Mother Earth

Volume 9: The Dawn of Tamba

Chapter 7: The Business of Reorganizing the World

      In April, Naohi, who was now seven years old, entered elementary school at Ayabe. Onisaburo, as a result of his self-study of the duties and chores of a father, wrote an essay under the title of: "The Business of Reorganizing the World". The Ayabe district was a district where almost the occupations were related to farmhouse husbandry and commerce. How would Naohi's teacher understand his business?

      In 1908 (Meiji era 41), Onisaburo was actively engaged in religious activities. On the 23rd of April, according to the instructions of Nao, the god Hitsujisaru-no-Konjin was enshrined together with the god Ushitora-no-Konjin in front of the large altar that stood on the first floor, and the ritual in which both gods, that is, the god Ushitora-no-Konjin and the god Hitsujisaru-no-Konjin, would become man and wife was held there. As the god Hitsujisaru-no-Konjin, who was said to be the god who possessed Onisaburo, was first introduced and presented to the world on this occasion, the attitude of officials and believers towards Onisaburo, changed quite radically. Furthermore, the scattered believers who had heard about the return of Onisaburo, began to gather in the Ayabe church. Nao was absorbed in dealing with divine spirit, and had entrusted to Onisaburo.

      When Onisaburo began to take up his role in earnest, he had, from the very onset, to start wrestling with the long-pending problem of official recognition for the religious order. It became soon clear that he would be unable to fulfill his aspiration of having the Omoto cult officially recognized under the rules set by the Government Agency for Control of Religion, unless he deviated from the teachings of the Fudesaki. He wanted to elude the interference of the authorities through secretly entering a minor branch of another established cult for the time being.

      On the 4th of June, Onisaburo set up and wrote down the rules that would be used by the main branch of the Chokurei (Negotiation with Divine Spirit) Church of the Taisei-kyo (religious cult) to achieve that purpose, and the superintendent of the Headquarters of the Taisei religious order agreed to it. The Taisei-kyo, one of the 13 cults united under the single denomination of Shintoism had been established by Seisai Hirayama (1815-1890), who had been the President of the counsel of magistrates of the Foreign Countries Department in the days of the Tokugawa shogunate.

      Hirayama was banished by the Meiji Restoration government and was confined to his house in Shizuoka Prefecture. He was allowed to return to Tokyo in 1870, and later became the Grand Head priest of the Hikawa Shrine, which was a government shrine. Later, he reorganized several folk cults such as the Misogi-kyo (the ablution cult), Tokyu-jutsu (the witchcraft cult aimed at the purification of the mind), the Renmon cult, Confucianism, Shingaku (the study of the mind and its training) and other similar cults, and he became the founder of a new cult, the Taisei-kyo in 1882. After his death he was enshrined as a god called Motoyamahiko-Hiromichi-no-mikoto. The church of the Taisei-kyo was dedicated to seven gods among whom were to be counted the Three Creators (Ameno-Minakanushi-no-kami, Takamimusubi-no-kami and Kamimusubi-no-kami), and the souls of defunct priests and believers, including Motoyamahiko-Hiromichi-no-mikoto. The doctrine of the founder Seisai Hirayama emphasized the Way of the Gods of Shintoism (that is, total surrender of human being's life to the divine will) with Tenno as the central figure. The believers of the Taisei-kyo held rituals of purification, studied astrology and divination, as well as prophecy and meditation, and they also trained themselves to become able to easily control their breathing. In a word, the Taisei-kyo was a joint undertaking of various religious cults which had different doctrines. The Mitake-kyo also belonged to the Taisei-kyo for a while.

