Volume 8: The Roar of Angry Waves
Chapter 8: The Outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War
In January 1904 (Meiji era 37), Nao Deguchi had just entered her sixty-ninth year. Onisaburo was thirty-four and Sumi twenty-two.
The young men of the Ryumon-kan (meaning the building of the Dragon's gate in Japanese) rose from their beds at four o'clock in the morning and went towards the Yura River. A blizzard was bringing cold winds and heavy snow from Mt. Oe. The surface of the river was covered with flatting timber wood. They got rid of their cloths on a raft, which laid at its moorings, and soaked in the water amidst the timber wood while wiping the snow off the raft. The sixteen year old Mitsujiro Chikamatsu, who was a new face, had come from Kyoto and Gennosuke Fukumoto was guiding his ascetic practices. While they recited the sacred words to the gods in freezing water, they were becoming numb with the cold and felt that their hair was starting to freeze and was becoming stiff. Mitsujiro was the son of Masakichi Chikamatsu. He had come to Ayabe at the request of his parents. Fukumoto was a prodigal son who had begun to frequent the gay quarters since he was eighteen years old.
"Ayabe is a good place because you can meet geishas there." His parents told Fukumoto to entice him with sweet words. Fukumoto was being led by Zenkichi Tanaka. He had often tried to run away, feeling that he was no match for the severe discipline, but he could not move because he had suddenly developed a stiff neck. Although he had repeated his intend several times he had already been living in this place for a year or so and had become resigned to his condition. He thought that he would be able to tolerate the circumstances, after all.
After purifying themselves in the water of the Yura River and returning to the Ryumon-kan, they went up the narrow stairs and sat side by side, as if some force had pushed them in front of the altar. At that time the order of seats was strictly decided according to the rank and seniority. Twelve officers were located at the top of the rank and thirty-six believers were serving to the officers. Chikamatsu and Fukumoto calmly sat in the lowest seats.
Nao had already finished purifying herself with water and was sitting in front of the altar. They offered the sacred light and recited their prayers together. After praying to the gods, they reverently ate the small sacred rice cake which floated in the soup with greens.
They usually ate a waterish gruel, which was cooked by the believer assigned to the meal duties. The gruel was made of 4.5 liters of water and the equivalent of rice which made up a total volume of 9 liters. They slowly savored the soft rice cake in their mouth just as if they were reluctant to swallow it. At every new year cerebration they would tell again the anecdote according to which Takekichi Nakamura once had eaten up to thirty-six rice cakes in the hope of becoming as blessed as Miroku (3 and 6 means Miroku. Maitreya-bodhisattva according to its Japanese pronunciation). It was more important and significant for them that he had been offered thirty-six rice cakes rather than accounting for the volume of the cakes. At that time, they were living rather comfortably but, now they could not afford that anymore.
The wooden floor of the dining room was as bright as a mirror because the believers had been wiping it every morning and evening. Nao said, "Mr. Fukumoto, watch your step. First, wipe the place you touched with your hands, and then wipe the place under your eyes." The newcomers, Chikamatsu and Fukumoto could not figure out how to train their minds. After listening to suggestions from other believers such as "While wiping the floor, your minds will become as bright as the floor" they tried to achieve this while wiping the floor.
"Good luck! Snow is falling, and snow is the harbinger of a prosperous year." Saying so, the officers went outdoors, carrying snow shovels and bamboo brooms. They tirelessly continued shoveling the snow around the town of Ayabe. People, far from thanking them for their works, looked coldly upon them, even though they were walking on the streets, which had been cleaned by them.
The officers resolutely shouted, "Precisely in this year, we expect a great wish to be fulfilled. A war will break out between Japan and Russia. In the Fudesaki the prophecy is never different from reality, even by the width of a hair. Purify yourself."
After they finished cleaning up the rooms and the surroundings of the house, they went to the Yura River to fetch wood from the floating timber. Nao needed much paper to write the Fudesaki and to have it copied by the officers. They were in high spirits to greet the sacred year of the fulfillment of the great wish.
In the residence of the Ryumon-kan building Nao was writing sacred words in the Fudesaki. After breakfast, Sumi finished cleaning the table, and went to the sick room in which Kiyohei Kirimura was confined to his bed. The foul smell of the sick person hit her nose. It is very difficult for him to recover from illness because he is too old. Sumi liked this her gentle uncle.
Because of her late aunt who had died in the great flood of 1896, Sumi nursed him wholeheartedly. She made him drink the tea through a needle thin pipe, after boiling it, and carefully massaged his waist.
She listened to the lullaby which Onisaburo was singing in the corridor. Or, maybe, it was only a song chosen at random, while he was going to and fro, carrying his fretful child, Asano, on his back.
--From where did you come Asano-san? From the mountain which is higher than the sky, Mt. Misen; you came from there! Hushaby, hushaby, my dear. Where was the girlie's mother going? She was going to Ayabe, over the mountain, crossing the river and going beyond Ohara. What souvenir from Ayabe, did your mother offer you? A piece of the talisman which protects from all evils? An amulet worn next to the skin? Hushaby, hushaby, my dear.
It seemed that his lullaby had made Kiyohei fall asleep, because he soon began to snore loudly. Sumi went outdoors in the snowstorm to wash several things at the well. It was painful for her to wash things in a squatting posture, being six months pregnant. She was in a hurry to wash the things of the sick person and those of Asano.
