Mother Earth

Volume 8: The Roar of Angry Waves

Chapter 11: Udumbara

      On January 1, 1905 (Meiji era 38), Port Arthur was at last taken by the Japanese forces. But, the corpses of Japanese soldiers lay in heaps on the battlefield because they had been exposed to the superior firing power of the Russian forces. The war was intensifying.

      "Within this year the rebuilding and re-erecting of the world will speedily be concluded and the world of Miroku (Maitreya) will become reality. Close to your feet birds will fly off and you will understand everything all of a sudden." This prophecy of the Fudesaki was becoming reality.

      According to the officers' personal interpretation of the Fudesaki, the time at which they would see their supreme ambition becoming reality was just pressing at their feet. They got excited, and started shouting that they had now to put the teachings of the Fudesaki into practice.

      In the Fudesaki the following was written; "Walk in the middle of the way." The way of sincere duty and reason will be clearly indicated as the path humans ought to follow. The word of dark world was written in the Fudesaki. Its word was guessed the world that people are unable to know right from wrong. But, they understood the meaning of the words only as word-for-word.

      Takekichi Nakamura, was walking all day long through the streets, carrying in his left hand a lighted lantern which had a crest of nine circles around a slightly larger circle, called the god's crest of the Omoto cult, while holding a folded sensu (a fan) in his right hand. He was walking straight forward, reciting loudly the sentences of the Fudesaki, without regard to a cow carriage and a man-pulled cart that were coming on. The driver of the cow carriage was surprised at his carelessness and shouted to him, but Nakamura answered proudly, "Can you not see the power of the god? Even when walking in the middle of the road, I can go ahead without any problem because everything that comes near has to give way to me."

      Such a fellow will not listen to what Onisaburo preaches, however much he may endeavor to teach him. Onisaburo gave up on him in despair, and returned to his writing, shutting himself up in a room named Garyutei (Dragon's lying room).

      War between countries and dispute between persons are entirely caused by the appetites. War and dispute occur when self-interest is not checked by the sacred mind, and when we forget the fate of the world, and when only our own country and our own profit are placed before the interests of the other countries or persons. Such actions and thoughts are evil.

      1. All over the world, the soldiers of every country are aroused by the desire of defending their nation and as a result they start wars. War in the world is contrary to God's will because God has a strong aversion to fixing the fate of human beings, to be it their fortune or their misfortune. After a storm follows a calm and there's no impeding it to calm the world, but nonetheless nothing is more cruel than war.

      2. Actions which rob the persons of their sacred life are against God's will and bring damnation, as do any actions which go against the Divine will, because life was given to human beings by God, the Creator. The nations who started this war are great offenders to God. They are robbing the world of peace and do the world much harm. God rewards the devotion of each country, and for this reason God gave the victory to Japan. The most powerful god assisted Japan in this war. This god's name is Takatsu-kami. Who is the god Takatsu-kami? The god Takatsm-kami is the holy spirit who protects heaven and earth, as is referred to in common talk, as the god Konjin.

      "Reverend, Asano is a strange child, you know," said Sumi showing her face at the veranda. Asano, who was coming in, following her mother, whispered wit some displeasure. "No, I am not Asano, I am Naohi." "Well, well, she will be called so from now on. If you call her Asano, she will not answer anymore," said Onisaburo. When the Omoto cult held the ritual called Iwato-biraki (In the ancient records of the Kojiki, it is written that the goddess Amaterasu-Okami came out of a cavern in the rock and brightened the dark world) at the summit of Mt. Shumisen in May 1903 the sacred words appeared in the Fudesaki as follows: "The god has decided that Asano will be called Naohi during her sacred existence." Onisaburo knew it. At that time he gave to the officers of the cult a note according to which Asano was given the new name of Naohi by the god. However, it was quite certain that Asano would not change her soul nor her flesh.

      Onisaburo, with some amount of obstinacy, continued to call her by the name, Asano, which he, as her father, had given her. But how did she begin to call herself "Naohi" despite being only a child and being only at the beginning of getting the ability of expressing her own judgment. He could not think that a child under three, could speak of its own will on this matter. "Your true name given by the god is Naohi." Asano was certainly induced by her grandmother to call herself Naohi.

      The strong Will of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin was transmitted to an infant grand-daughter of Nao through her. In the same way that the sorrel vines creep from apparently nowhere and take roots all over, then stubbornly mingle their thick leaves with all the surrounding plants and finally densely cover trees and grass and at last, make everything else wither completely, the Will was creeping from apparently nowhere towards Asano. It was ruining the bushes, and it was impossible to tell when it would grow buds because its roots were stretched all over, deep into the soil.

