Volume 12: The Way of Eternity
Chapter 7: The Seventy-five Days of Discipline
On the 22nd of July in the night, 1918, the women of Uwozu-cho, a fishing village in the Shimo-Shinkawa County, Toyama Prefecture, held a meeting to debate the problem of the rising price of rice, and
made the following public statement: "We are facing a poor catch season and cannot cope with the rising price of rice anymore. For that reason, we request an immediate halt of the shipments of rice to foreign countries. In the morning, the women gathered along the shore and called upon the property owners and the Uozu town office for help. As their movement was threatening public order, the police dispersed them. On the 3rd of August, at about seven o'clock in the morning, over three hundred women gathered on the shore of Nishi-Mizuhashi-cho, Naka-Shinkawa County. They divided into three groups and stormed the prosperous rice shops. They were shouting, "If things continue this way, we will die of hunger, don't ship rice to foreign countries, sell it to us at bargain prices instead!" Most of the town's people were fishermen who used to go fishing to Hokkaido and Sakhalin. But the catch had been poor that year and they could not return home. Instead they were forced to ask their wives for money to be able to return. Moreover, their wives salary, for menial jobs, was from ten to twenty sen a day while the price of one sho (1.8 liter) of rice was forty sen. It was a problem of life and death for them. Those events were alter reported in the whole country as the women's riot of Etchu (Currently, Toyama Prefecture).
Just after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), Japan was in a state of financial panic, because an excessive unbalance between imports and exports was making it impossible for the country to pay the interests on its foreign debt. As a result, the government decided to increase exports as much as possible and, while the First World War was coming to a turning point, Japan experienced an unprecedented boom of prosperity. Exportations had increased dramatically and Japan changed from being a debtor nation to being a creditor nation and it came to occupy a very high rank in the capitalist world hierarchy. However, the internal market was depleted and the excess of money supply derived from exportations invited new currency problems. The value of money felt abruptly while the price of goods skyrocketed. So, real income was growing extremely slowly. A new class of wealthy people emerged, but at the same time, the number of poor people was also increasing. The country was wealthy but the poorer part of the population was on the verge of starvation. Class antagonism increased and generated a high level of anxiety all through society. Although the price of rice remained high, it dropped abruptly in 1914, and stayed relatively stable for about three years. In 1917, it began rising again, quite abruptly, as the stock market was recovering and this inflicted a severe blow to the household economy of the common people. There were many reasons combining for the price of rice to go up because most of the peasants were now working in the minding and manufacturing industries creating the new prosperity of the post-war period. Many farmers had also shifted from wheat and rice production to silkworm rising, in order to increase their income. The consumption of sake also increased bringing about a new prosperity for the sake industry. At the same time rice imports were sharply decreasing since 1915, while at the same time massive amounts of rice were being shipped abroad. Adding to these obvious factors, was a sudden decrease of yield between 1917 and 1918 when national production hit its worst slump. Moreover, the rice merchants, expecting further price increases were withholding the rice in their warehouses, hoping to sell it later at a better price and thus creating an artificial scarcity. In September, 1917, the government emitted an edict to condemn excessive profits, but it had no effect whatsoever. The government ordered specific commercial firms, such as Mitsui-Bussan, Suzuki Shoten and others to import rice from the colonies and it offered to compensate them for their losses. The government also ordered them to purchase large quantities of foreign rice, but even so, the price did not drop and the profits went to the powerful businessmen who had strong connections with the political establishment. To give an example of what was happening, the price of unpolished rice in the Dojima district of Osaka, was fifteen yen per koku (about 180 liters) in January, 1917. It went up to twenty yen in July, and rose to thirty yen on the 1st of August, then, shortly later it went even up to forty yen per koku.
The woman's riot of Etchu was the expression of popular indignation and its message was: "To be arrested and jailed is better than to die of hunger!" The Asahi Shimbun in Osaka, in its issue of the 7th of August, reported several similar incidents in the following terms: "From the third to the fifth of this month the poor families of Higashi and Nishi Mizubashi-cho in the Naka-Shinkawa County, Toyama Prefecture staged riots and attacked rice shops to call the attention of the authorities on their desperate situation. This dangerous behavior may be spreading to the neighboring Namerikawa-cho. What had happened is that at midnight, the families of the poor fishermen had arranged to gather along the shore, then divided in separate groups and spread through town shouting and awaking people from their sleep. About three hundred people immediately joined them."
"At about thirty-five past twelve, the women paraded in Uramachi street (the back alley), and went to the house of Nizaemon Saito who was a wealthy landowner. They raised Saito and his family from their sleep and, prostrating himself before him, they begged him to sell rice at an affordable price. From there on, they went to the houses of several other people related to the problem and specifically called at the door of Soemon Kanagawa, who was a rice and manure dealer. Although more than ten policemen, including the chief of the Namerikawa police station, came rushing to the place and ordered them to disperse, they simply ignored their injunctions. In fact, they even defied the police shouting, "You have plenty to live on, but not us! Return home and go to bed!" The situation had turned quite serious and, on the next morning, the chief of the police station negotiated with the town office some relief measures for the affected families. The demonstrators were hardly satisfied, but dispersed at about five in the morning according to a telephone from Takaoka."
On the 5th of August, the price of rice rose to forty yen and fifty sen. On the next day, over one thousand townspeople from Higashi and Nishi-Mizubashi-cho as well as Namerikawa-cho obstructed the shipment of rice and forced the authorities to sell it at thirty-five sen per shou (1.8 liters), which was five sen cheaper than the current price given to the poor. The poor were defined as those who paid less than three bu (a-tenths of a sen) of town taxes. Then on the 9th the price went up again to over fifty yen per koku. On the 10th of August riots which broke out in Etchu (currently Toyama Prefecture) came to involve to people of Nagoya and Kyoto. On the day before, word had been circulated that a speech would be given in the Tsurumai Park. About four or five hundred people gathered in the Park to protest against the high price of rice. On the 10th, after sunset, a large crowd of over 10,000 gathered there and speeches were made on the stage of the Sogaku-do (the concert hall), by students, laborers, shopkeepers and people from all sectors. All those speeches stressed, "Chastise wickedness of the merchants who made undue profits on the suffering people! Down with the Terauchi Cabinet who had adopted the wrong policy!" A group of protesters ran to the Komeya-cho, throwing stones at police boxes, but they were soon dispersed to the police. Then, on the 11th the authorities of the city of Nagoya decided to sell a limited daily amount of Saigon rice at a price of twenty sen per sho at each ward office. The amount went from half a sho to a full sho per family according to the circumstances.
Coincidentally, another riot protesting the rice prices had broken out in Kyoto on the same day in the evening. More than four hundred people from the Yanahara district in Shimogyo Ward, stormed a large rice shop, which was the target of their grudge. They forced the door open, destroyed part of the house, and, through the mediation of the police forced the owner to offer a reduced price of five sen per sho. Their protest gained momentum and the crowd increased to about eight hundred demonstrators. Then, they divided into separate groups and forced every rice shop in town to advertise on their front doors, a price of thirty yen per sho for polished rice. The authorities of the Shichijo police station arrested eighteen people, but the crowd surrounded the Shichijo police station to have them released. Then, the military police was called in, but had great difficulty in controlling the situation, which finally calmed down around two o'clock in the morning. However, on the next day the situation in Kyoto looked threatening again, because over 20,000 citizens, who seemed to have come from nowhere, attacked the rice shops again. On the request of the Governor of Kyoto, the government dispatched additional riot police there to control the situation.