Onisaburo came near Sumi and said, "Hey, my child got a sleep now." She answered without looking at him, "Yes, thanks, but I will ask you for a little more time." He whispered, "Well, I would like a boy." She had already thought that it was his wish, but, she only gave a slight nod to him, making no bones of his word. Sumi did not care if her second child was either a boy or a girl and would love either the same. But, if possible, and for her husband's sake, she was now wishing it to be a boy. She understood that her husband's request was, in fact, to satisfy his childish wish of humbling Nao who had said that Sumi would have a girl once again.
Onisaburo entered into his room, gathered some Japanese cushions and laid Asano to sleep on it, covering her with a short coat. Then he sat at his desk.
It was written in the Fudesaki that Onisaburo had become the guardian of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin. But, it seemed that he would fulfill his mission only in the Sacred World of Heaven (the celestial sphere). That was because he had not shown any sign of repentance in his daily life. He hated the practice of cold water ablutions, and was wanting in etiquette. On the contrary, he liked to get up late and he liked the Chinese character. In the eyes of the officers of the cult he was still only a vessel, in which the evil god Komatsubayashi-no-mikoto lived. Their interfering with him in everything was inconvenient for him to the uttermost degree. As life in this tricky atmosphere was unbearable, he attempted to set out on a journey of missionary work, but he was stopped by the officers, Keitaro Kinoshita, Ichitaro Ushirono, Fusanosuke Murakami, Fusataro Takehara and some others. They were seated in a row in front of him.
"President, if you go out and, at any cost, disseminate the doctrine of the evil god, which can conceivably be the animal soul, you must first kill us," said their leader, Keitaro Kinoshita, while exposing his abdomen and violently thrusting a kitchen knife on the tatami in front of him. They were all young and strong men, full of youthful vigor. That was no threat at all. In spite of this, Onisaburo surreptitiously persisted in his intend to go to the countryside and complete the mission he had set for himself. But, they clearly had detected his intentions and they dug up one and all the seeds, which he had sown with much trouble as hungry birds, would have done.
At this point, only two persons remained as his servants and instruments. They are Motokichi Nishida, his younger brother-in-law and Hana Asai, who was a woman in her fifties from the Kizaki district, in the town of Sonobe. Nishida and Asai had been visiting by turns the house of Shikazo Otsuki in Ayabe. They always started from Sonobe around noon in order to arrive at his house around midnight and thus elude any encounter with the officers.
At midnight, Onisaburo slipped furtively out of the church and visited the house of the Otsuki family, and preached the doctrine of the Omoto cult. In addition to that, he initiated that family into the secrets of the doctrine. That is, the doctrine which is written using only hiragana (the cursive kana character) and simple sentences, in order to make it easily understandable even for people with little learning.
Nishida and Asai, left Ayabe before dawn and went to Sonobe. After finding lodgment in Sonobe, they parted, and secretly visited still unexplored areas for their missionary work; as such, they went from place to place in Funai and Kita-Kuwata counties instead of Onisaburo. But, the officers kept a sharp watch on them, and as a result they were often disturbed in their missionary work. Besides, seizing the fortuitous opportunity provided by Onisaburo, who had voluntarily confined himself to the Ryumon-kan, the officers carried out, in those places, counterpropaganda, which was damaging to the president of the cult.
"What is written in the Fudesaki is true in the real world and it says as follows: 'while you wander on and on in life, you will become confused through muddling with the bitterness of life. If you go against the god's will, you can never hope to live up to your expectations. The god will hardly pay any attention to you because the god will be saddened by your pale face, your empty mind and He will withdraw you from the society and make it impossible for you even to meet another person at the corner of your own house.' He will be sorry for you. But, when the weather becomes warmer, I will be at loss to explain that to whom will leave the church at any moment now. The instant you hear what the president is saying, you will be severely scolded by the god, because the president abides in the paragon of the evil of the world. Again and again watch out for his behavior!" The believers took the officers' words for the truth, and they became so afraid of him that they sprinkled salt and struck sparks with flint to drive away his evil spirit whenever he passed along the way.
"The founder preaches the warp of the world, and the president preaches the woof of the world to explain the doctrine of the founder in an easily understandable way." Onisaburo attempted to have the believers agree, but they failed to understand what he said at all. Onisaburo did not know too well how to deal with them because they believed their own acts were serving the god appropriately while at the same time it was upsetting the doctrine of the god Komatsubayashi-no-mikoto, which Onisaburo was worshipping and as such they felt like putting an end to his missionary work.
Onisaburo, grinding his teeth with resentment, overcame the pain that this situation inflicted upon him, and continued to be absorbed in the writing the doctrine. He had made the truth of the Fudesaki understandable and he had to complete his mission of spreading the doctrine of the Omoto cult all over the world. Moreover, he had to organize the implementation of the doctrine while uniting the revelation of god with the Reality World, and explain in the relation of the Dim World and the Sacred World at Mt. Takakuma, where he was performing his ascetic practice. It was certain that the proper time would come. And it would not be long now; as a result, he had not a minute to loose nor to use for himself and he had to put all the pressure possible on his own work. He had to write much of the doctrine right now and before such a time did arrive.
