Monthly Sermon

January 22, 2020 (Tenrikyo 183)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon (Summary)

Let us root ourselves in the “basics” as we follow the path

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister



At the Church Headquarters New Year’s Meeting held on January 4th, we received words directly from the Shinbashira for the first time in two years. When the Shinbashira spoke about “our basics,” this resonated with me.

So this year, I would like to think deeply about what our basics are as we follow this path. As you listen to this talk, I would like you to keep these “basics” in the corner of your mind.

First of all, I would like to talk about the basics of salvation work.

We, Yoboku, as instruments of Oyasama, are attendants accompanying Oyasama. Oyasama withdrew from physical life on January 26, 1887, opening the portals and stepping out toward world salvation. No matter where we go, let us constantly be aware that we are accompanying Oyasama as we engage in salvation work.

Oyasama is by our side, so although it seems as though we are the ones conducting salvation work, in reality, I feel that we are actually learning various things from the other person. Rather, sometimes I feel that Oyasama is trying to let us learn something and giving us a chance to grow spiritually through the person who is ill.

Over 20 years ago, it was when my eldest daughter was born at a hospital in Marugame. I went back to Tenri immediately to ask the Shibashira to name my daughter. When I left the entrance of the follower’s dormitory, my grandmother Kozue stopped me and said, “Wait! Where are you going?”

I thought that I had just told her that my daughter was born, and replied to her, “I am going to see the Shnibashira and ask him to name my daughter.” She simply said, “That is wrong.” Then she scolded me by saying, “First of all, go to the Kanrodai and God the Parent to give thanks.”

It is obvious and our basics. However, when we are thinking only about ourselves, we sometimes forget the basics. As I reflect, I think she might have thought that how I could go ask the Shinbashira without offering a short prayer even though I was back to Jiba. I am still grateful and thankful that I did not make a mistake of getting the order wrong.

This was around 1875 or 1876, when Rev. Rin Masui first entered the faith, while in the midst of her fervent effort to return to the Residence. She had somehow reached the Residence, body cold to the bone after having traveled through a big snowstorm. Oyasama said to Rev. Rin,

“Oh, I am so glad to see you have come. God the Parent lent a hand to bring you home. You had a hard time, slipping at many places. However, you were joyful. Sah, sah, God the Parent accepts fully, fully. Whatever you ask, it is accepted. God protects you. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it!”
So saying, Oyasama grasped Rin’s cold hands with both Her own. It was something more than warming them over the brazier. Rin was moved with gratitude and awe at the inexpressible warmth of Oyasama.

To all her children who return home to Jiba, Oyasama is waiting with open arms saying, “God the Parent accepts fully, fully. Whatever you ask, it is accepted. God protects you. Enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it!”

Therefore, for all those returning to Jiba, I would like you to align your thoughts with these three things:

1.Your dedication to Jiba.

2.Be useful at Jiba.

3.Make Jiba the place you will always return home to.

In the Ofudesaki unnumbered set, it says,

The seeds of your sincere devotion sown day after
day, I have certainly accepted.

The seed which God truly accepts will never decay
through all eternity.

When these seeds sprout in n the course of time, it
will be the talk of all ages to come.

We are taught that the seeds of sincerity you sow will not go bad.

Due to my parents’ education philosophy, I attended an American elementary school in Kobe. There was no school on the weekends, so I often returned to the followers’ dormitory in Tenri from Friday evening to Sunday.

On Saturday mornings, when I was in Tenri, my grandmother Kozue would take me to the South Worship Hall to attend the service. I thought I would be in luck if we can go to Foundress Hall and the Memorial Hall directly from there, but that was not so. Very often, with wiping cloths in hand, we would take part in wiping down the floors of the corridor as we made our way to the Foundress Hall and the Memorial Hall.

Looking back now, to my grandmother, it was a given to give thanks and prayers at the Main Sanctuary, Foundress Hall and to our ancestors at the Memorial Hall, but she was also teaching me, her grandson, that because the Jiba is the original home of human beings, when we return, we should at least clean the place of our Parent. As I think of this now, I am filled with gratitude.

In order to become of the mind to do “the things to do when you return to the Jiba,” I believe it is helpful that you live in Tenri, at Jiba, at least once.