As the crowd assembled in front of the rice shops and threatened to destroy them, it succeeded in obtaining a special bargain sale of rice. Seeing that they had been successful, people in the Tokai, Kinki, Chugoku and Shikoku regions staged their own riots on the 11th. Then on the 13th, a mass meeting in the Hibiya Park in Tokyo, turned into another riot, for the same reasons, and the movement spread to the whole Kanto area. The cry of "Give us rice" echoed in all the country's largest cities. Finally, on the evening of the 13th, over 100,000 people rioted in Osaka and more than ten companies of soldiers were dispatched to the place to control what had become the largest riot of them all. In Kobe, the Suzuki Shoten, which was a licensed company, specializing in foreign rice import, was set a fire by the crowd. The Asahi Shimbun of Osaka reported those events in vivid articles.
"In Kobe, the situation had been tense since the 12th in the evening, when thousands of people started assembling, after seven o'clock in the Minatogawa Amusement Park. They started shouting their battle cry since the very beginning, and then, moved towards the Suzuki Shoten in 4-chome, Higashi-Kawasaki-cho and stormed the facility. The police was guarding the premises, but, by eight o'clock, the crowd had grown too large to be contained and they started throwing objects and breaking the windows. In the middle of the turmoil, a man climbed, along the gutters, to the upper floor of the building, smashed whatever stood in his way, then went down and opened the entrance. The crowd rushed into the house, while shouting their war cry. After throwing the account books all over the place and destroying whatever appliances and furniture they encountered, they set fire simultaneously in two different places of the building, which immediately was engulfed in flames. The Aioi-Bashi police station called in a fire brigade, which endeavored to control the fires but their efforts were fruitless. The building, which had formerly been the Miyako Hotel, was reduced to ashes. As the walls came crumbling down, the crowd shouted their slogan and applauded. There were other large buildings in the area, the Mitsubishi Bank, the meeting hall of the Kobe Bank, the Kobe Telephone Office, the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and industry. The whole neighborhood was thrown into confusion."
The newspapers were full of articles reporting those events and were blaming the government for the situation. The government censured the press starting, first, with prohibiting the publication of the Takaoka Shimpo (the Takaoka newspaper) on the 7th of August. On the 14th, at midnight, the government announced a general prohibition of publicizing any news related to the riots and saying that the government itself would publish the news related to that matter, "From the 15th on, all the newspapers were muzzled.
The Home Minister Mizuno stated the position of the government in the following terms: "What has been described as riots is due to the sharp increase in the price of rice, but the word riot is misleading, and its use is to be deplored. Those are not riots, but the expression of people's anxiety. However, there is a danger of having this demonstration spreading all over the nation, wave after wave. It started in the Kansai area, but it is now spreading to the Kanto area too. This is affecting law and order and as the Home Minister I cannot overlook these events. There was another riot of fishermen in the Toyama Prefecture. I did not mention it, but it had to do with an article published in a local newspaper. The paper had reported about earlier riots quite accurately, without exaggerating anything, but the article nonetheless became the fuse for new riots, although not as violent as the former ones, because the article expressed much sympathy for the people's position. However, the ultimate result was the disturbance of law and order and, as such, a sacrifice had to be made in the name of justice.
The director of the government agency in charge of maintaining law and order, Nagata made the following public statement: "We are, at present, investigating if the newspapers did instigate the riots or not. They publish whatever demonstration happens, sensational terms and use to make a mountain of the molehill. That, in itself, excites public opinion and leads to disturbances of public peace. That is why the government is prohibiting those publications and the authorities will take responsibility for informing the people to avoid idle guessing about the nature and magnitude of the events. From now on, the local government authorities will make the related public announcements. I have pondered this question carefully and have hesitated, up to this very day, to take such measures, but the situation has forced me to take this decision unilaterally and for all the newspapers in the country."
At the meeting of "Spring and Autumn Association" which were organized by the newspaper companies in Tokyo, had requested in the strong terms, the lifting of censure, but they had to wait until the 16th at three o'clock in the afternoon to get an answer. The Home Minister, Mizuno admitted the facts and was finally forced to suspend censure. However, from the 17th on, the riots started spreading from towns to villages in almost all the local areas. In addition, the workers of the Okinoyama Coal Mine Company in the Ube County, the Yamaguchi Prefecture, and those of the Mineji Coal Mine in Fukuoka, demonstrated to obtain higher wages. In Ube, a crowd of over a thousand miners and poor peope, destroyed the residence of a local coal-mine owner and stormed the rice and sake shops setting fire to the facilities of several licensed companies. Then, on the 18th, they resisted the action of the forces that were dispatched to control them, and 13 people were killed and several others were severely wounded by dynamite explosions.
The riots spread over the whole Yamaguchi Prefecture and the northern Kyushu area and got out of hand in more than ten places. The newspapers did their best to defend the freedom of speech and sought the impeachment of the Terauchi Cabinet. On the 17th, the leading newspaper-publishers of the Kinki area held an important meeting at the Osaka hotel. Nakanoshima district, Osaka, and on the 18th the reporters meetings were held in Yokohama and Fukui city, and in the Ishikawa Prefecture. Then on the 24th, another meeting was held in the Fukuoka district of Kyushu, and on the 25th the Kansai News papers and the News Agencies' great meeting was held at Osaka hotel, and 166 journalists from Nagoya for the northern area, Kagoshima for the southern area and others from the Hokuriku and the San'in areas attended that last meeting. The chairman of the president the Asahi Shimbun, Ryuhei Murayama, declared during that meeting: "The government has acted without regard to either peace or public interest. It has become the worst government in our history and has lost whatever credit it still had. This government has not even felt the need to apologize for its mistakes to the Emperor, although His Majesty has been very concerned about the fate and suffering of His people. The final declaration of the meeting was: "The Terauchi Cabinet must take responsibility for its bad administration and should speedily take a decision to end the present crisis."
The Asahi Shimbun made a full report of that meeting and subsequent declaration in its the evening edition of the 26th of August. But, on the other side, the government had now a perfect excuse to put pressure on the press. The news stated that representatives of several publishing company had made speeches. They included Shingo Takaishi of the Osaka Mainichi, Yaichi Uesugi of the Osaka Jiji and Kissen Kobayashi of the Nagoya Shimbun. Over ten speakers expressed their grudges about the tyranny of the Terauchi Cabinet. Their speeches were so incensed that they left the audience deeply shaken. After the meeting, they had dinner at about one o'clock in the morning, but most of them were unable to either eat or drink because their minds were too agitated. Is the perfect and great Japanese Empire going to face the Last Judgment or, isn't it? 'A white colorless rainbow has pierced the sun!' Since ancient times, people used to murmur that phrase as an ill omen coming down to earth like the forks of a lightning and the force of thunder'. The Terauchi Cabinet was quite displeased with the Asahi Shimbun, because the paper was playing a leading role in the movement towards democracy and that fatidic phrase had appeared in the paper. As a result, the Ministry of Internal Affairs placed the paper under police surveillance and finally prohibited its publication altogether. That fatidic phrase was, in fact, a quotation from a book called: "The Suyou History Book: The Biography of Chou Yang". According to that book, when a while, colorless, rainbow strikes the sun, dreadful events will happen. In China, of old, it meant war. The government asked the journalists who had quoted the phrase, if by the word sun, he meant the Emperor.