      It was unclear how Onisaburo had gotten in touch with the Taisei-kyo, but, it seems that, in some way the Taisei-kyo intended to bring the Omoto-kyo along its own policy lines. On the 8th of June, the opening ceremony of the main branch church. Chokurei-kyokai of the Taisei-kyo was held at the Ryumon-kan (the Dragon's Gate Building). Nobuyoshi Inoue, the head priest of the Tokyo branch of the Taisei-kyo, visited Ayabe with some members of Shibata and Fujii. They stayed at a hotel named Kikkyoya, and they attended the opening ceremony. Onisaburo set up the altar downstairs, and he secretly invoked both the god Konjin of the Ushitora and the Hitsujisaru, while hiding the altar of the Omoto-kyo upstairs. It was a sad camouflage. On the 1st of August Onisaburo reorganized the existing Kinmei-Rei-Gakkai (Kinmei Spiritual Study Academia) and changed its name to Dai-Nippon-Shusaikai (the Grand Japanese Association of the Ablutions). He issued the first number of a publication named "Lectures on the Doctrine" in September, and started to propagate his teachings, using that publication. However, this magazine was not properly conceived, and he discontinued its publication after its fourth issue.

      The sacred words of the Fudesaki had been reproduced in the second issue of the magazine as follows: "Disputes die hard in the world because seven or eight kings claim the same lands; but the sacredness of the situation calls for only one king to rule over the world. This battle will be fought on a large scale. As the power of the gods and the power of the civilization are endowed with similar strength, it is very difficult to end the battle." It seems to be that it was the first time the Fudesaki had gotten into print, but that remains unclear because the initial number was lost.

      On the 25th of September Onisaburo, who had been shuttling to the Fushimi district in Kyoto two or three times a month, was soon appointed director of the examination board for the expenditure of teachers' licenses. That board was, in fact, a board of trustees and it had jurisdiction over the Parish of the Mitake-kyo in the Osaka Prefecture. Onisaburo was progressively taken into the confidence of the Mitake-kyo.

      On the 1st of October the Dai-Nippon-Shusaikai proclaimed the articles of the association, which included new revisions of former articles. The whole was made up of 13 Chapters and 75 Articles, and that was, in fact, an attempt to organize the religious cult, with Onisaburo as a central figure. On the 13th of November Onisaburo presented his resignation to the Headquarters of the Mitake-kyo, but it was not immediately accepted. On the 26th, Onisaburo served as master of ceremony at the opening of the Osaka church of the Mitake-kyo. On the 8th of December Onisaburo led the introductory ceremony of the opening of the Chokurei Church which stood under the direct control of the Taisei-kyo in Ayabe, and at the same time, he carried out the grand autumn festival. The Ryumon-kan was filled to over-capacity by about one hundred believers. At the grand autumn festival of the year before the assistants, including his family, were less than twenty. On the 16th of December the Kyoto Prefectural government granted a special gift of seven yen to Onisaburo in recognition for the diligent performing of his duties. __"What a cynical world I live in!" grinned Onisaburo while shuffling the money under his shirt.

      After he had resigned from his position at the Mitake-kyo, Onisaburo returned to Ayabe to settle down and pursue his activities in earnest. As soon as Onisaburo had returned to the Ryumon-kan, he called Yohei Shikata. "Yohei-han, please, do me a favor. I need some shopping to be done." Sumi added, "If it's for shopping, I am going to go too. I just have some time to do it." "It is difficult for you alone to buy what I want. It is a little too large for you." "Well, what is it?" asked Yohei. Onisaburo said, "I am looking for an old house which should be as large and as cheap as possible." Onisaburo threw a silver coin of fifty sen at Yohei. Yohei remained calm. Onisaburo said, "Now that I have resigned from the Mitake-kyo, I am going to buy an old house and add a grand hall to it. From now on the Ayabe district will become my castle. The visitors will begin to increase. If we remain in this narrow church we have now, we will not be able to admit the increasing numbers of visitors." "But the money?" Yohei looked at the coin over and over again. It was an ordinary coin. People could barely buy 5.4 liters of rice with such a coin. Onisaburo jested, "Well, anyway, this coin is all I have. Now that you understand my situation, you must start your search for the house, even if it requires you to walk until your legs become stiff. If you find a suitable house, use the coin to make a deposit. The remaining money will come one way or the other."