Onisaburo, sitting at his desk, closed his eyes for a short time. After calming down his mind, he took a pen and began to write.
"The bell chimes or the woodblocks, or both chimes. The relation between the god and the people is the same as the relation between the bell and the woodblock. When the bell unites with the woodblock, the sound reverberates. I'd like to compare the god to the bell, and compare the people to the woodblock. Because of this relation, the god needs the people, and the people need the god. I say that this combined sound is the blessing. That sound, which is the sound of truth in the universe is echoed neither by the bell alone nor by the woodblock alone. The sound of truth echoes when both are resounding. I can say that the bell and the woodblock need each other just as we must live and let the surrounding world live also. One person who cannot receive the god's blessing without devoting its efforts to the search for the god's truth in the world. This is not only the will of the god, but we, ourselves must accept our responsibility of reflecting upon our own mind and should never bear any grudge against an individual or even society. You will receive the god's blessing according to the way you reform your mind. Furthermore, you must endeavor to worship the god. This belief will become your strongest support, in case of emergency.
This is a paragraph of the sentence titled "Fude-no-Shizuku" (A Drop of the Writing Brush) which Onisaburo was writing casually during last year's summer. As this text was to be propaganda materials for Motokichi Nishida and Hana Asai, he had taken great care in writing it as simply as possible. His writing was nearly completed. Once, in the past, his writings had been burnt by believers who were opposing him. So he had now been bringing each page of his manuscript to the house of Shikazo Otsuki as soon as it was completed in order to deposit it in a safe place. Mr. Otsuki and his wife were giving Onisaburo an important status and Onisaburo knew how to deal with them for his own profit. After finishing to write "Fude-no-Shizuku," he was planning to write a book titled "Honkyo-Souseiki" (The Book of Genesis of This Religion).
Sumi finished washing and said piteously, drying her reddish gummy hands with a cloth. "Reverend, I am too busy, today, and I'd like to be absent from school. Besides, it is New Year's Day today." "No, you must study; there are topics related to the New Year's Day and the Bon Festival. Sit down here immediately." "I expect you to complete the pleat. We will even start the first writing of the year from what we wrote before." Although she was grumbling, Sumi sat reluctantly beside him. "Well, first, write what I taught you yesterday." "I remember that you said something, but, I forgot it immediately because I am a fool." "A fool? No, you are no fool. You are an uncut gem. O-Sumi, look at yourself; your mind is in no disposition to remember what you have learned. But, that is only a fly in the ointment I have prepared for you. Well, I am going to cut you into a jewel and write my teaching."
While thinking it over again and again, Sumi grabbed a pen and rubbed Japanese ink on a piece of the paper. After writing each character, she would stop and take a long breath; she seemed to be suffering a lot from doing so. Onisaburo naturally liked to study and he used to feel more dead than alive, if he could not take a pen in hand at any time and start writing, but he nevertheless felt that her behavior was somewhat strange. The officers of the Omoto cult hated hard study, and estimated that the forty-eight characters of the hiragana (the cursive kana characters) was all they needed to learn. But Sumi was repelled even by hiragana. She liked to be active and move around a lot, but it seemed too uncongenial to her, to be writing characters while sitting at a desk. Did Onisaburo sincerely regret that she was the image of the Founder Nao, and was not a woman of learning? Onisaburo thought that Nao was unable to understand the deep and true meaning of the sentences written in the Fudesaki, despite the fact that she had written them with her own hand, because she wrote in an automatic and mechanical way. Nao believed her own automatic writing: Forty-eight characters of i-ro-ha are enough to show the sacred world, she thought. And she believed that even simple kanjis (the Chinese characters) were evil. According to the Fudesaki, the god, in this way, measures His strength against scholastic ability. And she utterly denied any value to learning.
As Nao thought so about learning, it was quite natural that even the more earnest believers, who worshipped her personality, were apt to fall into same evil. It was very difficult to imagine how to stop their influence on the development of the cult.
But, Onisaburo thought it over and concluded that it may have been better for Nao Deguchi, as founder of the cult, not to have had a formal education. Eluding the evils of judgements based only on study, she could devote herself to a life inspired by her pure mind. That's to say, that she had been able to become a sacred person who lived solely according to the revelation of the god.
That would not be a problem for the generation of the founder. But, Sumi who was ordered to succeed as the second generation after the founder, should not be allowed to take the same attitude regarding learning as Nao did. Sumi has a duty to understand correctly the revolution of Nao and hand it down to posterity. If Sumi doesn't do so, the believers will be unable to break away from their superstitious cults and charge their rigid attitudes.
Onisaburo, planned to indoctrinate and teach Sumi properly while shutting himself up in his room. He put heart and soul into that work, teaching her successively hiragana, next katakana (the square form of kana) and then the Chinese characters. But, even when he was only teaching her hiragana, he felt how difficult it would be to teach her while she thought only of escaping from learning. He said to himself: If she rejects it, then is all over. Sumi should be able to read the hiragana of the Fudesaki. If she doesn't, she cannot succeed as the second generation after the founder.