The Ministry of Home Affairs thought that it had now a very good argument to get rid of the Asahi Shimbun and, on the 9th of September, it gave secret instructions to the Osaka Public Prosecutor to bring charges against the Asahi Shimbun on the grounds of violation of the press law, profanation of the dignity of the Imperial Household, and instigating the disruption of law and order, the overthrowing of the government and so on.
The so-called "rice riots" continued throughout the country for another fifty days and finally ended at the Miike Cole Mine on the 12th of September. It was said that "the rice riots" had broken out in 268 locations in forty-one Prefectures, and that over one million people had taken part in them. In addition to that, the riots staged by miners had broken out in twenty-nine places, and the masses gathering were now looking increasingly threatening. Over 57,000 soldiers were dispatched to 107 different places. The judicial system acted with utter severity, arresting more than 10,000 people, prosecuting 7,700 and even sentencing two of them to the death penalty. However, the riots had no specific leader, as people were simply incensed by the news they read in the papers. The demonstrations had spread almost spontaneously and resulted from a combination of factors, such as the difficulties the people were facing to meet their basic needs, their natural antipathy of the wealthy and, maybe, even some influence from the Russian Revolution which broke out the year before.
Public opinion was especially critical of the despotic regime imposed by the Terauchi Cabinet, and the military clique that supported it, but finally public pressure forced the Cabinet to resign on the 21st of September. On the 29th Takashi Hara (the president of the Seiyuu-kai) formed a new Cabinet. Hara was a member of the House of Representatives but had no rank in the Court. When he became first Prime Minister in his capacity as a political party's president, the common people, who called him "The commoners Prime Minister", welcomed him.
In a related incident, the president of the Asahi Shimbun, Ryuhei Murayama, who had been indicted for the publication of an article criticizing the Terauchi Cabinet was attacked by Hirotoshi Ikeda and some other members of the Kokuryu-kai (The Black Dragon Party, an ultra rightist faction) in the Nakanoshima Park on the 18th of September (the day before the resignation of the Terauchi Cabinet). They tied him to a stone lantern and placed a paper banner on him which read: "We have taken over the duty of Heaven to punish the traitor Ryuhei Murayama."
Some prominent right-wingers such as Mitsuru Toyama, Ryohei Uchida, Yasugoro Sasaki and some of their partners were convinced that in order to protect the national polity it was necessary to get rid of the unpatriotic Asahi Shimbun. At the trial of the so-called "White Rainbow Affair" the prosecutor sought to obtain a total ban on the publication of the Asahi Shimbun in Osaka. However, at the same time the newspaper announced a total revamping of its headquarters: The president, Ryuhei Murayama resigned, being replaced by Riichi Ueno who took office on the 10th of October. The chief editor, Teruo Torii (another name for, Sosen Torii) retired on the 16th of October, another editor, Manjiro Hasegawa (also called, Nyozekan Hasegawa) retired on the 18th of October 18 and several reporters such as, Ikuo O'yama, Kanji Maruyama, and Daigoro Hanada were relieved of their post at their own request on the 22nd of October). Two members of the board of trustees, Hajime Kawakami and Soichi Sasaki also retired. Those changes were published in a four-column article on the Front page under the title: "The Asahi Shimbun expresses it sincere desire to abide by the principles of the press law". That article amounted to a formal apology. Two clays later, that is, on the fourth of December the court sentenced to members of the editorial staff, Nobuo Yamaguchi an editor, and Toshio Onishi a reporter to two months imprisonment on the accounts of instigation to disturb public peace and violating the press law. However, the ban on publication, requested by the prosecutor was not granted. Nonetheless, the Prime Minister Hara, who was also Minister of Justice kept feeling quite uneasy about the Asahi Shimbun.
On the 8th of December Takashi Hara, wrote in his diary:
"During the preceding government period the Asahi Shimbun published articles tending at disturbing public peace and infringed the Constitution. The public authorities requested a publication prohibition but the company reorganized its whole staff, replacing Ryuhei Murayama by Riichi Ueno, changed its editorial policy and improved its behavior. For those reasons the public prosecutor could not obtain the closure of the newspaper and only to prison sentences of two years each were given to an editor and a reporter. As the newspaper has changed its attitude the Vice-Minister of Justice will not appeal the verdict.
However, the government cannot be satisfied with the publication of what amounted to an apology and considered the problem too serious to be left as it was. So the government sought a confirmation of the real intentions of the newspaper and sent a telegram to the new president of the Asahi Shimbun requesting him to make contact as soon as possible with the authorities. He immediately went to Tokyo and called on the residence of the Prime Minister the following morning. He explained that the Vice-Minister of Justice, Suzuki. Ueno had repeatedly complained to the former President of the Asahi Shimbun, Mr. Murayama about the contends of the paper but that he did not pay any attention to those warnings. He even said that in the process of revamping the staff Mr. Murayama had sought to liquidate the company altogether. So, I told him that the behavior of thousand of people depended on what we were publishing and I tried to persuade him to change the publishing policy. I also told him that we should abandon the old principles, and clearly state the new ones. That we should not make the same mistakes again in the future and check those of our reporters and editors who say that they are acting under the company's orders while, in fact, they are only stating their personal opinions. Moreover, we should accept the sentences of the Court and not make any appeals to the higher courts. I also requested that the whole editorial staff was to be clearly informed of the way the Vice-Minister of Justice views the situation and should abide by that view. If all those measures were taken I am confident that the Asahi Shimbun problem will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion."
Although Takashi Hara was called "the commoner's prime minister", he governed along the same lines as the Terauchi Cabinet and was quite keen in suppressing radical speech and press. He was, however, to provide the Omoto cult with some great satisfaction after being in office for only two years. After the Asahi Shimbun abandoned the use of the pen as a sword against authority it agreed, with the government that it was too late to call for general elections in 1919 and clearly supported the governments decision. But, in the following year, the company reversed course again and published articles calling for an immediate popular election while strongly criticizing the government for carrying out a strong armaments policy when the universal tendency was towards disarmament or at least towards the reduction of armament production. The editors, reporters and staff members who had left the Asahi Shimbun after the so-called "white rainbow affair" formed a new company "The Nichichi Shimbun" with the help of a wealthy Osaka merchant, Chubei Katsumoto, and they Intended to make it a stronghold of free press. They named as president Baron Yoshiro Fujimura who was a member of the House of Peers, and Sosen Torii, former chief editor of the Asahi Shimbun and, Daigoro Hanada, Kanji Maruyama, Takanobu Murobuse, Suekichi Aono, Mosaburo Suzuki and others, who were all leading journalists, made up the main staff of the editorial section. That company had a capital of two million yen, while the Asahi Shimbun had only a capital of one and a half million yen and the Mainichi Shimbun had even less with one million two hundred thousand. It meant that from the very day of its inauguration it became a formidable enemy for its two older competitors.
People were quite eager to read the first issue of the new newspaper which came out on The 25th of November, 1919. But the Nichinichi Shimbun faced much difficulty in breaking through the distribution network of its older competitors and it ran soon into financial difficulties. Finally, after less than a year of operation the company had to be sold. Onisaburo Dcguchi took advantage of the situation and bought the Taisho Nichinichi Shimbun. It was quite unusual for a religion sect to own a newspaper which daily issued both a morning and an evening edition. This situation was certainly a premiere in Japan. Moreover, several members of the staff, such as Sosen Torii, who had been involved in the "white rainbow affair" joined the camp of the Omoto cult and started writing and talking about the re-erecting of the world. They literally rang the alarm bell according the prophecy of the Fudesaki. All this surprised the public very much and it also had a considerable influence on the Hara Cabinet. I will later describe in detail how this led to the first persecution of the Omoto cult by the government.