      __I entered the Omoto cult, of my own will. I have brought myself to the point of being identified with the cult. However, what will this child's fate be, if this child as to carry the load of the actions and thoughts of three generations of the Omoto cult before being able to express its own will. Asano is silent and seems continuously to be thinking in something; she does not have the natural charm of a little girl. I am worried that, in the future, she could transform even her innocent mind into the monster of the Fudesaki, and that the name Asano would be changed into Naohi. "Asano!" Onisaburo lifted his daughter in his arms. Asano forcefully stretched her arm trying to push him away, "No, I am not Asano." "Oh, well, yes, you are Naohi. Papa will call you Naohi from now on. Naohi, which do you like better, grandmother or papa?" His daughter did not answer, looking at him intensely. Onisaburo pressed his daughter tightly to his heart and wept bitterly in secret.

      From now on, Asano is written Naohi in this text.

      "Speaking of Naohi, I think that any child has strong points similar to those of its parents," said Sumi entering the room, smiling. "What do you say?" asked Onisaburo who was reading the daily of the Omoto cult.He raised his face because he was very interested in knowing every thing related to Naohi. Sumi had the habit of always telling him anything that was of interest in Naohi's life. This morning, Naohi was talking outdoor with a neighbor friend called Chie. At this time Sumi was weaving and Nao came to her, smiling and pointed with her finger toward the pergola. "Listen to her. listen to what she is saying." It seems that things are taking an ugly turn between them. Sumi did not know the reason for their quarrel. Chie was saying, "It is non-non," and Naohi was replying, "It is man-man." They kept saying so and finally both ended up crying. "Non-non" means the temple or Buddha, and "man-man" means the god. These words were used by children all over the district. "Naohi had started the argument about the god and Buddha," Onisaburo smiled wryly.

      Sumi kept talking, and when Chie returned, Sumi left with Naohi to go to the geta (wooden clogs) shop in Kami-cho. Naohi was a silent girl. "We will respect you if you can make this silent girl speak. Can someone make her speak or is that impossible?" There were some fellows who even were makings bets on her silence. However, Naohi opened her mouth although with a gloomy face, as she met the owner of the store. "Look at that, my papa wears that on his head." Sumi, understanding what she was saying, kept her on her side and started laughing. "What do you think it is? It is a black cover used on clogs with high supports." "It looks like a hat, indeed." The cover of the clogs with high supports looks quite alike an eboshi (headgear worn by nobles in Japanese court dress). Sumi had tender feelings towards Naohi who looked at it straight through her infant eyes, not being the least concerned with the difference of value between a crown and the cover of shoes.

      After Sumi went out, Onisaburo had a look at a page of the daily of the Omoto cult, which was written by Fusataro Takehara, and soon began to laugh uproariously, as he read the following sentence: "Miss Naohi dropped another one again today."

      Last night, after Sumi had fallen asleep, Naohi got up and told Onisaburo that she was hungry. As he was very complacent with his child, he could not help granting her whatever she wanted. Once Sumi had fallen asleep, she would almost never wake up again before the end of the night. Onisaburo, carrying Naohi on his back, went to town and made her eat her fill of udon (noodles) at a noodle shop which at his request opened again despite the fact that the fire in kitchen was already extinguished. It was probably for that reason that Naohi, feeling guilty for what she had done, started suddenly to cry in the morning. Onisaburo was reluctant to tell what had happened and he washed her clothes in secret.

      Takehara thoroughly believed the teachings of the Fudesaki: "Write down everything that occurs in the Omoto cult," it says. "Ugh, that fellow, Takehara has noticed something," Onisaburo muttered to himself. Being under the spell of the love of his daughter, Onisaburo went to the main house to fetch her, but he did not find her besides Nao in the room upstairs. She had gone downstairs and was sitting on the earth floor. He found her there. She was alone and looking upward at the sky, while leaning against the lattice door at the entrance. The snow was coming down in large flakes on her soft hair and her striped kimono (Japanese clothes) which Sumi had woven by hand. Naohi was repeating a song in a low voice. "When looking upwards, I see dusts and ever more dust, when looking downwards, I see snow and ever more snow."