"No, don't write it. Write it in the form of hiragana, write this part of hiragana just as it comes up. Here draw a straight line." Onisaburo nagged at her, but anyway she began to scrawl it just as she liked, forgetting how to write it at all. She came near to having him lose his temper but he managed to restrain himself. "Your character is just the same as the hiragana of the Fudesaki. It looks like an earthworm's wriggling..." Onisaburo checked himself before the word came out of his lips. He drew a long breath while contemplating her crude hiragana. "Thinking about the characters, what is the character, after all? It is not enough for us to make ourselves understood. What does it mean to write it skillfully or not?"
He looked at her hiragana characters, which were written down on the paper at random and with uncertain childish strokes. Her characters had various shapes, sometimes roughly round, then expanding, then spreading as if scurrying headlong away, in fact, it was just the expression of her innocent and charming self. But, would someone be able to rewrite her characters in a correct form and still remain faithful to the text? Her natural innocent mind was shown through these characters, but no one would be able to write in the same style, however, much training was received. Onisaburo was somewhat jealous of her purified writing which he, himself, could not imitate. "Well, I can read your characters, although with some difficulty. I may even recognize in your writing style an earthworm's wriggling. Okay, write it as you like. I truly like your way of writing. I love your nature as it is expressed through the characters you write." Sumi threw away the writing brush. At the same time her baby, Asano began to cry. "Reverend, please stop the lesson of today, if possible, because Asano is crying." Sumi asked him and he nodded in consent to her, almost in spite of himself. "Oh, thank you. I'm going to weave at the loom, taking Asano on my back." Sumi quickly picked up Asano in her arms and went out of the room just as if she was running away from him. Onisaburo took the writing brush in his hand and tried to write some characters imitating her style.
Onisaburo nervously opened the fusuma (the sliding door) of the bedroom in the back of the house because he was worried about Asano who had been crying all the time. Because Asano was naked and felt cold in the unheated cold room. He quickly lifted Asano, who was benumbed with cold, into his arms. "Where is your mother? Oh, pity, to you, you will catch a cold this way." Sumi poked her head inside the closet while searching for something. "It's odd I don't find the clean baby's napkins. I forgot the place where I put them. Do you remember it, Reverend?" "You are but a fool. You should undress Asano only after you have finished preparing her new cloths." He often had told her the same thing. One night he had noticed Asano's distressed crying while he was writing and when he rushed into the bedroom he found. Sumi half asleep, saying, "Reverend, my baby has refused to drink my milk despite all my efforts. He turned over the blankets and, to his utter astonishment, he found that Asano was held upside down in her arms and had Asano's foot on her breast. This was the reason why Asano was crying so hard. "She cannot even deal with a single baby, he thought. How could she ever deal with a second one in the future?" Onisaburo felt inclined to start crying.
Sumi went upstairs to search for the baby's diapers and Onisaburo started singing a lullaby of his own composition.
__"Papa, mama, we are going to visit the church. Wearing a straw raincoat, and putting on a sedge hat and using a stick, I, a girl, will visit the church, putting on a lovely zori (the Japanese sandal) to receive the blessing of the god Konjin. Come everyone come, come ever more, come. When visiting Ayabe, I will put on my zori. Without taking a cab or riding a man-pulled cart. To ride in a cab or a man-pulled cart is to be cajoled. Come everyone, come, come ever more, come. It will be fine weather in Japan, but it will be cloudy in Russia. It will rain in China and Korea. Come everyone come, come ever more, come. While speaking of my dear country, I am longing for my sweet country. But the country has not come to me yet. A helpless age will come and stand besides the gate. Asking for it to come as quickly as possible, the people long for arrival of their dear country. The sacred world, which we call the world of the pine tree, will come and all people will muster up their courage. Come everyone, come ever more, come.
Onisaburo thought that he was going to stay in this place until spring, because he wanted to take good care of his baby and his wife, who had not yet been able to become a reliable mother. After giving Asano back to Sumi, who had now found the clean baby's diapers, Onisaburo picked up some new courage and returned to his writing.
The text read as follows: "The believers, who stuck to me as closely as the short sword a samurai wears in his belt, have the deepest belief in the god and enjoy the most purified strength. As they deeply believe in the god, they are also able to make other persons deeply believe the god. They became the model of an earnest person and will be able to help other persons to become earnest persons. As they adopt this behavior and show it through their actions to others, they will imprint it on the other persons mind. But, from my point of view, they are focusing, at present, only on their own belief. And, I feel compassion and grievance because they suffer from a strong bias in one particular direction and they have lost the central point of their mental world. They suffer deeply from having their world thrown into confusion because they believe in the god solely for their own profit. It should not be permitted that they remain unable to reflect on their own conduct and are, as such, becoming quite disillusioned."
The winter in the Sanin region (that is: Tottori, Shimane and the Northern area of the Yamaguchi Prefecture) is going to change, in slow motion, from its gloomy darkness to clear scenes by calling the advent of spring. The buds of Ume blossoms are going to be bursting one by one. At about the same time, the echo of the bell of the extra-vendor will be heard everywhere in Ayabe.
The extra reported the following; "The Japanese government recognizes that, from the very beginning, Russia has not been earnest in its peace keeping with our country. Russia has already refused the proposal of our Imperial Government. The tranquility of Korea is in imminent danger and that tranquility is of vital interest for the Japanese Empire, but it seems that it is going to be violated by Russia. Such a situation has deep implications that will reflect on everything that will happen hitherto. Now, for the Japanese Empire, there is no other alternative but to continue to ask for our security in the future through peaceful conversations or to meet Russia on the battle field."
