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)