On the 17th of August in the afternoon violent riots erupted all over the country. While Onisaburo was amusing himself talking with Jinsai Yuasa, Wasaburo Asano and Tenko Tomokiyo entered into his room and saw that, save his loin clothes, he was naked. Their sudden appearance did not seem to please him much but Tomokiyo who seemed also somewhat irritated, said anyway: "Reverend, excuse us for interrupting you, but we have some urgent business to deal with. Is that OK with you? What I wrote in the Asahi Shimbun, telling people to take notice of the falling leaves in the autumn of the world seems to have been very well received. The report on Ayabe, published the following week, was also very good but now those rice riots have erupted. I am going to take advantage of the situation to reprint the September 1st issue of "Shinrei-kai (The Spiritual World)" because many readers have requested it. Although Tomokiyo had been in Ayabe for only a very short time he was already the chief editor of "Shinrei-kai"; and after his publishing the afore mentioned article "Take notice of the autumn of the world and the falling leaves" his reputation had rapidly spread all over the Omoto cult. Onisaburo asked Asano: "What is your opinion, Asano-han?" But Tomokiyo answered instead, and said: "I have his approval already" "Well" said Onisaburo. "If you have his approval there is no problem." Onisaburo suddenly looked quite tired and Asano threw in some words to break the silence: "I have not yet received my copy of the 'Omoto Sacred World' and I would like to get it as soon as possible because, if not, it will be too late to see it before the printing of the September 1st issue, starts." Onisaburo suddenly interrupted him and said: "I forgot to tell you that I did not write anything for that number, but instead I urge you to read, in the "O-barai-Norito-kai" magazine, an article which title is "The Understanding of the Purified Shinto Prayer" which was written by Asano and published on in the first page of that magazine. If you add that article to the writings of Tomokiyo, you will easily fill a whole page."
Asano and Tomokiyo were clearly unhappy with that suggestion. It seemed like if the end of the world was drawing near. The political confusion was similar to the times when Japanese troops were sent to Siberia or when the rice riots shook the whole country. The urgent need to start at once the rebuilding and re-erecting of the world was all but too evident. During those Limes of general turmoil, even the officials of the cult were somewhat confused and the leader used now to indulge in idle talk about the situation. So they all felt that their primary duty was to publish the Sacred Words of the Omoto, but they were worried that the leader might have forgotten them because he had not written anything for the next issue of the magazine. So, Asano said in a casual tone: "I can not publish the magazine without including the Sacred Words of the Omoto, you know" I will wait until you write them and forward the copy to us. I will instruct the staff member to wait a little before starting the printing of the next issue and meanwhile leave some open space in the page to insert the Sacred Words when we receive them. Onisaburo answered: "No. I am not going to write anything. From tomorrow on, I am going to practice asoeticism and confine myself to my bed for seventy-five days. "What kind of asceticism is that?" asked Yuasa with much interest. "Well" said Onisaburo. "I will remain in bed and sleep all day long for seventy-five days in a row". Asano looked amazed and asked him: "Is that your way of practicing asceticism?" Onisaburo looked at him with mischievous eyes and answered: "You know, if a healthy person remains in his futon during the heat of the day', for seventy-five days, his health will deteriorate and his body will decay" Yuasa groaned, "Oh, well that is one." Onisaburo continued: "None of you will be allowed to see me during that time because I will not leave my room. Asano sincerely thought that it was not necessary for him to do this at such an important time and asked him: "Reverend, you have practiced asceticism very much and are well trained but why do you confine yourself to your bed just now?" Onisaburo answered: I will not be able to cross the great pass while my soul is struggling in dimness. I need to do the third great washing of my soul now". "The third great washing?" said Asano. Onisaburo continued: "Yes, the third great washing. I concluded the first great washing when I was age 28 while practicing asceticism for a week on Mt. Takakuma and that brought me near Ayabe. Then I was ordered again to practice asceticism for another ten years. After that my soul became a crystal washed by the sacred water pouring from the god's mind and gradually the god started using me for the Sacred World. Then, at age 38, I settled in Ayabe and I was given a pupil. That pupil was Yuasa-san." "Yes, I remember that," said Yuasa. "Time is passing by all to fast, ten years have already elapsed since then." Master and pupil looked at each other with a feeling of fullness in their hearts.
Since then Onisaburo had instructed several superiorly gifted pupils such as Asano and Tomokiyo but it was still Yuasa to whom Onisaburo could bare his mind without restriction and whom he could even scold without feeling any anxiety about it. For instance, Nobuyuki Umeda felt the warmest friendship for Onisaburo but he considered him less important for the cult than the founder Nao. In fact, every believer saw Onisaburo with different eyes and applied the same yardstick to him and to Nao. Only Yuasa had no restrictions about Onisaburo and he followed him blindly as a cub would follow his mother. But, after ten years Onisaburo was hungry for the appearance of a new pupil.
The deep emotions which naturally build up between master and pupil did not seem to affect Asano, as he said to his master: "Why do you not start your ascetic practices tomorrow, after writing and giving us a copy of the Sacred Words of the Omoto to be printed in the next issue of the magazine?" "Well" said Onisaburo. "Tomorrow is my forty-eight birthday and the god has ordered me to start the washing of my soul from that day on. It was, indeed, the 18th of August (the 12th of July in the old calendar) and that was the birthday of Onisaburo. Asano blushed because he had forgotten it. Onisaburo ignored his reaction and continued: "I told you that I will confine myself to my bed, but even while I am lying down, I will continue the great sacred work". Asano did not answer. "Swarms of unsaved souls of soldiers who were killed in the war are thronging around the founder and don't you think that I should protect her from that? I will undertake this task alone but it will wear out my flesh!" All remained silent and Onisaburo, lowering the tone of his voice continued: "And, as if that alone was not enough, the evil foxes, covered with nine brushes of golden feathers are taking advantage of this to invade the Omoto cult aiming at reaching the founder. They are aiming at subduing the founder's spirit because they have a natural propensity at aiming at the chief woman leader. We have to be vigilant in order to thwart their plans. I will use their evil habits against them and capture them in my body while lying on the futon." Asano then asked him. "But what of your body? Is it not possible that they will take over your body during the time you remain hidden?" Onisaburo answered, "It sure is possible. As a matter of fact, I have a bad experience about that and I know that my flesh will be suffering from the battles that are going to occur in it. But those rascals will not be able to get away with it and that is why I am going to bind myself to my bed. Yuasa said in one breath, "The Reverend is right! The time has surely arrived for him to make the foxes covered with nine brushes of golden feathers mend their way. I certainly believe that!" Onisaburo said, "No, I cannot force the foxes to mend their way by only such a trifling exercise. Now that the world, and Japan in particular, is exhausted, the foxes will occupy the whole planet, if the situation drags on. My purpose in tying myself to my bed is to give the world a respite in that struggle and when I am finished with the washing of my soul, I will be able to take on the struggle against ten million or even hundred millions of dragons without any fear." "Oh, you certainly are taking on the sacred work with body and soul," said Yuasa respectfully bowing his head. Tomokiyo and Asano looked at each other and thought that they were going to burst into laughter at any moment while listening to this unlikely story, but they kept studying the pleasure that Onisaburo was getting out of this idle talk because he continued to smoke leisurely while telling it.