Not everyone can attend schools in Tenri, or work at the Church Headquarters or at the followers’ dormitory in Oyasato, the Home of the Parent.

That is why it is necessary to attend the three-month Spiritual Development Course.

Let’s make efforts to have many people to attend the Spiritual Development Course so that they may be able to feel that Jiba is the place to return.

The Jiba is the place where human beings were first conceived at the time of creation, where God the Parent resides, and where the Service for universal salvation is performed.

Receiving the truth of the Kagura Service, the monthly service is performed at each local church.

In the Divine Directions, we are taught:

Listen well. People come, looking forward to the monthly service, monthly service. Saying it is delightful to attend the monthly services and attend the monthly services with delighted mind at each locale is the foundation of the path, the foundation of the path.
Osashizu: October 16, 1900 [Trial translation]

Needless to say, the monthly service needs to be performed with serious and focused mind, however, at the same time, we are also taught that performing the service joyously is the foundation of this path.

The goal of Oyasama’s 50-year Divine Model was to perform the Service. Thus, let us make our monthly services so joyous that people cannot wait to attend every month. Likewise, we would like to make the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church, which is coming up in two years, the anniversary that people look forward to—the one people can hardly wait to attend. In order to accomplish it, each returnee should take this anniversary as his or her own, and be the “cast” who can make the anniversary the joyous one.

Next, please allow me to talk about the Women’s Association.

The 110th Anniversary Commemorative Annual Convention of Tenrikyo Women’s Association will be held on April 19 this year.

One of the Goals for Spiritual Maturity for Women’s Association is “Let us follow the Divine Model and become the foundation of the Joyous Life world.”

It means to always pursue the path of the Divine Model of Oyasama and to become the foundation of the Joyous Life. Therefore, wherever you are at any time, please strive to become the source of the Joyous Life and be a kind person.

It is nothing more important to listen to the addresses by the Shinbashira and the president of Women’s Association directly at the convention. In order to settle the truth of these addresses in mind, let us strive to develop your mindset so that you may be able to listen to these addresses with a purified mind.

Further, in our Goals for Spiritual Maturity, we have “Let us dedicate ourselves to nurture people to attend the Besseki lectures and have them continue to attend the Besseki lectures until they complete all nine,” and “Let us nurture those who will shoulder the future of the path.”

In the Divine Directions, we are taught:

The path is to take the lead in order and nurture those who follow.
Osashizu: September 19, 1898 (Trial translation)

One must attend the Besseki lectures and listen to the lectures of God nine times in order to develop his/her mind to receive the truth of the Sazuke. In Chapter 9 of the Doctrine of Tenrikyo, we are taught:

A follower thus called forth returns to the Home of the Parent and attends the Besseki lectures. As one progresses through the sessions, one gradually sweeps away the dusts by virtue of the truth of the teachings, corrects one’s conduct and, finally, the mind becomes clear. The desire to be saved becomes a desire for the salvation of others. This is when the truth of the Sazuke is bestowed and the mind is reborn. The truth of the Sazuke is a divine gift bestowed on the mind of sincerity befitting a Yoboku. Only when the truth of the Sazuke is settled in the mind, will its effectiveness be manifest.

In order to receive the truth of the Sazuke, one must attend the Besseki lectures. However, the important things are to sweep the dust of the mind by virtue of the lectures and develop the mind to want to save others from that of wanting to be saved.

It is important to nurture such minds in order to receive the truth of the Sazuke. Therefore, let us exert effort on this as well.

Further, in our Goals for Spiritual Maturity, we have “Let us nurture those who will shoulder the future of the path.” We only have 16 years until the 150th Anniversary of Oyasama as well as 200th Anniversary of the Founding of the Teachings. If we count the “Three Year, One Thousand Day” preparation period, we only have 13 years until then. Considering 13 years, a 10 year old will be 23 and a 20 year old will be 33 respectively. They will be in their prime.

Let us focus on the future and nurture those who are currently in the Boys and Girls Association age group.

Keeping in the words of the Shinbashira, “our basics,” I shared my thoughts with you today.

Let us be conscious of accompanying Oyasama, and let us sow the seeds of sincerity at Jiba, become useful person for Jiba and bring back as many persons as possible to Jiba.