On the 10th of February, 1904 (Meiji era 37), Japan declared war against Russia.
The believers of the Omoto cult soon felt the oncoming of spring. The Japan-Russia War was, at last, the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Fudesaki, which Nao had been announcing through her writing, and which had been ridiculed since in 1892 (Meiji era 25). The faces of the officers brightened up with pleasure looking altogether like blossoming sakura. It was quite natural for the believers to be pleasantly surprised at contemplating the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Fudesaki. They were delighted, to say the least.
However, Onisaburo felt depressed. The Japan-Russia War had broken out as a necessary consequence of historical developments. He could not bring himself up to feeling delight at the fulfillment of the prophecy, and was rather resigned at accepting the natural course of historical events. Furthermore, he did not know how to handle their simple-minded delight without disappointing them.
The outlook of Onisaburo regarding the war had already been described in a small essay which title was: "The War and the Rebuilding" as part of a larger work which title was "A Drop of the Writing Brush" which he had finished writing and had deposited in the house of Otsuki family.
The contents of this work can be outlined as follows: In the world of the pine tree which the god Ushitora-no-Konjin rules, it becomes unnecessary for the people of any country to train to become a soldier because there will be no more wars and tranquility will reign under the sun. Currently the Japanese government needs Military preparation and needs to stage a war to protect its land from the onset of capitalist interests. As a result, a lot of citizen of the world must become the soldiers and devote their lives to these aims and, moreover, have to bear the burden of heavy taxes. I will never know how foolish thing it is, to lift the soil to the high place. But, the god will rebuild the world.
"Now, the countries of the world have issued bonds and gotten into debt for 25,000 million dollars, in order to pay for their military preparations, and every day, over 300 million persons must work to pay the interest of these national debts. In addition to that millions of vigorous young men always have been called up for military service and train how to kill the human are forcibly being recruited for military service and are being trained to learn how to kill their fellow humans. In every country healthy and vigorous youths are being enlisted, and only old gray-hair men, women and children are left to cultivate the fields. Life has become truly wretched. What is more, if a war should happen, hundreds of millions of yen will be used while involving the sacrifice of tens of thousands of people's lives. The people will be spent and it will involve the sacrifice and loss of tens of thousands of lives. The people will have to bear an ever increasing burden, and the country will be half-ruined. The Japanese people cannot redeem their ruined country while leaving to the future only a few glorious deeds of military action and the reckless moneymaking of the plungers. Do you know of a graver crime than that in the world? How evil it is! Is this just a World of Beasts? Is this precisely the World of the Demon who fosters so strong a battle? If the world remains indefinitely as it is, there is nothing left in it but to prey on each other in the future. This time, the god has ordered the second rebuilding of the world. You ought to understand this great plan of the god."
On the evening of the third day after the Imperial proclamation of war was issued, Onisaburo was reading the ancient Japanese records, called the "Kojiki". He felt that he could find new knowledge in it, if he read it over and over again and he had done so to the point of being almost able to recite it by memory. He enjoyed his solitary addition to the world of ancient records because other believers, belonging to the insiders group of the cult, were in an uproar after hearing the news of the Russo-Japanese War.
"Reverend! What is the title of the book you are reading during such terrible times?" Takekichi Nakamura, Heizo Shikata and Fusanosuke Murakami stood beside him. "This book? It is entitled the Kojiki." "What? The title means a beggar? Well, the pronunciation is the same in Japanese! Oh, that is really too bad. Hey, give it to me," said Nakamura. Onisaburo gave the book to Nakamura, abandoning the idea of giving any explanation about it. But, Nakamura focused on another book. "And what is this book?" "This one is called the Nihonshoki," answered Onisaburo. "There is no problem with books about Japan, but I would like to have a closer look at it, as a precaution." At the very instant Nakamura opened a page of the book, he lamented he had done so. "Oh, he said, what is written here about Japan is written with only square characters, the Chinese character. Is that clear?" Nakamura said.
Three persons took his favorite books away and put them in the passageway as if they were odious to them and then came in again and sat down before Onisaburo. They said following: "Reverend, the most representative of our believers are going to tell you the following, please listen attentively: The great expectation of the true god is now beginning to be put in practice. And, your god, Komatsu-bayasbi-no-mikoto who likes the square Chinese characters can also understand the value of the O-Fudesaki which is written with only the forty-eight characters of hiragana." "The Russo-Japanese War was also foretold it. Long ago, I told you that when I visited Suruga, now in the Shizuoka Prefecture, a ceremony was held by Reverend Katsutate Nagasawa and myself. The Reverend Nagasawa played the role of the judge to evaluate the truth of the word of the god and I served him as a priest. At that time the Reverend Nagasawa was possessed by the god Komatsu-bayashiand he foretold the Russo-Japanese War in February, 1904." "The war has also been foretold in the O-Fudesaki but long before that. It is quite clear that this god stole the prophecy from the O- Fudesaki." "The war will end in August,1905 and the Japanese government will take possession of the shores of China and a part of Saghalion, but are you able to find such a detailed prophecy in the Fudesaki?" "I could never believe what that god Komatsu-bayashiforetold," Nakamura cast ridicule upon the god Komatsmbayashi.