      Onisaburo looked at the sky. A blanket of lead colored dust was falling towards the earth, then softly transforming into snow. Naohi often looked at the sky utterly charmed by the beautiful scene. Onisahuro lifted her close to his bosom and remained there quiet and silent, feeling nostalgic at the purity of a child's mind. In the spring of 1903, Yone Ueda returned home from Ayabe to Anao via Sonobe. Yoshimatsu had returned a little before. It seemed that the atmosphere of the city did not agree with him. He had fled from the Jinzo-Seinyu-Shuseisha (The Artificial milk industry Shuseisha) company and had, at last, found his way back to his old haunt in his native village.

      The smith's house besides the Kyubei pond had been the only one to escape destruction in the fire-ravaged region of the Miyagaichi district. It had originally a large earth floor with a forge and a wide wooden floor for the craftsmen. After the fire, the wooden floor was furbished with six tatamis, in such a way that it could be used as a room. Then Yoshimatsu had amplified the building at the northern site of the main house with an additional room of three tatamis for his mother, Yone, and rebuilt the earth floor section, fitting it with an earthen furnace for cooking, to make a kitchen.

      Yone and Yoshimatsu were now living in that house. Yone worked the narrow field of the Ueda family, and Yoshimatsu, pulling a cart around the surrounding village, peddled soy, firewood, and ice in summer. However, he could not keep away from gambling which he liked by nature.

      After Yone had left the Sonobe district, Kimi, Onisaburo's younger sister, went working at her employer's house in the Matsuo district, Funai county. When Kimi finally came back to the Anao district, her native village where her mother still lived, she found out that the chestnuts of a Japanese chestnut tree beside the Kyubei pond had burst open just as they did at the time she was a child. At the moment she touched the bur, standing on her tiptoes, it fell into the pond. She felt somewhat nostalgic at remembering the time she was only twelve years old, although it was unclear if it was out of sorrow or delight. She had been forced to leave the elementary school of Ayabe when she was only a fourth grader. After she had unilaterally decided to stay with her mother for about ten days Kimi went into the service of a neighboring farmer, Manpei Saito.

      On 10th of January, 1905, Yoshimatsu got a severe lung inflammation and fell into a critical condition. Onisaburo ran to his bedside with Fusanosuke Murakami. Within two days Onisaburo dreamed that the lightning had struck Yoshimatsu and that he was dead. The next day, while he was making arrangements for his journey back home and was still worried about that dream he got a telegram saying that of Yoshimatsu was indeed in a critical condition. Motonori Nishida and his wife, as well as Kunimatsu Nango, made the journey from the Uji district, Yamashiro county, to visit Yoshimatsu, while the youngest brother of Yoshimatsu, Masaichi Kotake came from Kyoto, and Keitaro Deguchi arrived a little later with good wishes of recovery from the believers of the Ayabe district. It is probable that all of them prayed for him from the bottom of their hearts. Yoshimatsu miraculously recovered from his illness almost immediately.

      At the beginning of February, Yoshimatsu married Kochie Nagata who was twenty-one years old and lived in the Chihara district of the Chiyogawa Village. She was distantly connected with him. Onisaburo sent him a trifling present. Since then, Yoshimatsu often wrote letters to him to ask for some financial support to fight off the hardships of life. Although in the past Onisaburo took charge of his mother and young sister, however, he could not protect them and asked his younger brother, Yoshimatsu, to support them. He was himself in debt and really had no money left. He wondered how he would be able to make Yoshimatsu understand his living conditions in Ayabe, when he was not even being allowed to work as a navy. While anticipating his feelings on the matter, Onisaburo was quite at pains to write a letter of refusal to him.

      Takekichi Nakamura brought his cart to a rest on the bank of the Yura River and sat down on the edge of the cart. On the back of his coat, the words "kane-no-kuwa" (a golden hoe) were printed in white letters. He hung a lighted lantern at the end of the bar of the cart, despite the lingering clarity of the sunset, because this world was described as the dark universe in the Fudesaki. His second wife, Koma, had strongly been urging him to go out peddling the articles of their firm. But, to work to provide for his own income, was not perceived as an important task by the virile son of Japan. He aspired at devoting himself to the propagation of his faith and, as a result, he often forgot to collect the charge for the articles he sold.

      On the 5th of February (the 2nd of January in the old calendar), on his way home, after he visited the original site of Ise to pray that the god would allow him to fulfill his supreme ambition despite being occupied at selling implements for his firm, he arrived near a river, that seemed aglow with the light of the setting sun and he noticed a few crucian carps moving briskly, close to the waterside. At the beginning of spring those crucian carps could feel that the new season was arriving and that it would bring an end to their winter torpor. The water, which was mainly melted snow, was still painfully cold, and some spots of snow could still be seen around the summit of the mountain. Nakamura took out his pipe and a tinderbox and lighted it. He saw a pine tree which buds were bursting, above the white smoke of his pipe.

