First published: 1998
Last updated: May 5, 2019


This article is based on Mr. Yasuaki Deguchi's research on the Kirigami Shinji (Paper Cutout Revelation).







What is believed to be the dagger for defense (left) that Prince Taruhito gave to Yone for their child (Onisaburo).

It has the Imperial Chrysanthemum Crest on its haft.



Serendipity

A man from Tokyo dropped by the residence of Mr. Yasuaki Deguchi (a grandson of Onisaburo) in Kyoto on January 19, Heisei 10 (1998). This date happened to mark the 50th anniversary of Onisaburo's ascention.

Mr. Deguchi offered him a stay at the "Kumano House" (Onisaburo named the residence this way), and this publisher idly browsed in Mr. Deguchi's personal library until dinner was ready.

There he stumbled on a dusty old box containing some newspaper cutouts and four booklets on what is claimed to be a "divine art of the Imperial Nation (Japan)"--namely, the Kirigami Shinji (Paper Cutout Revelation).

Considering its background and significance, the Kirigami Shinji will likely revolutionize the country's Imperial history after the Meiji era, and the general perception of Onisaburo and Omoto as a whole.



Four booklets found at Kumano House



What is the Kirigami Shinji?

The Kirigami Shinji is a kind of divine revelation based on the paper-cutting art where the use of all the 9 strips creates meaningful characters, such as " (cross; symbol of God) and HELL" or " (cross) and LOVE (a variation of HELL)." Some readers may be familiar with it as some Christian missionaries often use this technique for their missions.

But, did you know the art also produces the following character strings?:


1 and : God and akuma (Japanese word for "devil")
2 : kami (Japanese word for "god," "deity")
3 and : ka (fire) and mi (water) = kami. In Shinto, Kami is often synonymous with fire and water.
4 and : sukuhi (salvation) and God, and together it can also mean a "saviour deity."
5 : miroku (Japanese word for "Maitreya")
6 and : God and Taniha (Tamba; region including Ayabe and Kameoka, where the Omoto faith was born)
7 and : God and Ayabe (place where one of Omoto's holy sanctuaries is located)
8 : Omoto
9 : ushitora (Ushitora no Konjin; Kunitokotachi no Mikoto)
10 hitsujisaru (Hitsujisaru no Konjin. Her real name is Toyokumonu no Mikoto, the wife-deity of Kunitokotachi no Mikoto. Also a manifestation of Kamususanowo no Okami)
11 : Deguchi (the Deguchi family)
12 (or ) and (or ) : Nao [or Naka] and Oni [or Wani ] (Nao and Onisaburo Deguchi, founders of Omoto. Nao's name on the family register was Naka. Onisaburo was often dubbed Wani-san)
13 : Sumiko (Omoto's Second Spiritual Leader Sumi Deguchi, the youngest daughter of Nao. Sumi was called either Sumi or Sumiko)
14 : Naohi (Omoto's Third Spiritual Leader Naohi Deguchi, the eldest daughter of Onisaburo and Sumi)
15 : Motowo (The real first name of Hidemaru Deguchi, Naohi's husband and the Deputy Third Spiritual Leader)
16 : Taisho 10 (1921, the year when the Japanese authorities persecuted Omoto on Feb. 12 and destroyed its brand-new shrine atop Mt. Hongu in Ayabe on Oct. 20 by the solar calendar or Sep. 20 by the lunar calendar)
17 : jugatsu (October, the month on the solar calendar when Omoto's holy shrine started to be demolished [Oct. 20])
18 : kugatsu (September, the month on the lunar calendar when Omoto's holy shrine started to be demolished [Sep. 20])
19 : juninichi (12th day, the day when the Japanese government suppressed Omoto [Feb. 12])
20 : hatsuka (20th day, the day when Omoto's holy shrine started to be demolished [either Oct. 20 or Sep. 20])
21 : gogoichi (1:00 PM, the hour when Omoto's holy shrine started to be demolished)
22 : Hongu (small hill within Omoto's holy ground in Ayabe. Omoto's holy of holies, sort of. Also the site of the government suppression of the religious sect, better known as the First Omoto Incident)
23 : juhachinichi (18th day, the day when the dictation of the Reikai Monogatari got under way on Oct. 18 by the solar calendar or Sep. 18 by the lunar calendar)
24 : Nippon (kanji characters for "Japan")
25 : Beikoku (kanji characters for the "United States of America."   is a simplified form of

Images below are taken from Reikai no Saikokimitsu by
Yasuaki Deguchi. KK Longsellers, 1999.)