"I believe what the god Komatsu-bayashi told us. What is more, Nakamura-han, you gave us a shout of warning when you told us that this year, the god would begin to rebuild the world through the Russo-Japanese War. Although great things are happening while our eyes and ears are closed. "Even a child could tell that," said Ouisaburo. "I could not tell that only from my own will, but can do so through the influence of the O-Fudesaki," said Nakamura. "But Nakamura-han said a while ago that this influence was wrong so, I wonder if the O-Fudesaki is just a cock-and-bull story?" Onisaburo said. Nakamura shouted, "What are you saying? Can't you understand that your god Komatsu-bayashi neglected to make any amendment to his conduct. If the god Komatsu-bayashi who is the paragon of the evil was at least able to amend his conduct the sacred and true god could rebuild the world at once. This sacred plan has been scheduled three thousand years ago. It is quite to blame the Fudesaki, while neglecting to amend your own spirit and as a result put the citizens of the world to much trouble," said Nakamura. Onisaburo answered, "Hearing what you said, I think that I at last have been able to amend my conduct." "No, you believe in god Komatsu-bayashi because you are now reading these square characters related to the god Komatsu-bayashi. You cannot amend your conduct from the bottom of your heart, but, my sared god has lost patience and he has begun to rebuild the world." Heizo Shikata deplored: "You are a troublemaker. The president cannot delay to correct your conduct for one more day, because the citizens would suffer for one more day and that is intolerable. It would certainly be a most evil karma for us!" Murakami said in a tragic tone, "But, the president plays an evil role augmenting the difficulty of rebuilding the world. And, we must also play the difficult role to force the president to amend his attitude."
Onisaburo began to laugh finding it rather fun that they would try to make him feel ridiculous and he said to them: "I see. I see. I guess that I have too great a soul, because you suggest that the universe is moving accordingly to my endeavor to amend my conduct and to whether my soul is either good or evil at a given time. Is that what you mean?" "Anyway, the war broke out in accordance with prophecy written in the Fudesaki. The Japanese people will be unable to escape confronting difficult situation, which we cannot transcend in ninety-nine percent of the cases. But, the last case is to be found in the Omoto cult of the Ayabe district where the sacred soul of the female who holds the spirit of a male, a part of the spirit of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin will appear as the god of Nao Deguchi and start ruling the confused world. This great plan of the god is scheduled to turn over the universe and to rebuild the world in order for peace to reign all over. After this plan is achieved the world of Miroku (Maitreya), also called the world of the pine tree, will become a reality on our land. The soul of anyone who hinders the schedule of this great plan will eternally be marked by this stigma and will fall into the land of dimness as a warning to others. The instant the god begins to rebuild the world, you will be pitied in the whole world. I don't hate you, president. It is painful for me not to be able to hate you in spite of your evil role. I beg you. Please amend your conduct, treat us with compassion." After saying so in one breath, Heizo Shikata made a bow with his hands on the tatami. His hair was beginning to turn markedly gray, and his narrow shoulders were trembling.
Murakami crossed his hands. His face looked flushed through strain. He was incorrigibly intending to drive away the god Komatsu-bayashi from the mind of Onisaburo, through exalted prayers and wanted to calm his mind and invite the god. Nakamura glared blazingly at Onisaburo, keeping his chin upwards.
Onisaburo said with a serious look, "I beg you to try to understand what I said. It is a big mistake to believe literally what is written in the Fudesaki and to believe that the god will rebuild the universe at once. You cannot find a single word in the Fudesaki, which deals with the time of the rebuilding. I think that the rebuilding of the world cannot be achieved in such a short time, and that it will take at least thirty or fifty years. We may feel that fifty years or one hundred years are a very long time, but, in the view of the great god, that is certainly a short time, because the god is eternal, and such is the absolute truth in the universe. The god expects imperfect human beings and other kinds of living beings to rise and complete their practices of the mind, and follow up on His effort to rebuild and re-erect the world. I really think so. All kinds of the living things will be rebuilt through birth and death in the future, and they will succeed each other in the service of the god from parents to their children and their grandchildren and so forth, while they expect the arrival of the Pine Tree World. You will regret your belief of expecting that the rebuilding of the world is starting with the Russo-Japanese War. You must study society instead of foolishly walking around proselytizing, and even you must first get rid of your delusion. Avoid being treated as fools by the rest of society, and endeavor not to allow to be said that the cult of Omoto is the den of lunatics and the meeting ground of superstitious persons."
Murakami looked puzzled, but Nakamura said loudly, just as if he wanted to reassure himself and get out of his perplexity: "Shut up. It does not matter for me if they are thinking that we are fools. Now, the sky is covered by thick clouds and it is necessary for us to carry a lantern even in broad daylight. Moreover, even if people speak well of us in such evil world, it is ultimately bad because people are under the spell of evil. This cult of Omoto has been programmed in such a way that since we are spoken ill of now, we will, in the end, reach the best all conditions. Understand that." "Your argument stirs things up, but I would like to intrude in your reasoning for a moment." Hisa Fukushima, who had been living in the Yagi district, entered the room, and greeted them. Nakamura who was quite excited calmed down suddenly and forced an uneasy smile while Heizo Shikata greeted her courteously and offered his seat. "Welcome. When did you arrive? I didn't notice you at all." "I arrived at the church a few moments ago. I came here immediately after greeting the founder. Reverend, I haven't been around to see you for a long time," said Hisa. She was dressed in shabby and the patched cloths. Her rough hands, which she kept on her knees, were tell-tailing the harshness of her life, spent mainly at fighting hard with poverty. But, she had rosy cheeks although she did not use any makeup; her hair was pulled back and tied behind the head with a knot, and her eyes flashed proudly.