Asano took a deep breath and said, "Well, we will do our best to go ahead with the publication during those seventy-five days of your ascetic practices. Nonetheless, it remains a pity that we will not be able to publish any sacred words in the three issues to be printing during that period." Onisaburo answered, "Asano-han, it can not be helped this time you can yourself select, from the Fudesaki, the phrases to be published in the next number. Asano could not believe that Onisaburo could talk so lightly about such important matters because, first of all, it was difficult to select the phrases from the voluminous Fudesaki and then to decipher them and rewrite them in an easily readable way. That difficult operation was specifically the duty of Onisaburo but he said to Asano, "Don't worry! You will do it better than myself and, after all, you will do it for only seventy-five days."
It tickled Asano's pride as a Bachelor of Arts. Let us take an example to illustrate the task he was facing. For instance, a passage written in hiragana which had been re-written in Kanji meaning: "As I became the god I played His role and took care of every nook and corner" could have been interpreted in several other ways. The reason being that in Japanese, many words are homophonic, and hiragana only gives an indication of the sound of words, while kanji conveys their meaning. Thus, a phrase written in hiragana can be interpreted in many ways according to the interpretation of the homophonic words. For instance, a word sounding as "Kami" may mean either "god" or "the upper part" or "defend and protect" or "the chief", "the president" and so forth, because all those words are homophonic. Stretching the meaning somewhat, it can even be understood as "guardian deity", "angel", "newspaper", "master", "Tenno", or "Prime Minister". The word "Yaku", for instance, can be understood as "a position", "a duty", "misfortune", "a drug", "burn", "being jealous", "a translation", "a plague or epidemic", "divination or fortune-telling" and so on. Stretching the meaning somewhat it can be understood as "an executive", "a promise", "an appointment", "a mission", "a province", "an accident". While Chinese characters are combined their meaning also may vary according to the context. So, everyone can interpret the text according to his own ability and culture. As a result, the Sacred Words of the Omoto can be understood at several levels of depth according to the reader. For that reason, the Sacred Words of the Omoto are believed to be the eternal Bible of the Omoto cult. Considering what has been said above, once the Sacred Words of the Omoto are published in the Shinrei-kai magazine, the people who read them will stick to the interpretation and meaning of the kanji the writer has been using. That is why the responsibility of the writer, in this case Asano, was so heavy. Furthermore, while hearing what Onisaburo was saying, Asano thought that it might have been better to use different kanji than those used by Onisaburo. Later, that is, from February 1918 on, the number of issues of theShinrei-kai was doubled from once a month to twice a month because both the internal and external state of affairs were reaching a breaking point. Ultimately, it might well have been a good opportunity for Asano to replace Onisaburo for seventy-five days as the interpreter of the Fudesaki. Asano was now looking forward to that opportunity. Yuasa changed the topic of the conversation and asked: "What are we going to do with the great autumn festival?" Onisaburo answered, "I will start my ascetic practices on the 18th of August and will conclude them on the 21st of October. The great autumn festival will begin in November so it will be necessary to place and announcement in the Shinrei-kai informing people that the festival is being postponed for some reasons in the Sacred World." "I am going to take a walk now in the sacred precincts to have a last look at them, for a while."
At eight o'clock, on that same evening, Onisaburo went by boat to the Kami-shima (the god's islet) on the Kinryu-kai (the Golden Dragon Sea). It was an artificial islet in the center of the large pond, which had been built in the precincts of the Omoto cult. He took only one attendant with him, Tomegoro Inoue, who was forty-four years old, was a doctor, and had visited the headquarters of the cult, in Ayabe, for the first time, only the day before. He was from Matsne. After praying to the god, enshrined in the O-Yashima Shrine (Japan's Shrine) on the Kami-shima Onisaburo slowly rowed around the Kinryu-kai. Inoue was sitting in the boat straight and kept politely looking at him. Inoue had a gentle and slender face, with whiskers from cheek to chin. He looked somewhat like a model for the advertisement of the Daigaku-Megusuri (The Eye Lotion from the University). Onisaburo was standing in the boat looking like a large earthen figure reflecting its shadow in the moonlight. The two kept silent while the boat was slowly moving forward. Onisaburo said, "I am going to be in bed for seventy-five days from tomorrow on. The god ordered me to do so and you do not have to worry about me. However, a few people will get involved in my exercises and will be present around me. I am asking Inoue-han to stay here for a while." This was a totally unexpected request from Onisaburo. Inoue answered, and decided at once to cancel his scheduled trip to Tokyo. He said, "Yes, I will stay until the end of this month, but in what way will I be involved in your ascetic practices?" Onisaburo said, "It is a cold. Bad colds are now raging throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to die. That epidemic will soon reach Japan. It is the expression of very powerful evil spirits who are going to attack us. I must capture the leader of those spirits and confine him to my body. Despite doing so, those evil fellows will storm the country and spread the germs all over the nation. Hinoue-han, talking about those evils spirits will not subjugate them, and I feel that I must get at the spirit, which governs their bodies. While the body gets fever and overheats it might kill the germs, but that alone, will not allow it to recover completely. I must attempt to purify the world of the throngs of evil spirits, which wish to take advantage of our weakness. I am committed to fight those spirits and, although they will still kill, many people I intend to save us from their evil doings. That is the purpose of my ascetic exercises."
Inoue had been one of the members of the party, which had gone to Matsue for missionary work in June of last year. If he had heard Onisaburo's story at that time, he would have burst into laugher Tomegoro had contracted diphtheria at the age of nine and barely escaped death. At the time of his sickness, his father had visited both the Izumo Taisha and the Takeuchi Shrine in the Hachiman village, and vowed that if his son escaped death, he would help him dedicate his life to helping others. Tomegoro engaged in the study of medicine and despite adverse conditions obtained his license at the age of twenty-third. He also studied German at a school in Tokyo and entered the department of special studies, in medical school, at age of twenty-five. After graduating, he returned to his hometown and founded the Inoue Hospital for internal diseases.
When an emergency occurred, Inoue would rush on horseback to the place where the patient needed assistance. On those occasions, people would point at him saying, "Here goes the doctor again rushing to an emergency on horseback". He rapidly gained the people's confidence for his devotion to his patients and his superior up-to-date medical knowledge. Inoue had first learned about the existence of the Omoto cult, through the publications of the Suisei (the Comet) and the Shinrei-kai (The Spiritual World), which had articles on the Kodo-Omoto (The Imperial Way of the Omoto) when he was in Matsue, but he had been unable to attend Wasaburo Asano's lecture because he was busy attending his patients. However, he asked a friend, Fujii, to attend the lecture instead so he could have an idea of its contents. Fujii had a doctor's degree in Chinese philosophy and the study of the opposite principles of Yin and Yan. Fujii sympathized with what Asano had said and returned from the conference full of admiration for him.
On the next day, Inoue visited the Matsue Branch Office of the Omoto cult and met Wasaburo Asano. He met four or five of his own patients at the Branch Office, which embarrassed him somewhat. His patients were also surprised and asked in disbelief, "Doctor, do you also come here?" However embarrassed he might have been, his embarrassment was brought to naught by the Calming Down of the Soul, which Asano performed on him. Inoue knew quite a lot about hypnotism and even used it in some cases with his own patients, but he saw immediately that the Calming Down of the Soul was not hypnotism. For the next ten days Inoue went every evening, uninvited, to the house of Asano were he learned about the unfolding world Asano was introducing him to. Then after remitting his patients to the care of his assistant, he took the train and went to Ayabe. He had the pleasure of being introduced to the founder, on the next morning, and was deeply moved by the experience. Inoue was now convinced of the power emanating from the invisible world.