How to create the Kirigami Shinji




2nd row: ka and mi (Kami)

4th row: (cross) and HELL





(top to bottom, clockwise):
  • kami
  • (cross) and akuma (Devil)
  • (cross) and sukui (salvation)
  • (cross) and Taniha
  • miroku (Maitreya)




(top to bottom, clockwise):
  • Omoto (1)
  • (cross) and Ayabe
  • Omoto (2)
  • ushitora (Deity Kunitokotachi)
  • hitsujisaru (Deity Toyokumonu)
  • Omoto (3)




(top to bottom, clockwise):
  • Nao and Oni (or Wani )
  • Deguchi
  • Taisho 10 (1921)
  • kugatsu (September)
  • jugatsu (October)



juhachinichi (18th day)




(left to right)
1st column: gogoichi (1:00 PM)
2nd column: hatsuka (20th day)




(left to right)
1st column: beikoku (U.S.A)
2nd column: Nippon (Japan)



As you can see, what is called the Kirigami Shinji (Paper Cutout Revelation) prophesies the founding of the Omoto faith in the Tamba region including Ayabe, the emergence of Nao and Onisaburo Deguchi, and the battle between the Kami and the Devil on Mt. Hongu, costing Omoto's holy shrine yet triggering the dictation of the everlasting gospel, The Reikai Monogatari (Tales of the Spirit World).

The above combinations employ all of the nine pieces--with no shortage or superfluity, and they come out in an orderly fashion. Moreover, Japanese words (kana syllabaries and kanji characters) are produced in great numbers. In light of the theorem of probability, this is by no means a coincidence but a great work of the Creator.



Sources of the Kirigami Shinji



Emperor Komei
(1831-1866)


The Kirigami Shinji is of obscure origin, but it can trace back to several possible sources.

One has to do with with a paper-cutting competition in Britain or perhaps France. Sponsered by a local newspaper company, this contest looked for ways to create the Christian cross with just one scissor cut, and a female contestant won the prize for what is now identical to the Kirigami Shinji.

Another comes from an Omoto believer named Hara. He practiced medicine in Taiwan around Taisho 8 (1919) or Taisho 9 (1920). By mere chance, he discovered the Kirigami Shinji, and it later spread among Omoto believers in Japan.

Still another source is based on the four handwritten booklets found at the Kumano House (Mr. Deguchi's residence). They indicate that Japan's Emperor Komei (1831-1866; See the image above) conferred this paper-cutting art upon one of his Imperial Palace guards, Kametaro Asahigata, for his daring rescue of the Emperor during the Kinmon Incident of 1894 (Kinmon refers to a gate of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto), where the Choshu domain fought with those of Aizu and Satsuma in a bid to regain influence in the Tokugawa Shogunate.

While these are sources known to us so far, other little known sources also exist. For example, this paper-cutting art has spread to the Shinshu-kyo religion via some kind of mysterious process.

A great Japanese poet, Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933), also mentions it in his 119-verse poem, the Okhotsk Banka (Dirge for the Sea of Okhotsk) published in August 4, Taisho 12 (1923). In it, Miyazawa says he sneered at his sister, Toshiko when she created a cross () and HELL with some wood pieces and then changed HELL to LOVE because it was a common practice in those days. Since Toshiko died in November, Taisho 11 (1922), the Kirigami Shinji must have been popular around then if the story is true.

A much more recent anecdote has it that on January 3, Heisei 10 (1998), a big-name Japanese actor, Hisaya Morishige, demonstrated the Kirigami Shinji in an NHK (Japan's national TV network) show titled Futari no Big Show ("A Big Show by Two People") with Akiko Wada, yet another big-name Japanese singer. Mr. Yasuaki Deguchi called Morishige's residence, and his son, who happened to pick up the phone while he was away, told him that Morishige learned the technique from a foreigner he met at a gathering.