Thank you so much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greetings from Rev. Kanta

December 22, 2019 (Tenrikyo 182)
Honjima Grand Church Head Ministers’ Meeting

Let us solidify the base and move forward

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

katayama kanta


In looking back at this year, I was reminded of Kiyoko Suizenji’s song, “The 365 Step March.”

Happiness doesn’t walk toward us
That’s why we walk toward it
One step a day, three steps in three days
Taking three steps forward and two steps back
Life is a one-two punch
Sweating and crying, let’s keep walking
Where you left your footsteps
A beautiful flower will surely bloom
Swing your arms, lift your feet
One two, one two
Don’t take a break, keep walking
Hup! One two, one two
One two, one two
(Original Japanese lyrics by Tetsuro Hoshino, Composition by Masao Yoneyama)

In this song, I would think you can replace the lyric “happiness" with the "Joyous Life.”

The Joyous Life doesn’t walk up to us. Rather, we must walk the path of the Joyous Life. We must go forward step by step, following the path that Oyasama laid for us. If you don’t pay attention, weeds may sprout up quickly and cover the path. So you must diligently follow the path.

However, there may be times when you may falter a couple of steps backward. Because the ground may have been shaky, you may have to take a step back then take a firm step forward again.

We should reflect whether we are firmly walking the Path, through the sweat, through our cries. If we think of the pioneers of the path, I think we are still very naïve. “Let's keep walking” means to me that we don’t just stop in our tracks. Let’s call on our friends around us and support each other through this.

Lastly, “swing your arms, lift your feet, don’t take a break.” In the Hand Dance, the movements for “hinokishin” are lifting your hands and lifting your feet as you step toward Jiba.

This coming New Year, the 183rd year of Tenrikyo, I’d like to focus our effort in nurturing the human resources.

Thank you for your efforts this past year.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

December 22, 2019 (Tenrikyo 182)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon (Summary)

Let us learn from Rev. Yoshizo’s sincerity and his passion

Rev. Michiaki Makino
Grand Church Board Member



Rev. Yoshizo Katayama, the 2nd head minister of Honjima Grand Church, was born on April 28, 1869, in Kosho area of Honjima Island, as the 3rd son of Takejiro and Karu Nagao. He was a general contractor and was adopted to Katayama family by marrying with Haru Katayama at the age of 25.

However, he encountered a series of mishaps in his business and as a result, he continued to experience business failures. In 1902, when he was 34 years old, he suffered from a major illness. Then he met Rev. Eisa Sato, a missionary from Koshinokuni Branch Church who was doing the missionary work in Honjima Island at the time. Rev. Yoshizo was inspired by Rev. Sato’s sincerity and salvation work, which has led him to enter Tenrikyo faith.

Despite his illness, he visited Koshinokuni Branch Church and Kawaramachi Branch Church to pay respect to the parental churches. He, then, returned to Jiba. Rev. Yoshizo was blessed with a full recovery by the time he returned to Honjima Island.

Since then, until he passed away for rebirth on June 27, 1942, at the age of 74, he lived a life of faith, single-heartedly devoting himself to the spiritual parent.

Honjima is an island in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea with a circumference of approximately 9.76 miles. By this vast ocean, we are connected with the world.

I think Rev. Yoshizo focused on the convenience of this location and kept overseas missionary work in his mind from early on.

Missionary efforts to the former Japanese occupied Seoul began in 1903. From various places on the Korean Penninsula to Manchuria, China and Mongolia, missionaries were dispatched and churches were established. Also missionary efforts on ships were conducted. Sailors who were Yoboku conducted missionary work at each port of call and the path reached Southeast Asia. Furthermore, from the port cities such as Yokohama and Kobe to mainland America and the Hawaiian archipelago, missionaries were dispatched and many churches were established. This is in relation to the present churches overseas. It gained a reputation called the “Missionary Efforts by Compass,” which became the form of missionary strategy unique to the path of Honjima.

The construction plan of the Main Sanctuary, the Foundress’ Sanctuary, and the South Worship Hall of the Church Headquarters was announced as the “Showa Construction” between 1931 and 1934. Honjima Branch Church was able to donate all the stone materials for the foundation of the sanctuary structures. Moreover, in 1934, when the model Kanrodai was placed in the inner sanctuary, Honjima, again, was able to donate the stone materials for the foundation of the Kanrodai.