Inoue said, "Every year since my graduation from Tokyo University, I have attended the Annual Conference of the Japanese Medical Association. I was proud of Japanese medical science because Japan was called the Germany of the East. But, I have been treating patients for twenty-one years now, and have become desperate with the impotence of our medical science to cure diseases. I thought that it might have been a lack of learning on my part and repeatedly considered that question carefully, but I am now convinced of the extraordinary power of nature to cure what medical science is powerless to do. I think now that what doctors ought to do is simply to support natural recovery process. The ability of recovering naturally from disease is inherent in every human being as Buddha clearly stated. For many years, I have vaguely felt the reality of such a possibility but now, facing the powerlessness of medical science to protect human beings against the devastating flu epidemic, I understand that that flu can only be prevented by the way of the "Flesh Leading to the Soul Onisaburo gave Inoue detailed instructions concerning the medical treatment covering that particular point. Then three of them, including a colonel by the name of Onosuke Komaki, who had been practicing asceticism in the house near the west gate, chatted until one o'clock in the evening utterly forgetting about how late it had become.
On the 18th of August which was his 48th birthday, Onisaburo, accordingly to what he had said, began his ascetic practice called "The Binding to the Bed". He made a believer prepare a bed in the back room of a two-room building. That room had, in former times, been used by the founder and had a passage connecting it with the old sanctuary. He shut himself up in that room, without food, and refused to see anyone. He did, however, answer friendly inquiries about his health by good hearted people such as Naoko Okazaki, Etsuko Hoshida and some others, who had made the journey from Osaka to see him. According to Sumi's judgment, he was really suffering a lot in that bed. He used to groan and his face was flushed. On the sixth day of his practice, that is on the 23rd, in the evening, Sumi who was standing outside the fusuma with her child, Aioi in her arms, called Onisaburo from behind the fusuma and said, "The Reverend, Omon Sasaki-san is here to visit you. I told her that the Reverend would see no one, but she insisted that there was also a person who came all the way from Shikoku and she wishes by all means to see you. What should I say? If I send them to the reception, they will certainly say that the Reverend is not seeing anyone. Couldn't you just grant them a brief appearance or at least let them meet some member of the Deguchi family?" Mon Sasaki, was forty-seven at the time. She was born in the 0-zu district of Ehime Prefecture, and worked as a parlor maid at a place selling "beef boiled in water". The name of that place was lroha and it was located in the Matsushima gay quarters of Osaka. But she had become mentally disturbed and was brought to the Omoto cult by Naoko Okazaki. As she soon recovered her balance, she became a most earnest worshipper of the cult. Oisaburo raised his body and sat cross-legged on his futon. "Oh, she has brought someone with her, the O-Mon-fox! Okay, show her into the room." He always used to call her by this intimate nickname. Sumi said, "Very well, but the guest accompanying O-Mon-san is but a mere child". Onisaburo did not answer but he extended his arms and took Aoi from Sumi's arms. "What is Suminoe (his sixth daughter) doing?" "She is still asleep," answered Sumi. "Oh, well, well," said Onisaburo, while smiling gently and amusing Aioi, poking at her soft infant cheeks. Aioi and Suminoe were twins. They had started eating normal food on the 19th of July and since then had grown up uneventfully. Sumi also joined Onisaburo playing with their child. She loved the angel-like smile of Aioi. But Onisaburo interrupted her and asked her to show the guests in. A young boy, called Isao Saga, respectfully presented himself as he entered the room. Onisaburo greeted him cheerfully and asked: "Is this the boy whom Saga-san brought with her? Very well! How old are you?" But before the boy could answer, Mon interrupted him and said, "He is a wise boy of sixteen and he is the president of his class at a school of commerce in the Yahatahama district." The boy was handsome, with a round face and a gentle expression. His eyes were bright but he had grown thin lately and looked weak. Sumi, sitting beside Onisaburo, asked him about his journey and seemed quite interested in taking great care of his feelings. Mon, on the other side, kept talking garrulously.
After the guests had left, Onisaburo returned, Aioi, who had fallen asleep to Sumi and lighted a tobacco. "O-Sumi, do you know what date it is today?" "It is the 23rd of August, I think. Why?" "On the 23rd of August in the old Japanese calendar, that is, in 1898, I first came to Ayabe and visited the founder who was living in Isuke's warehouse in Ura-machi. Although the new calendar is different from the old one, it still remains true that I first visited the founder just this very day twenty years ago. I think that there is a mysterious relation there." Sumi asked, "Why do you think so?" He answered, "It is that child. I got a new pupil, with difficulty, in the tenth year since receiving Jinsai Yuasa." "But why that child?" The fusuma was suddenly pulled opened and Hisa Fukushima appeared. "Reverend!" she said. "We heard that you have been in bad condition for quite a long time now. The news was reported in the Yagi district and the stupid officials now came running here inquiring about your condition. I wired Hoshida-han, who went back to Osaka. But, as far as I can see, you seem to be in good health despite abstaining from food." "I feel like if, after falling on a garbage dump, I attempted to sit up again but I am still numb and in bad condition. My head is throbbing with pain and I feel confused. Onisaburo lied down again. Fukushima said, "I heard that as soon as the rice riots were over, this cold epidemic started raging all over the country. I think that, as the leader of the Omoto cult you ought to reflect on that pitiful state of affairs and realize that it is god's punishment for your bad behavior. O-Sumi-san, you don't need to stand up this time, I myself, Hisa Fukushima are going to explain to you the deepest aspects of the origin of the world. I am the shadow of the Giri-Tenjo-Hinode-no-kami (The Sunrise-God of the Earnest Heaven), and the god Tokoyo-Hime is staying in my flesh, please, be aware of that! Listen carefully to what I have to say and it will drive the plague away from your flesh." He seized Sumi by her sleeve and forced her to sit down on Onisaburo's bedside.
A narrow path led to a place, a little West of Nishi-Ishinomiya, where Yoshihito Mori and Hanayo Yamaue had made their sweet home, keeping a konjak flour paste shop. Besides it was a smith's shop kept by Motonori Nishida. As Motonori was the teacher of Mon Suzuki, she was planning to stay at his house. The house had two rooms of six tatamis but in the remaining part, where Motonori kept his tools, there was a simple earth floor, as befits a smith's house. It was said that the wife of Motonori was the younger sister of Onisaburo. She was a middle-aged woman who looked always rather nervous. Isao was deeply impressed by Motonori's story of the way faith had affected Kishuu (currently Wakayama Prefecture) and asked to sleep with Motonori that night. Isao's heart was filled with deep emotion at the thought that, despite all the difficulties, he could now close his eyes knowing that he was there lying besides Motonori. Isao had been born on the 15th of January, 1903, in Tokiwa-cho, O-su Village in Ehime. He was the eldest son of a fish merchant called Kamekichi and his wife Shinayo. His father had died when he was only eight and his mother had to bring him as well as his elder sister Tomoe, who was twelve at the time all by herself.
Kamekichi had been a kind, good-natured man who cared for others. He had been the representative of the parishioners at the Tutelary Deity Shrine, had been the captain of the fire brigade and had shown considerable interest in taking care of the elderly in his village. That was indeed very rare in those times. But, as he had been quite liberal with his money he left considerable debts behind him after his death. However, the people of the village felt much sympathy for him and they organized a mutual financing association, which helped his wife Shinayo, who had been managing a small hotel and a little caterer's shop as a side business while her husband was still alive. Shinayo was a very active woman and she asked for help only when she could not manage things alone by lack of servants. She even built a three-story house in the O-su district. Due to the difficulties his mother was facing, Isao gave up studying after junior high school and had only his first grade of elementary school. He was rather weak and was persuaded that he would only live until age twenty. So he wanted to help his mother as much as he could, while he was still alive.
