and thereafter that Shirobei was allowed to make personal inquiries of Oyasama without an intermediary.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 89–90 Continue reading Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 106

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 92

92. Husband and Wife Together

Shirobei Umetani was received by Oyasama one day soon after his conversion to the faith. Oyasama told him:

“Husband and wife together, have faith in God.”

As soon as he got home, he said to his wife, Tane, “Since I have just been taught that it is not good if only one of us follows this path, you and I must both follow the path together.” Whereupon Tane obediently agreed. So just as he was taught by the seniors, Shirobei and Tane filled a rice bowl with water, faced the Jiba, chanted, “NamuTenri-Ō-no-Mikoto,” three times, and each drank half of the water as a token of their vow that as husband and wife they would always be together in their faith.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 77–78

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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 22

The following is a translation of Part 22 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the October 2004 (No. 430) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Part 22: Oyasama as “Daruma”

One day, in the year 1884, Shirobei Umetani brought his third son Umejiro with him to worship at the Residence. Umejiro was seven or eight years old at the time. Umejiro was like his father Shirobei in his youth, a rascally and energetic child who knew no fear and said exactly what was on his mind.

Continue reading The Footsteps of Our Predecessors 22