      To say the truth, Onisaburo had no money, at all. Up to now he had managed his way by charging the officers for the expenses of the cult and later he decided to bear all those expenses by himself. Onisaburo had been able to recruit rich believers such as Saijiro Yuasa and Ryujiro Yoshida and had accepted substantial offerings from them before. But, the more the expenses were growing, the more active he was becoming. Onisaburo who was acting without financial support, entertained the belief that the money would come to him some way or another as long as he kept working as hard as he could. Onisaburo shouted to Yohei, "Don't sit idle. Go and look for a house, right away." After Yohei left the room, as he was being driven away by Onisaburo, he said to Sumi, "In addition to the building of the grand hall, I will build a sanctuary at the end of next year. The founder will rejoice at that hearing." Everyone knew what had been written in the Fudesaki on the 2nd of May of the old calendar. All the members remembered it with great accuracy. The god Ushitora-no-Konjin who had appeared in the Meshima islets and had temporarily moved to the shrine on Mt. Misen, had gotten Himself out of His sacred Way. Already half a year had elapsed since the god had modestly ordered, "Build a shrine as quickly as possible, even if it is a crude one." Although that was the god Ushitora-no-Konjin's wish, it could not be fulfilled because the Deguchi family had exhausted all their resources and were relying on Sumi who had engaged in the manufacture of straw hats, at home. Despite all those adverse circumstances, Onisaburo was behaving as if he were ultimately confident of success.

      After Onisaburo had celebrated the New Year of 1909, he became absorbed in propagating the teachings of the cult, as its leader. On the 15th of February he founded a bulletin of cult entitled the "Chokurei-gun" (The Army Under the Direct Control of the Spirit), which was a booklet of eight B5-size pages and was printed by a company named "Ryoukin-sha". Although this is certain, it seems to be that the Ryoukin-sha could well have been installed in a room that belonged to Onisaburo. This bulletin had first been printed by the Komiya Printing Office in the Shimoyanagi district in Fukuchiyama, and after the third number, it had been printed by the Shiomi Printing Company in Nansei-cho, Ayabe. The name of the editor was started as Saijiro Yuasa, and the name of the publisher, as Fusataro Takehara. To say the truth only Onisaburo was engaged in the whole business of writing, printing, bookbinding, wrapping and distributing. Moreover, it seems to be that Onisaburo had written himself all the copies from the initial number to the fourth number. As a demonstration of this, suffice it to look at the titles of the articles: "the Message of the Publication" by Onisaburo Ueda, "The Leading Article" by Hakase Kudara (Doctor of the Country of Pai Bai Chi Ji), "A Faithful Record: A Pilgrimage to an Uninhabited Island" by Dojin Kinmei (A Taoist of Golden Light), each were pen names of Onisaburo. Even the essay and the article entitled "Ochiba-kago" (A Basket of Fallen Leaves) were written by Onisaburo.

      In the section on poetry of the Bun-en (the anthology) Saijiro Yuasa, Masukichi Konishi, Kokichi Ueda, Fusataro Takehara and Zenkichi Tanaka had each written a poem. It is probable that these poems had, in fact, been written by Onisaburo. In the bulletin, Onisaburo intended first to present the prophecies and the warnings of Nao to the world with explanatory articles, to make them understandable. The sentences of the Fudesaki, grouped under the title of "The Well of Heaven" were published serially in four installments starting with the ninth issue on February 10, 1910.

      __"The sacredness of the world is to be rebuild at any time, now. First, I must play the role of the god and reveal my words only to the Japanese people. To achieve this, I must publish the sentences of the Fudesaki as quickly as possible, to satisfy the sacred wish which animates you. You must report right away on what Deguchi is written now. If you don't do so, my work will be delayed. Hurry up in publishing." (August 23, 1900 of the old calendar)

      The god had expressed His wish of having the Fudesaki published in the newspaper as soon as possible. But, the articles of the Fudesaki which were reported were written in original hiragana (the cursive kana character) but had been blended, with confusing figures of Chinese characters.