One day the teacher in charge of leads class said to him, "An entrepreneur who owns a mine in Manchuria and who is a native of our county has asked me to recommend five of the best students to him. He wants them to study commerce at a good school because he wants to use them to launch a new business in Manchuria in the future. I would like to recommend you" Isao answered, "I will try to graduate as soon as possible from that school!" but his teacher answered, "No, you must first consider the circumstances which surround you and consult this with your mother." On the same evening Isao consulted with his mother who said in an affectionate tone, "I-chan (the nickname she used to call him by), that is a very good opportunity. I am able to support myself alone now and I also happen to be able to count on the help of a man named Mine." As Isao's realized how much his mother was devoted to him his heart broke down. As Isao had become the president of his class several times and had been hailed as a model student he was able to enter the Yahatahama School of commerce through the commendations of both his schoolmaster and some influential people in town. But in order to tell the circumstances surrounding Isao's first visit to Ayabe we must go back to 1907. His father Kamekichi was still alive at that time. After the festival of the Sosha-Daimyou Shrine, in which the guardian gods were enshrined the caretakers of the parishioners gathered and drank sake at the shrine's office. In the middle of the party Kamckichi went outside to urinate in the bush located behind the shrines office, and while doing so his eyes caught a strange object lying at the root of a bamboo tree. It was a mummified white snake, which lied coiled on itself but with its head raised. He picked it up with a piece of paper and brought it to the shrine's office. The caretakers immediately said, "That is the respectable Dragon God. Let us keep it here".
There was as story according to which the shopkeeper of a poor soy shop named Tatsumi, in Kajita, in the Osu district, had found a mummified snake in some salt. He enshrined it believing that he was the Dragon God and became very prosperous. That snake was very similar to the snake Kamekichi had found. "This was found in the precincts of the shrine and it belongs to the shrine." Even the Shinto priest of the shrine asserted his rights to it. Kamekichi was usually indifferent to gain, but this time, however, he did not grant their request and said, "Some of you also when to that place to urinate, but no one besides myself noticed the presence of that mummified snake. It is thus clear than the god intended it to be seen by me alone. He took it with him to his house and, not knowing how to enshrine it, he placed it in a box of paulownia wood and left the box in the back room upstairs. Three years later Kamekichi died. In 1915, a younger sister of Shinayo, who lived in Wakamiya in the O-su district, came to visit her and told her, "A woman named Mon Sasaki, who had gone to Osaka to work, has become a fervent believer of the Omoto cult. She has now returned to the O-Su district to work at propagating the principles of the cult. I have heard that the number of believers around her has increased dramatically! O-Mon-san knows very well how to enshrine a sacred object and I have asked her to come here to enshrine the Dragon God Kamekichi kept here." "Was it my fault that my husband had died young?" Was it because Shinayo had not enshrined the Dragon God properly?" Shinayo asked herself. She was anguished by such questions and was quite eager to have Mon Sasaki come to her house, at once. As soon as Mon entered Shinayo's house she shouted, "Give me water, my throat is scratching." Then, she sat down in front of the Dragon, which had been placed in the tokonoma (an alcove). Mon was evidently possessed by a mysterious power and, as she kept talking to herself, she drank several cups of water and finally drank even a large bowl of it. After she came out of her trance Mon said to Shinayo, "You did not even offer a cup of water to the Dragon God". Shinayo answered, "I do not know how to enshrine and serve the Dragon God. That is why I didn't do it." "That is very bad! You should make a pond in the garden and enshrine the Dragon God there." Shinayo made the pond, right away, and enshrined the god there. Moreover, Mom advised her to go the Ayabe and visit the church where the god Konjin was enshrined. At that time the daughter, Kameichi had from his first wife and who had recently lost her own husband, arrived for a visit. Shinayo asked her to take care of her house while she was going to Ayabe. Shinayo was so shaken that she decided to move to Ayabe and bring her nephew Kiyoshi Omori, who had been living at her parent's house, with her. Both of them, accompanied by Mon, arrived in Ayabe for the first time, in May, 1915.
Mon asked them to wait at the Ryumon-Building and went to the back saying, "I am going to ask if the Reverend is there". While Shinayo and Omori were standing there, an old woman appeared trough the passage connecting with the cottage. She had long silvered hair falling on her shoulders and was clad in a white robe and an earthen colored haori. She first disappeared as suddenly as she had arrived but then, reappeared three times more, seeming uneasy about their presence there. Shinayo knew very little about the Omoto cult and thought that the founder of the cult was a man. When Mon returned they told her about that and she said, "You have been graced by the appearance of the founder. Did you not know that she is the founder?" As she was saying that Nao appeared again and Mon felt very humble indeed. The founder said, "Today, I feel much joy and am unable to remain calm. Who are those two people you brought with you?" Before they could answer themselves. Mon said, "They are from the O-su district, Iyo County (currently, Ehime Prefecture). Crossing the sea, it is about 300 ri (about 1,320 kilometers) from here." "Welcome travelers from afar. The Reverend is not here. He has gone to Osaka. Please, go to Osaka and try to see him at any cost but for tonight you can stay in this building because the Reverend is not here. I will give instructions to take care of you." Mon Sasaki gave her many thanks because it was the first time she was allowed to stay at Ryumon-kan. The following day, on their way home, they visited Onisaburo at the house of Naoko Okazaki in Osaka. Mon said to Onisaburo "Here is a very good son of the Saga family. Please look after him in the Omoto cult." "Yah, yah, bring him to me, I am going to take care of him whenever you bring him," answered Onisaburo with a lightly. The tone of their conversation did not please Shinayo. She thought, "Isao is my only precious. I don't like this matter to be taken lightly!" Besides, it was the first trip Isao had ever made and he had been warmly welcomed by both Nao and Sumi and had almost immediately been under the spell of the Omoto cult.
When she came back to the O-su district, Shinayo told her children, "The Omoto cult is a very good place and I-chan (Isao) should remain there. O-Mon-san will take Tomoe there at some later time because she is a girl." What Mon had been asking for in her prayers was finally granted three years later, in the summer vacation of 1918. While waiting to depart, Isao was respectfully reading the Fudesaki. On the 22nd of August at dawn, they left O-su by carriage, and it took them two and a half hours to reach Nagahama in the early morning. From there on they sailed for a whole day and a whole night across the Inland Sea and they arrived at the Osaka port on the 23rd in the morning. They finally reached Ayabe, via Kyoto, a little before two in the afternoon and could finally meet Onisaburo. Onisaburo, the respected leader of the cult, had his abundant hair tied in a knot on his back and was wearing a yukata. He was sitting cross-legged and was holding a baby in his arms. His appearance was that of a huge and sturdy man. His casually warm welcoming was unforgettable for them. Isao and his mother had also been very fortunate to meet the founder personally. It moved them to the bottom of their hearts.