Onisaburo's Riddle?

In the January, Taisho 10 (1921) issue of the Shinreikai (World of Spirit), Onisaburo quoted the Tokyo-based Oyamato Daily as saying:



An article in the Oyamato Daily about the Kirigami Shinji


(Brief Summary)
  • To uncover the true identity of Omoto, a politician recently did some research on its teachings and learned the Kamikiri Senden (Paper-Cutout Advertising = the Kirigami Shinji). With this technique, he tried telling the fortune of Japan and its diplomatic relations.
  • Two major forces--Kami and Akuma (Devil)--appear, and the former is the Deity Hitsujisaru, a symbolic reference to Omoto's holy sanctuaries in Ayabe.
  • The time when these forces will clash with each other is September 20, Taisho 10 (1921) at 1:00 p.m.
  • Under whose cabinet will this showdown take place? The paper cutouts say it is not Hara nor Goto but Kato.
  • The Kirigami Senden also produces such Omoto-related character strings as Dai Nippon (Greater Japan), Taniha, Omoto, Hongu, Deguchi Nao, Oni, and Naohi .

In those days, many newspapers across the country libeled Omoto pretty badly except the Oyamato Daily, the Kyushu Nippo, the Ehime Daily, the Ibaraki Daily, the Hokkai Times, and some others.

The Oyamato Daily has to do with Mr. Nyogetsu Noguchi, an ardent follower who became head of Omoto branches in Ibaraki Prefecture. This rings the bell! The whole thing must be Onisaburo's riddle.

In other words, foreseeing the imminent raid of Omoto's holy ground by the authories, Onisaburo wanted to alert his believers to it by getting the Yamato Daily to carry his article in anonymity and letting it reprinted in the Shinreikai. This way, Onisaburo would not be blamed for its content. If Onisaburo had sent the message directly via Omoto's in-house organs, they would have been halted at once, and Onisaburo would have been accused of misleading the public, expediting the First Omoto Persecution.

The Kamikiri Senden proved right. On September 20 (lunar calendar), Taisho 10 (1921) at 1:00 p.m., the authorities began demolishing Omoto's brand-new sanctuary, while Onisaburo began dictating the everlasting gospel, the Reikai Monogatari. This is a dramatic showdown between Kami and Akuma (Devil). It was actually under the Hara Cabinet, but Kato did become the Prime Minister on June 9, Taisho 11 (1922), six months after the Persecution.

Interestingly, what Onisaburo dictated on this very date are Chapters 18-22 of Volume 1, and they tell us:
  • There are three major devils on earth that have plunged the world into chaos since its creation: Yamata-no-Orochi , Kimmoh-kyubi Hakumen-no-Akko, and Rokumen-happi-no-Jaki. They are formed as evil thoughts coagulate.
  • Yamata-no-Orochi appears in what is known today as Russia, Kimmoh-kyubi Hakumen-no-Akko, in modern-day India, and Rokumen-happi-no-Jaki, in the land of Jews.
  • Yamata-no-Orochi possesses the heads of twelve regions of the world and uses them to plunge the world of deities into chaos. Kimmoh-kyubi Hakumen-no-Akko possesses the wives of the regional leaders. Rokumen-happi-no-Jaki plots to vandalize every system of the divine world and of the physical world in order to assume the post of the Earth's Ultimate Ruler and to disrupt the world into pandemonium of lost spirits.
  • The Supreme Deity Kunitokotachi of the Earth's divine world is forced to step down due to the evil deities' plot.
  • When Kunitokotachi is expelled from Jerusalem into the Japanese Archipelago, the Creator of the Universe (later manifested as Kamususanowo no Okami) promises that He will help Kunitokotachi be reinstated as Supreme Leader of the Earth when the time is ripe.
The scribe was Masaharu Taniguchi, the founder of the Seicho no Ie organization as shown below:



Excerpts from Chapter 18 of Volume 1 of the Reikai Monogatari

(Note)
According to Onisaburo, what happened in the Divine World will happen to Japan and Omoto in a similar fashion (See Japan's Mission).