      Why did the bulletin refrain from publishing the sentences of the Fudesaki after its fourth issue? In the publication: "Seventy years of the Omoto Chronicles" the following explanation is to be found: "Onisaburo seemed to have been very careful and prudent when he first published the original sentences of the Fudesaki. But, all the sentences of the Fudesaki were written in hiragana and it was hard to grasp their meaning; they also included numerals in Chinese characters. Onisaburo was quite worried that, as a result of this, dangerous misunderstanding of the Fudesaki could possibly occur. It was really not a problem if Onisaburo changed the numerals to other character of same pronunciation in Japanese and gives the Chinese character to hiragana. However, at that time, some old officers and believers started a subtle reaction against what Onisaburo was doing. It is probably a good bet, to suppose that Onisaburo was under heavy criticism for rewriting the sentences of the Fudesaki under, what they believed to be the influence of the evil god. It was, in fact, the reason why he was blaspheming against the God for what the grand god had dictated and Nao had written. It is said that he wanted to avoid useless and futile friction within the cult. Another reason may have been that he tried to avoid the displeasure of the authorities. In many of the sentences of the Fudesaki Nao was violently pointing at the injustices and the inconsistencies of society and she was quite directly criticizing the evils of the era. There were many severe expressions of such kind to be found in the Fudesaki.

      Since the Omoto cult had been founded in the remote Tanba district, it had, for several years, loudly been announcing "the building and the re-erecting" of the world and it was hoped that the printed organ would appeal to the people, much beyond what other cults could ever imagine or even expect. At the time the fifth issue of the "Chokurei-gun" was published, the pen name of Hanimaro Chiba had caught the readers' eyes. Chiba had been idle in the Mitake-kyo for a while. But, after he had been dismissed, he had been hanging around the Omoto cult with his wife, and he was depending upon Onisaburo for support. Finally, he ended up as a reporter for the bulletin the "Chokure-gun".

      __"The cult severely prohibited the use of magic in prayer, as well as fortune-telling and exorcism of evil or disasters. Onisaburo had asked him to look around and report on anyone who was officially practicing the cult and who called himself Shusai."

      This was an urgent injunction, that had been published in seventh issue of the "Chokurei-gun" (on November 10, 1909) and it was printed again in the ninth issue. A repeated warning published in both the eleventh and twelfth issues started that the practice called the "Chinkon-Kishin" which had been initiated by one of the branches, as well as the place that was used for it, were strictly prohibited. The Chinkun-kishin had been using magic to free people who were possessed by the supernatural in order to calm down their souls and restore the perfect serenity of their minds.

      __"The Omoto cult did not teach how to cure diseases. The Omoto cult did not allow the believers to imitate a doctor or a massage practitioner. Nevertheless, many believers were thrown into confusion and were praying for the cure of their diseases and while doing this they were forgetting the main teachings of the god. They misunderstood what the god meant in the universe. This sacred situation don't allow them to do such a thing in which they used to be. Each of them should always bear that in mind.(on the 1st of July 1899, according to the old calendar)"

      This was a warning which had appeared earlier in the Fudesaki. But, at the present time, the cult could not refrain from praying for the healing of diseases, because the proselytizers used these prayers to temporarily create interest in the cult. Most believers expected actual blessings from the god in their earthly life.

      At about the same time, Matsumoto Konishi, who was the father-in-law of Kimi, Onisaburo's younger sister, had arrived in Ayabe from the district of Utsu, and without consultation with anyone, he started acting as a Reverend, in front of the church. He gathered the believers and began to practice magic while supposedly being possessed by the supernatural. He also started to give instruction on the use of the medicine from the superior position that the Deguchi family had in cult. Nao, who was but one with the Fudesaki, was deeply disturbed by his behavior, and Onisaburo was worrying about the deterioration of their mutual relation. Onisaburo had not allowed the practice of magic while being possessed by the supernatural without express permission, because he feared that it could be done only for the fun of it. But, Konishi ignored his concerns. As a result, the believers ended up going to the church only for the purpose of healing diseases.