Onisaburo greeted Hisa, an old sister-in-law, being anxious to know from where the next bad things would come. Hisa looked at each and all the members, "I want to say to all of you that I am astonished at the O-Fudesaki. At last, the war broke out between Japan and Russia and I cannot keep still, seeing with my own eyes that the prophecy of the O-Fudesaki is being realized. I came from Yagi to give you my congratulations. And, by the way, is the Reverend, despite this, still unable to amend his conduct?" Nakamura was encouraged by her question. "It is far from easy to drive away the god Komatsu-bayashi from the mind of the Reverend and we really don't know what to do with this god and with the Reverend. Ask O-Hisa-han, please persuade him as much as you can."
"Toranosuke-han, are you getting along well? O-Hisa-han is working at the selection of manganese ore, I heard. It is a very hard ascetic practice. I have always been unlucky in searching for manganese in the mountain. When I was a youth, I quite often tried my hand at it in." Onisaburo changed the subject of the conversation." Hisa said, "At this critical and crucial moment, there is a much more important problem far away from that mountain. Reverend, I am prepared for the service of the god at the risk of my life. This very day, I'd like to talk at length with you." Onisaburo was much impressed by Hisa's excitement because she was able to speak much better and logically than Nakamura and his followers. Onisaburo looked at her in a half-sitting posture. "Oh, yes, I'd like to listen carefully to how O-Hisa-han explains this war. But before listening to you and with your permission, I'm first going to answer the call of nature for a moment." Onisaburo pretended to go to the toilet and went outside. He tucked up his kimono and ran all the distance to the house of the Otsuki family in Kitanishi-cho, on the snow-covered-way and arrived just before twilight. The beef shop of the Otsuki family was already closed and he entered the house through the backdoor, stepping on the board cover of a ditch beside the house.
Yone laughed, filling her kiseru (a tobacco pipe) which had an usual oblong brazier. "Reverend, did you also argue with the officers?" "Yah, maybe so, but Hisa-han came there from Yagi, and I ran away to come here." Onisaburo said it quite loudly because Shikazo Otsuki had difficulty hearing. Shikazo, wrapping himself up in a heavy quilt, shaped as a kimono, greeted him cheerfully, "Well, well, you don't know what to do with that Hisa, don't you? Until she returns to Yagi, she can stay at my house without any problem. Have you had supper already?" "No, the truth is, that at the instant I remembered the supper, I felt hungry and it makes my empty stomach growl," said Onisaburo. "Let's eat the best beef available, it will melt in your mouth as you touch it with your tongue. Hey, Yone, first warm up some sake." Shikazo seemed to be very cordial towards Onisaburo though he was somewhat resentful towards Nao and Sumi for some table expenses that Ryo, a younger sister-in-law, had been charged on one occasion. But, Shikazo was eager to curry his favor some way or another.
They had sukiyaki, boiled about 1,300 grams of beef which changed color a little, and added some Welsh onion from the cottage, which was somewhat separated from the main house.
Shikazo and Yone began to drink sake, filling each other's cup in a friendly manner. As Onisaburo was a nondrinker, because he would become red, as soon as he drank, he started eating Nara-zuke (the pickles seasoned in sake lees), and he diligently ate plenty of beef. It tasted mighty well for Onisaburo who had lately become accustomed to rather simple food. "Ueda-han, I'm going to shut down my beef shop. Tonight may be the last time I can offer you a bellyful of beef." Shikazo said cheerlessly, while cramming the half-boiled white Welsh onion into his mouth. Onisaburo was calmly cramming beef into his mouth. "When I opened the beef shop with O-Yone, it was very new business. O-Yone worked well with her sleeves tucked up and a red ribbon on her head which fitted her well. It was about thirty years ago. But, we are getting old now," Shikazo said. Well, Shikazo ate only the Welsh onion, avoiding the greasy beef. It is maybe, because of his age. This Shikazo, when he was young, used to tightly fastened the legs of other person's horse to a tree on the road, and used to eat the raw meat of that horse, cutting its body with a large kitchen knife, I have heard. Well yes, indeed he has aged.
Instead of Shikazo, it was now Onisaburo who had a keen appetite. "The founder will receive with joy the news of your shutting up the beef shop," said Onisaburo. Shikazo said, "I often argued with that old woman. It stings me to reflect that the founder and others laughed in derision at me, while telling me that it was a pity that beef of superior quality became discolored at last. Now that two new nice shops of our competitor have opened in this small town, it is of no use to invent a pretext for quarreling with them." Onisaburo asked, "What are you going to do?" Shikazo said. "I will rent my shop to someone, and use this cottage as a gambling house to make a living. A Tanba deer still commands the respect of its peers even when ruined. I cannot bear with much ease that the old woman of the Hongu district sneers at me." "Are you going to work hard to make a living as a gambler? Well, did you receive a letter from Denkichi-han?" Onisaburo asked. "Oh, yes. That fellow is getting along very well, I heard. After getting a wife, that fellow anchored himself as a stone in the Gifu Prefecture." "My husband expects him to come back home and he often sends letters to him, but, he has not returned home even a single time. Soon, next month, his wife is going to have her second child, I heard," said Yone, serving sake to Shikazo with a smile.