In his later years, on May 14, 1941, Honjima was given a higher position as a grand church, and its dedication service was conducted.

In a memory shared by those who knew Rev. Yoshizo personally, “Rev. Yoshizo spent most of his time in Korea and Manchuria doing missionary work, and he only came back to Honjima just for three or four days before and after the monthly service each month. When he returned to Honjima, he would sit in the sanctuary, gathered people and talked about the teachings until two or three o’clock in the morning. He was thorough about the teachings, and he was indeed the embodiment of the teachings.

Also, another reverend commented,

“Rev. Yoshizo guided me from 1923 until he passed away for rebirth in 1942. He did not talk about the teachings only for 30 minutes or so. Rather, he talked about the teachings for two to three hours, if not, all through the night. If the person still was not convinced, then he even took days to persuade him/her until s/he is fully convinced. No matter how much s/he counter-argued Rev. Yoshizo initianlly, s/he was eventually brought to a point where s/he admired Rev. Yoshizo.

I think Rev. Yoshizo was a big-hearted person with full of passion.

He always kept in mind the indebtedness of gratitude of being saved. He conveyed universal salvation and the construction of the Joyous Life World widely to many people with passion and with his faith—single-heartedly devoting himself to the spiritual parent.

Aiming for the 120th Anniversary of Honjima Grand Church, this year’s the Goals for Spiritual Maturity has been announced.

"If you bind yourselves together in a unity of minds, I shall provide any blessings for you."
• Let us follow the Divine Model of Oyasama.
• Let us devote ourselves to perform the service.
• Let us dedicate ourselves to nurture people to attend the Besseki lectures and have them continue attending until they complete all nine.
• Let us nurture those who will shoulder the future of the path.

Once again, let us deepen the understanding of the Goals for Spiritual Maturity. Next year we will finally welcome the year to carry out the work. Let us work diligently next year as well.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Greetings from Rev. Kanta

November 22, 2019 (Tenrikyo 182)
Honjima Grand Church Head Ministers’ Meeting

Sprinkling the Fragrance: the Joy of Serving Oyasama

Rev. Kanta Katayama
Honjima Grand Church Head Minister

katayama kanta


On November 3, the 29th Young Women’s Convention was held in Jiba. The last time they held the convention in Jiba was six years ago.

There are three “Young Women’s activity goals”—“Let us visit church,” “Let us engage in Hinokishin,” and, “Let us sprinkle the fragrance of the Path”.

I took a moment to think about “sprinkling the fragrance.”

Please excuse me to talk about something inappropriate. When you break wind, you cause trouble for people around. I’m sure you all have had similar experience. The odor reaches people unintentionally.

Likewise, as you cultivate your mind by practicing Oyasama’s teachings, you will produce nice fragrance that will spread out to people around you unknowingly.

This is a story relayed by Rev. Yoichiro Miyamori.

“In March of 1883, Oyasama called Rev. Naokichi Takai, who was serving at the Residence at the time, and asked him, ‘Please go to Enshu.’ As Rev. Takai was so earnest, he set off to go to Enshu right then and there. Rev. Yosaburo Miyamori, who was doing some cleaning at the entryway, upon learning his intentions said, “If that is the case, I shall go with you,” and the two of them left the Residence together.

However, neither Rev. Takai nor Rev. Miyamori knew where Enshu was. So, they first visited Rev. Umejiro Izutsu in Osaka. Rev. Izutsu had a cotton wholesale business and knew a thing or two about the world. Hearing their story, Rev. Izutsu said, ‘If it is to serve Oyasama, I will go with you, too.’ Thus, calling on Rev. Zenkichi Tachibana to join them, the four of them headed to Enshu together.

On the way, the four practiced the teodori service dance at their lodging. Their practice was so joyous that ohineri came flying from the adjacent room. Ohineri are coins wrapped in paper that people in theaters throw toward the stage. Their service dance practice must have been very lively indeed.