      As the cult was expanding rapidly, it was unavoidable that some undesirable persons would enter it. Moreover, Onisaburo thought that the door should be kept open to everybody, and many people became followers, only aiming at their own possible profit. There was no way to avoid that during that period of rapid expansion of the Omoto cult. Hanimaro Chiba, who had been recruited by Onisaburo, did now, in turn, attract Enryu Miyazawa to the Omoto cult. Miyazawa was a Shintoist who had been a Buddhist priest of the Hokke-shu (the Nichiren-shu). Miyazawa suggested to Onisaburo, "A lump of gold, worth two hundred million, had been buried in the ground of the Yoshida Village in Tochigi Prefecture. Let's dig it out and use it for the good of our country." In his youth Onisaburo had been absorbed in prospecting for manganese ore. And, as it is said that "The child is father to the man," he was still somewhat haunted by the spirit of the prospector. Onisaburo raised money and sent Miyazawa to the signaled place to dig out the gold, letting Zenkichi Tanaka and Masukichi Konishi in attendance of daily matters.

      There was some ground to make Miyazawa's story believable. A warlord of the Muromachi era, Ujitomo Yu-ki (1402-1441) had attempted to revive the power of the Ashikaga family of the Kanto district, and had been calling to his cause several other warlords to wage battle against the army of the Muromachi Shogunate. It was said, at the time, that Yu-ki had buried, for this purpose, a huge treasure in the Yoshida castle (Matoba castle), a small castle which belonged to him. This buried treasure remained over the years, the center of wild speculation. According to some old records, several notorious treasury hunters had been involved in the search for that treasure. They were listed as a certain Takeuchi, who was involved in digging in 1648, Yaemon and Sahei of the Edo district, who had tried in 1737, Magoemon who tried again in 1766. Shiraku Nakamura, ophthalmologist, who made a search in 1783, and a certain Nakamura and several others who had been involved in it in 1786. In addition to what was written in these records, an oral tradition remained, according to which Tadasuke O-ka, a town magistrate of the Tokugawa Shogunate had also attempted to find the famed treasure.

      A certain Shinohara, with the financial support of seven wealthy men, had attempted to dig for the treasure, using a steam pump and three thousand odd laborers-days in 1889, and later a certain Suzuki, who claimed that he had gotten a divine revelation attempted to do it, putting a bandage over his eyes and reciting a Shinto prayer, but, neither of them was successful. In the Taisho era (1912-1926), a certain Kumakura, who was a stock broker in Saitama Prefecture, tried a large scale operation which cost him between two or three hundred yen, a small fortune in those days, but he didn't find anything either. After the war the Ananai-kyo intended a search for it, using a mental detector but their work, gain, was in vain. It is said that even now, treasure hunters keep trying. Though Enryu Miyazaya tried to dig out the gold in 1905, he had to abandon his efforts because he ran out of money. However, he was determined to give it second try in the future.

      As the workers were digging deeper and deeper, the side of the hole began to crumble, and they had to reinforce it with wooden bars to stop the crumbling, then, when getting even deeper water started to ooze in but they carried on to the extreme limit of their possibilities. I will now transcribe several memorandums written by the military on those days:

      __On the 27th of February, at about 3 p.m., the workers started poking the soil with large iron bars. They continued to do so in three different places for twenty-eight days, but they did not report any finding. On the 1st of March, at about 5 p.m., the bar struck something. There were at the time about 5.4 meters below the surface of the water. On the 3rd, at about 4.30 p.m., they first dived into water to see what was there. On the seventh, they started work at about 8:30 a.m.. They were eight men and one more had been added the day before. Their names were as follows: Miyazawa, Tanaka, Konishi, Taka, Fuku, and two other men, as well as Naito and a man were the divers. Today, is the 11th, we are having fine weather. They began to work around 9 a.m.. They finished at about 5 p.m.. That at about 9 p.m.. Izawa, who was the owner of their lodgings and a common entrepreneur came and told several stories. One of the stories goes as follows; "I think that this time, they will not be able to dig out the gold, and that it is not appropriate to use the contribution of Shusaikai of the Tanba district for this failed attempt. As I feel quite sorry for the contributors, I'd like to return the money to the Shusaikai and to ask for the contribution of someone else." I knew that one of the new sponsors was a narrow-minded person and I was very surprised at hearing what Izawa was saying. The next morning, I noticed that everything was covered by snow. It seemed like a blizzard because the wind was very strong. That day, that is, on the 12th, they took a rest. At that time they thought that the god had gotten very angry and that He had created those severe conditions. On the 16th, the weather was fine. They started work at about 8 a.m., and finished at 5 p.m.. Many stories were told that night.

      Miyazawa had coaxed more than 1,000 yen out of Onisaburo, and he was already pressing hard for more. Moreover, after Onisaburo inquired about Miyazawa's use of the money, he found out that it had been used to cancel his personal debts. Onisaburo ordered Zenkichi Tanaka and Masukichi Konishi to get away at once. In the general news columns of the "Chokurei-gun" issued on March 10, 1910, several articles about the incident appeared; "Mr. Enryu Miyazawa, who is a special member of the Omoto cult, visited the Ayabe church on the 5th of last month, and addressed the crowd every day. But, on the 21st, he suddenly left for an undisclosed destination claiming that it was for a great undertaking, he was initiating with the help of Tanaka who was a secretary of the Omoto cult." Then, in the same column issued on April 10, the following appeared: "Although both secretaries of Tanaka and Konishi were on loan to the Tokyo districts, they have now returned to Ayabe for a while under pressure from the Headquarters' business office." These articles are tell-tailing about the situation in those days.

      Onisaburo laughed at the whole affair, thinking that he had again been deceived. But, the net result was that he had wasted above one thousand yen in times of considerable financial scarcity. That gave his opponents a good argument for blaming him. Hanimaro Chiba started a conspiracy aimed at the expulsion of Onisaburo. He almost immediately enlisted the help of Matsumoto Konishi, who was relishing Onisaburo's position in the cult.

      "He is insolent and I am going to put his courage to a test," said Onisaburo to Kokichi Ueda, as he left for Chiba's rented house with a katana (a Japanese sword) in hand. When he arrived, he entered the garden of the house, shouting loudly and cutting branches of the sakaki with his katana. "Hey, Chiba, come out. Although you are not capable of working properly, you still did such a thing, isn't that so? I can not allow you to go any further. I will cut you to pieces with this katana, do you understand?"

      Chiba thought that Onisaburo had run mad, and he hurriedly gathered his personal effects, wrapped them in a cloth, and hurrying up his wife, Kaneko, he ran away with her through the back door, stumbling over a stone. Chiba was a small man who had grown a short mustache, while his wife was a large and fat woman. It could be said that Chiba was by all means a little man with a big wife. Looking at their running figures, Onisaburo laughed loudly. "They are fools. If I had received a single word of apology from them, I would have allowed them to return, but, this fellow ran away before he even received his monthly salary."

      Matsumoto Konishi could not possibly remain in Ayabe, and so, he went back to Utsu. The son of Konishi, Masukichi who had leaned on the side of Chiba and Miyazawa, went back with them to Utsu, and once there, he initiated a revolt against the Omoto cult with the help of his father, Matsumoto Konishi. They were aiming at taking over the Omoto cult in collusion with Gennosuke Katayama, Hana Asai and some others, but they were unsuccessful and the movements were abolished and faded away.

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