Denkichi (the third son of Nao) who had been adopted by Mr. Ostuki and his wife went to the Gifu Prefecture in 1900 and he was working for a major weaving company, which specialized in woven silk crape for export to America. He was in charge of the thrown silk department. He had almost immediately married a local factory girl, Mitsuyo Asano. It was said that Denkichi loved her because she used to sing weaving with sweet voice. In September, 1901, Mitsuyo gave birth to their first son. According to Yone, Mitsuyo was to give soon afterwards birth to their second child. Yone tottered between frenzy and sanity for nine years, but, now, she was aging in tranquility and was close to Shikazo who was now sixty-six years old. On the other hand, she was always bluffing to hide her desolated emptiness. "I will call Denkichi home." Onisaburo thought unintentionally. "Otsuki-han, may I meet the President?" There was man's voice coming from the garden. Shikazo who was hard of hearing looked on it with indifference. Yone noticed it and sled the shoji, including her body. Beside a stone lantern, which was covered with snow, Nakamura was standing with a somewhat cold air, holding a paper lantern in one hand. Yone, being slightly intoxicated called out to him with seeming interest. "Look there. You seem to be cold. The President is still in the midst of dinner. What would you like to do? Would you like to come in and wait for him inside?"
When Nakamura perceived the scent of meat, he came towards the edge of the veranda pinching his nose and said, "Reverend, O-Hisa-han is waiting for you. Please, come as quickly as possible." His attitude hurt Yone's feelings. "The Reverend of the Kinmei-Rei-gakkai (Kinme-Spiritual Academia) likes beef very much, you know. Nakamura-han, please join the group. You may get much warmer from meat than with the porridge of the dumpling of acorn's flour or potato's leaf. Still pinching his nose, Nakamura said loudly to Shikazo, "Otsuki-han, you married the eldest daughter of the founder, and on top of that, you adopted the good son of the founder as your son. Nevertheless, why do you let the Reverend eat the meat of a four-footed animal? It is quite cruel of you to do such a thing. Don't you feel that?" Shikazo laughed contemptuously at him. "Nobody knows what may happen tomorrow. The palm of victory falls to the one who eats the most goodies on a single day and does whatever he chooses to do. You must amend your conduct much more and open an antique dealer's shop and sell imitations. I suggest to you that to make money you first eat a lot of beef to invigorate yourself and that you even to go to bed with a geisha, for instance. This present world is now just as Heaven. Following the mad old woman, a real man ends up cleaning lavatories. What is the rebuilding of the world, anyway? The Reverend eats the flesh of a four-footed animal, and as such he eats a person (it means to set a person at naught in Japanese), and eats the gods (it means to gulp down the god). Behave yourself in a civilized way as does the Reverend and a few more people.
Yone also was irritated and chaffed with her husband like if she was competing with him. "Say, Nakamura-han, however hard you try to show an earnest face, you don't get away with it with us. Don't forget that not so long ago you were called the Takehan of Harimaya, who gambled and had a sweetheart. You also ate beef heartily. Don't become senile and do not bother yourself and others with that foolish Fudesaki: it would be better for you to go around carrying my shop's beef on your shoulder and sell it. If you sell a total of five yen, I will give you a commission of one yen." Nakamura, turning pale, repressed his anger and said, "Anyhow, let the Reverend go back. Now, the Reverend is a vessel in which the god Komatsu-bayashi lives, but in the future, he is going to become the precious soul and the flesh that serves the god of the Omoto cult. The Sacred Reverend's soul will be clouded while being in such a place, and the Reverend cannot play the sacred role in days of peril. Hey, Reverend, what are you doing there?" Onisaburo belched comfortably and said, "Oh, no. I already made short work of 110 grams of beef. This beef which I ate, was offered to the god Komatsu-bayashi through my mouth. And, after offering an additional 110 grams to the god Ushitora-no-Konjin, I will return home. Please go home first and give my best regards to the founder and O-Hisa-han."
Nakamura clicked his tongue regretfully. "There is no help for karma. After all the evil soul is always going to get near the evil souls of the demon and the big snake." Shikazo, who had become quite drunk crawled out of the veranda, "Hey there, Nakamura. Am I a demon or a big snake? Why do you call me the evil god despite the fact that I did not cause you any monetary harm? Can you explain that?" Shikazo stretched himself and started beating him. But, Nakamura did not run away. He said, raising his face which had become red because his nose was now bleeding. "This Nakarnura is the trueborn soul and body of a real Japanese spirited man. I would never fear the soul of Russia which Shuten-doji (a legendary bandit) holds on Mt. Oe. Even if the evil gods of Russia make the president captive this Japanese soul, Nakamura will never allow them to succeed in their purpose." "Oh, now the Russo-Japanese War broke out again. We cannot help it now and must bear the things as they come to pass, isn't that so? I understand what you said. I will come back. I will return." Onisaburo smiled wryly and stood up, quietly wiping the sweat off his lips with his hand.