      __In the whole world, the ume flowers bloom at the same time sharing the love of the god Ushitora-no-Koniin.

      This was the phrase written at the beginning of the Fudesaki. The fantasy of ume flowers coming into full bloom at the same time made the believers' heart throb, a feeling fit for the beginning of spring. But, this year, the ume flowers seemed to have their buds bursting first in the flatlands and later in the mountain.

      Despite Nakamura's loud shouts for the rebuilding and re-erecting of the world, despite his forcing his voice to the point of spitting blood, most people in Ayabe will not be interested in what he is announcing, not to mention the rest of the nation. Despite joining in the attack against Onisaburo, the officers could not drive away that paragon of evil, the god Komatsu-bayashi who had taken hold of him. The War between Russia and Japan had broken out in 1904, according to the prophecy of the Fudesaki, and that year came to an end with the believers in great turmoil, because they thought that they had to start the task of rebuilding the world this year or never. The next year began in an uproar caused by the victory of Japan. Was it true that this world was tumbling and that the god Ushitora-no-Konjin would appear to judge good and evil, and that the world of the pine tree would at last become reality and that the common people would now be able to endure the wearisome bustle of life with joy? No, I am afraid not. It might turn out that the common people will remain in their present situation, always waiting and hoping for actions that lay beyond their power. He quickly shook off his illusions and started hesitating, shaking his head in denial. "I am very tired and I have been dreaming because Koma is an annoying fellow."

      As it was getting darker, Nakamura increased the brightness of the lantern. It had become much colder, and it was now painful for him to move. A cotton-like moon was floating at the edge of the mountain. The eyes of Nakamura got locked on it as he was innocently looking at it. Yesterday was the first day of the New Year according to the old calendar, and tonight was the 2nd day of the first lunar month. That is certainly the moon of the second day. I am not dreaming now. He jumped up and rubbed his eyes. "Oh, it finally has begun. This is an ominous sign announcing the rebuilding of the world. I should not be slow-going. Hey, even at this time, I am serving to hotoke (it indicates nodo-botoke, which means the Adam's apple in Japanese), while submitting to the wishes of a woman. It is a mistake for a Japanese man to spend my time indulging my wife's whims, hum!"

      He pushed his cart, with its load, over the bank of the river and threw it into the water. Then he drew out the money belt from his bosom and, with a yell, threw it into the water also sending up a splash that made the lantern fly away. If the world of Miroku became reality, he would never need the money anyway, he thought. He started running, tucking up the skirt of his kimono. At the time he crossed the Iden bridge, the moon had disappeared. "My God! Gracious!" He started crying in great alarm in front of the Ryumon-kan's gate (the gate of the building named Dragon-Gate) and took off his straw sandals, while pulling it open. He ran upstairs and rushed into the grand hall.

      The officers who had not yet left, surrounded him after supper. "All of you who are members, listen to me. I have now prayed to the moon of the second day. I could not see that moon from beside the Iden Bridge, but, I have no doubt that it was that moon. You can read the sentence written in the Fudesaki: the time in which the bloom of beans is parched will come, and it is also said that it cannot be seen, so I am quite sure that looked at the moon of the second day, with my own eyes for the first time in my life." "It is an auspicious sign," said Murakami. "It is clear evidence that the world is tumbling. So far so good! The great desire of the god is going to manifest itself in the world." Nakamura joined his hands in front of the altar, moaning as if he was in a trance. He started to recite a prayer, and was dropping large tears. "We must quickly report this event to the founder," said Takehara, standing up and changing color, but, Heizo stopped him, pulling him by the sleeve. "Now, that the prophecy of the O-Fudesaki is becoming reality in the world, I urge you to wait a little to see it more distinctly." Heizo calmed down the assistance, who had gotten quite excited and following Nakamura he began to recite the prayer himself. Soon, they were loudly chanting in unison. As Nakamura concluded his prayer, he unintentionally looked at a basin in front of the altar. "Oh, that is it, Oh." The basin had been filled with purified water, as usual. "What are you looking at, Nakamura-han?" asked Heizo, stretching himself. Nakamura pointed, with a trembling finger, towards the basin. A slightly transparent flower, which was in full bloom was floating on the surface of the water; its white tip was dipping in the water. "Look at this, the flower of udumbara is in full bloom in the god's water," said Nakamura. "Oh, is this the flower called udumbara?" All the members turned their eyes to it and quietly joined their hands in prayer, turning towards the flower. According to tradition, the udumbara flower blooms only once every three thousand years, and it was also said that when the flower bloomed a sacred sovereign called Konrin-oh (a King named Konrin) would appear in the world. According to another tradition, it was the other way around, that is: when Konrin-oh appears, the udumbara flower would start blooming. The udumbara is the sacred auspicious flower of the legend.