On the 24th of August, at about two o'clock in the morning, Koma Nakamura, mercilessly awaked doctor Tomegoro Inoue, he had arrived from Matsue and was staying in Ayabe, from his sleep. "The second generation after the founder got ill, please, hurry up, she needs assistance," he said. Inoue rushed to Sumi's room, which was adjacent to Onisaburo's. Sumi seemed to be in great pain. Nao was transferring her spiritual power to Sumi, striking her abdomen. Onisaburo, with a twisted towel tied around his head, was looking at Sumi's face, and seemed to be suffering as much as she was. Many other members of the cult who had heard the news of Sumi's illness came rushing to her room, which soon was filled with visitors. Inoue calmly examined her and diagnosed a severe gastritis. Then without warning, bright sacred words came flowing from Nao's lips. Instinctively, all the assistants began praying together but Onisaburo stopped them so that only the serene voice of Nao could be heard. Her recitation sounded like a soft breeze caressing the top of the trees and her words reached the very deepest recesses of all those who were listening to her. Even Inoue was deeply absorbed in catching every word of her prayer.
After Nao recited the sacred words two times, Sumi recovered her color, opened her eyes, and smiled to Inoue. According to the story that Onisaburo had told her around midnight on the Kinryu-kai (the Golden Dragon Sea) Sumi had been thrown into confusion by a swarm of evil spirits. Dawn was already drawing near when Inoue concluded his thorough examination and confirmed that Sumi had fully recovered. Onisaburo invited them to come to the back room. He had still his twisted towel tied around his head and seemed still to be gasping for air and suffering a lot. However, Inoue took it very lightly and did not offer to examine him because he knew by hearsay, that Onisaburo hated medical examinations. Onisaburo said to him, "It is very good for you to have heard the beautiful sacred words of the founder and her noble way of uttering them, a sound to be compared only to the voice of the angel Thais, a sound pure and free of defects. Her prayer will reach heavens and spread over the earth. I stopped everyone else's prayers because I was afraid that it might disturb the Spiritual Power of the founder's words.
Onisaburo looked at the ceiling of the room for a while, then said in a calm voice, "About the Shinto prayer, Inoue-han, I can say to you that it is the good Spiritual Power of the Sacred Words that brings peace to the mind and harmonizes the relation between heaven, earth and human beings through the blessing of the god. Besides, you should not recite whatever you like; you must first drive away the corruption brought about by the evils spirits and only then can the Spiritual Power of the words bring you peace and tranquility. If those words are uttered through a Demon's mouth it will lead the world to confusion and even worsen the situation. The same words uttered by a Demon will not purify the world but on the contrary, their dull sound will bring more greediness, jealousy, hatred, envy and indignation. It is said that Japan is in good condition to echo the Spiritual Power of the Words but those words can only be used by a good man speaking in all sincerity. If that condition is not fulfilled, they are wtally powerless to purify the world. Do you understand that?"
On the 23rd of August in the evening, Etsuko Hoshida was urgently informed that Onisaburo was (that was, of course, the result of his ascetic practice called "Binding to the Bed". Hoshida felt like rushing to Ayabe at once but at that time of night there were no trains. He thus departed from Osaka to Ayabe on the next morning, with the 6:30 a.m. train. However, Sumi was still convalescent and Onisaburo did not allow her to see him. She spent however some time talking about it with Hisa Fukushima, but on the morning of the 25th, Hoshida was finally allowed to enter the sickroom and meet Onisaburo. On that same day Aioi was quite ill humored and by noon she developed some hear problem. Doctor Inoue hastened to her side and gave her first aid. Despite that Aioi entered in convulsions in the afternoon. Her condition suddenly worsened and she died at one o'clock in the afternoon. Aioi had received her name from Aioi-no-Matsu (the pine tree of the Takasago district and the pine tree of the Sumiyoshi district). It meant long-life but despite this Aioi had lived for less than five months despite her parent's prayers. Sumi had been unable to breast-feed Aioi because she had given birth to twins and she had been giving Millet jelly to Aioi instead, although she had been warned by Nao not to give her too much of it but it seems that she did not heed the warning. Inoue apologized to the Deguchi family saying that he had no experience as a family doctor, but Nao comforted him, despite her grief over her grandson's death. She said, "I was informed that Aioi would be transferred to the Sacred World by the god before three days had elapsed. I was prepared for it. It is useless for you're to grieve." Onisaburo stared helplessly at Aioi's dead face, but remained confined in his room to fulfill his ascetic plea of the "Binding to the Bed". Onisaburo was overwhelmed with grief and his sobbing could be heard from outside the room. Sumi, Hisa, Tatsu and Hoshida remained seated around the small corpse without moving an inch. They could not check their tears, which flowed abundantly over their cheeks while some other believers were preparing for the night's wake. Wiping her tears Hisa, weighting her words, said to Sumi, "You must understand that according to the Fudesaki the boy could not inherit the generation following the founder and be called for example, Kunihiro-dono, or Aioi-dono. All those things are very mysterious and it is a pity that the boy went to the sacred world instead of his parents but you must be aware of that and reform yourself." Hoshida nodded and felt a deep empathy with her, but Sumi and Ryo kept their gloomy look. An awkward silence floated in the air. At about four o'clock in the evening Hisa stood up and said, "I have been sitting beside Aioi-dono the whole night and I am going to take a rest now. Hoshida-san should also rest somewhat." Hisa and Hoshida went to the other room and laid down on the tatami. Hisa fell asleep and started snoring lightly. Hoshida looking at Hisa suddenly shouted, "Who are you?" and she sprang up. "What?" said Hoshida, being utterly stunned. Hisa was staring at a point in space, breathing hard, and after a while, she said again, "Now, a man has appeared before me..." "How does he look like?" asked Hoshida. "He is about thirty, like the second character in that act of the play, Sadakurou," Hoshida continued, "Maybe it was only a dream, because you were snoring!" "I wonder though if it was a dream because I saw him very clearly and he seemed to want to tell me something. I should consult that with the god at any cost," said Hisa. Hisa and Hoshida went to the altar of the Kinryu-den. There Hisa was soon possessed by the god and started asking questions about the sacred significance of that situation. After the questions were answered she turned about, blushed and seemed very excited. She said, "Hoshida-han, I have received a divine revelation." Hoshida remained silent. Hisa continued, "The man I saw, is Aioi-dono who has been reborn three times." "What does that mean?" asked Hoshida. "Well, according to the instructions of the god, I am not allowed to tell anyone but I will tell you enough to enable you to understand the situation and what to do about it." "Please tell me as much as possible," said Hoshida. Hisa continued, "I will do so but promise not to tell anyone! Some day, the Reverend will retire from his sacred service, and from there on, he will be accompanied by Aioi-dono. A person will instigate Aioi-dono against the Reverend. While Aioi-dono was being cajoled into parting from the Reverend, who was calling him 'my child, my boy' the rebellion broke out and from now on there will be two groups and two principles in the Omoto cult. "What? That is really regrettable!" said Hoshida. Hisa said, "Do you think so? On the contrary! If the Reverend who is possessed by the god, Amaterasu-hiko, is left alone he will be able to reform himself. As long as the second generation after the founder leads the Omoto cult nothing will ever be crystal clear. Once Aioi-dono's parents have reformed themselves he will be born again, then, the god, Giri-Tenjo-Hinode-no-Kami will come out of his hidden hiding and appear in the real world to drive away all the dirty things of the world and he will establish himself in the true Omoto cult. As Aioi-dono will be reborn three times in this world he will be enshrined as a god. Don't grieve for Aioi-dono's death. You should on the contrary it. It may be very difficult for you to understand but it is the will of the god and you must recognize that." Hoshida said, "Yes, I understand that there are ever deeper meanings. The Omoto cult will from now on be divided in two groups and move according to two different principles. I understand that this is auspicious." Hisa shouted. "Well, we should deeply thank the god!" The two women prostrated themselves before the altar.