Upon reaching Enshu, the four ministers relayed the truth of the teachings at Rev. Kunisaburo Moroi’s Tenrin Fellowship (later known as Totoumi Shinmei Fellowship) and taught the teodori service dance.” (Referenced material “Takai Family Documents” compiled by Naohisa Takai)

Why were these four reverends able practice the Teodori service dance so happily and in high spirits? I think that it was because their minds were filled with the thought--they were in service for Oyasama. I think such spirited mind will inspire people around you.

There is a story “BECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE YOU” in the Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo. Oyasama said, “Because people like you, God also likes you.”

I think that “people like you, God likes you” refers to someone who is able to live joyously every day.

Let us always work with joyous mind--the mind that is willing to serve the everliving Oyasama and to bring satisfaction to Oyasama.

Thank you very much.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)

Monthly Sermon

November 22, 2019 (Tenrikyo 182)
Honjima Grand Church Monthly Service Sermon (Summary)

Preciousness of working at the grand church.

Rev. Yasonori Okazaki
Grand Church Associate Board Member



My second and third daughters are currently the staff members at the grand church as Joshiseinen, Young Women’s service, full time staff.

I feel very grateful that my daughters were under the kind care of other grand church staff members as well as local church ministers and our fellow followers.

My parents are also full-time staff here at the grand church. So for my daughters, it is like living with their grandparents.

My wife and I are at my church, living separately from them. Therefore, I am grateful for my parents for working with my daughters closely and for nurturing them through various tasks. My daughters seem to enjoy working here at the grand church.

My second daughter, after graduating from Tenri High School, she entered the Shiraume-Dorm, with the goal of studying childcare at a vocational school. After graduation, she worked at the Tenri Day Care Center for a year, then two years at Doho Gakuen School in Kobe, and then completed one year of Joshiseinen service. She has since returned to our church.

She had made plans far in advance to go to a concert with her friend, which was right after she completed her Joshiseinen service, however, she was assigned to become the Honjima dormitory counselor for the Shuyoka Spiritual Development Course and the training course fell on the same day.

She pondered whether to attend the concert of her favorite band or attend the training session, and her answer was “I will turn down the concert and perform my service.”

I was certain that she was going to choose the concert. If I were in her shoes, I wonder what I would have done. I was so surprised that I really thought, “Is this really my daughter!?”

My daughter, as she discovers her own path, has come to choose the path that will bring the most joy to God the Parent. For me, there’s no greater joy.

Next, my third daughter, after graduating from Tenri High School, immediately began her Joshiseinen Young Women’s service at the grand church. She wrote an article that was published in the Kagawa district’s newsletter and I would like to read from that.

“At the start of 2019, I took part in the grand church’s New Year’s Service for the first time as a Joshiseinen. As is customary at the grand church, we wrote our New Year’s messages. As I read the messages written by the long-time residents, the one written by my grandmother caught my eye. In large letters it said, ‘FUSEKOMI (sowing seeds of sincerity) is the joy of the future.’ I was surprised and at the same time, I was embarrassed to think, ‘she still needs to sow seeds?’

My grandmother will turn 80 years old this year. I have heard since I was a child of how she came to Honjima after marrying, and has been a long-term resident here, working in the kitchen as well as performing hinokishin in a variety of ways. However, when I deliberately think of how she has lived this way for years on end and planting her seeds of sincerity, I am truly moved.

Although I had started with the intention to plant my seeds for two years of Joshiseinen service, I’ve realized that, without even my knowledge, I think God the Parent, through my grandmother, had made me more aware of my service.

This is probably just my imagination but it warms my heart to think that what my grandmother meant by ‘looking forward to the future,’ is not about what she will personally experience, rather that everyone she is connected with can live joyously. For me it brought on a new meaning to the term, ‘looking forward to the future through dedication.’ I would like to treasure this as I continue on daily."

I thought it was an enlightened perception for a parent.

Of course while serving at the grand church, there were times I received calls of complaints from my daughters. My wife and I, after completely hearing what they had to say, relayed our thoughts and settled the matter.

I feel, serving at the grand church is not always all happy times. There are times it definitely is not. Yet, what is important is the way in which we perceive those experiences and to accept all things we are shown based on the faith. What I am most grateful for is that I am able to learn how to truly feel joyous.

I would like to strongly recommend serving at the grand church to everyone.

(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)