      Heizo sobbed. "I think that I am the first one in the world to have seen it. I am the first one to have seen how the moon of the second day and blooming udumbara are!" Nakamura was excited. "If the rebuilding begins, three tenth of the people will be lost. Please President, some way or another, try to be among those who remain until the last moment." Yusuke Shikata said in a faltering voice. "Well, according to the teachings of the Omoto cult, beasts and worms will get God's help. When we show this miracle to the god Komatsu-bayashi, that obstinate god will run away. Hey, Yuusuke-han, summon the President here, " ordered Nakamura. At hearing the request made by Yuusuke. Onisaburo came painstakingly upstairs. "President, we want the god Komatsu-bayashi to retire and we want you to play the role of a good servant of the god Ushitora-no-Konjin who is protecting us. It is of no concern to me that you might suffer some aggravation from this. This is my last advice. Do you understand?"

      Hearing the high-pitched, enervated voice of Nakamura scolding him. Onisaburo asked, "What happened to your august face?" Far from what you say, has occurred. Your god Komatsu-bayashi has not been able to open your spiritual eyes and give you the spiritual feelings you are usually boasting of. I can tell you that these auspicious omens have appeared repeatedly. First, this is the moon of the second day to which I prayed last night." "Why are you so interested in the moon of the second day? I have prayed to that moon in the Anao Village several times before. As you know nothing about the surroundings of that small place which is entirely surrounded by the mountains, such an insignificant event became great news for you. To spread such foolish things will bring upon us the scorn of the world. Do not say such things in public." Nakamura shouted, "Stop repeating your god's nonsense! People have handed down the word of a crescent, but no one has heard a word about the moon of the second day. Stop your idle talk. To attempt to make of your soul a crystal cloud, does not benefit you, and it will not bring you any success." Heizo Shikata quickly threw a word into the conversation. "President, it's not only that, look at this. The udumbara is blooming in that basin. It is said that this flower blooms only once every three thousand years. Now is not the time to be grumbling." "Udumbar?" Onisaburo moved near the basin.

      "What a wonder! It is a beautiful flower and it is so radiant," said Heizo. "It is strange that you can identify this flower as being the udumbara despite the fact that you are night-blind," said Onisaburo. "Nakamura-han told me so." said Heizo looking at Nakamura and seeming somewhat confused. "Nakamura-han, why do you say that this flower is the udumbara?" Onisaburo asked. "I perceive it in my own way," answered Nakamura arrogantly, with unshaken faith. Onisaburo took the white flower out of the basin spilling some water with it, and after examining it carefully, he thrust it at Heizo's face. "It certainly looks as if it was glowing!" After picking it up again, Onisaburo gave it to Nakamura. "Look at the open doorway. A little sparrow came in through the window and evacuated in the basin. Those are the droppings of a sparrow. Tell me what you think of it, after carefully tasting and smelling it. A little later Nakamura moaned. "I guess that the god Komatsu-bayashi did turn the udumbara into the dropping of a sparrow. That fellow! The god Komatsu is hindering our rebuilding of the world." Onisaburo was going to leave the place at once but Murakami looking quite afflicted begged him to stay, clinging to his sleeve. "Please, don't tell anyone about what has happened here because we must first think about the Omoto cult." "I have heard that you value this cult. If that is so, don't push your faith in the rebuilding of the world too far, because you may end up waiting in vain. Well, hey, Takehara, get me a writing brush." Onisaburo struck rapidly some lines on a piece of Japanese paper, holding it in his hand. "Nakamura-han, you may have it." All turned their heads towards him and Takehara read it aloud.

      The "bell-ring" insects are waiting in the fields for the time of rebuilding which is called Matsuno-ga-hara (the waiting field). It is a pity that they are waiting for that time of winter, which sears the vegetation.

      I am reluctant to listen to those shrill sounds which announce the rebuilding and re-erecting of the world.

      When Takehara had finished reading the two wakas (a tanka, a 31-syllable Japanese poem) several times. Onisaburo had left.

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