This passage says:
  1. Evil deities are trying to take over the Earth's Taka-Ama-Hara (literally "Heaven", and figuratively "Omoto" in this context) while "marching with a red flag hoisted high" (pink circle in the picture), and
  2. The Creator of the Universe decides to come to the rescue of the Earth's Supreme Leader Kunitokotachi, and Kunitokotachi welcomes Him at a temporary sanctuary he built for the Great August Deity. (The underline hints at the short life of Omoto's brand-new shrine.)
Red flags are normally associated with the Communists, but the mysteries of the Kirigami Shinji reveal that Emperor Komei entrusted the red Imperial Flag (See below) to one of his Imperial Palace guards, Kametaro Asahigata. If the red flag in the passage above alludes to this flag, the authorities' persecution of the Omoto faith was probably done under the Emperor's name or possibly under the Emperor's directive.




The Imperial Flag entrusted to Asahigata by Emperor Komei



Emperor Komei and the Kirigami Shinji


Kametaro Asahigata as an Imperial Palace guard


Let us now focus on Emperor Komei's source of the Kirigami Shinji.

The political situation in the reign of Emperor Komei (1831-1866) was very unstable. The 1853 arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his four warships (dubbed "black ships") of the US East India Squadron at Uraga at the mouth of Edo Bay opened Pandora's box, undermining the foundation of the Tokugawa Shogunate and polarizing the nation into pro- and anti-Tokugawa camps.

The pro-Tokugawa forces sought to maintain the status quo and often met interests with the "respect the Emperor and expel the barbarians (foreigners)" advocates. Since Emperor Komei was dead set against foreign influence, he often incurred the wrath of anti-Tokugawa reformists, such as Choshu (present-day Yamaguchi) and Satsuma (modern-day Kagoshima) domains. (These two domains eventually toppled the Tokugawa Shogunate and established the Meiji government.)

Against this backdrop, to redeem its political influence, the Choshu domain fought with other domains at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto in 1864. It is called the Kinmon Incident ("Kinmon" refers to a gate encircling the Imperial Court).

The gunfire was so intense that stray bullets crossed the Court, endangering the Imperial Family. The 13-year-old Prince Mutsuhito (= Emperor Meiji) passed out at this dreadful sight, and court ladies and chamberlains turned pale. But the Emperor remained unperturbed. Then came a shout to protect the Emperor.

An Imperial Palace guard, Kametaro Asahigata, came to the rescue of the Mikado. However, he dithered over how to rescue Emperor Komei, considering his augustness... It would be rude to hold him on the back of a lowly commoner like me, and it would expose His Majesty to stray bullets. But it would also be rude to hold him and touch his flesh because he is so noble....

All of a sudden, a former sumo wrestler, Asahigata decided to carry the Emperor on his palms. Despite several bullets he suffered in flight, he did a gallant job of rescuing the Suzerain.

Hailing this feat, Emperor Komei conferred the following 31-syllable waka poem on the brave guard:


Terukage o

Hirate ni ukeshi

Asahigata

Chiyo ni kagayaku

Isao narikeri
Translation: That Asahigata carried the Glittering Light (implying Emperor Komei; the Emperor is often likened to a gyoku ["gem"]) on his palms is a feat that will endure for thousands of years.


It is at this time that Emperor Komei not only taught Asahigata what he called a "secret art of the Divine Nation (Japan)" but also entrusted him with the Emperor's autographs and the Imperial Flag.




The Imperial Flag entrusted to Asahigata by Emperor Komei


Later, two court nobles, Sanenaru Saga and Michitomi Higashikuze also offered Asahigata the following waka poems:

Sanenaru SagaMichitomi Higashikuze

Ku o wasure

Ie o sutetaru

Joubu ga

Akaki kokoro wa

Kami zo shiruran


Translation:
Kami will understand how much sincerity this daring, self-sacrificing guard exercised in rescuing the Emperor.

Miyabashira

Futoshiku tatete

Asahigata

Kagayaku Isao

Chiyo mo kuchiseji


Translation:
Asahigata's dazzling feat will be remembered for the next thousands of years.

Sanenaru Saga is the same as Sanenaru Ogimachisanjo. He convinced Emperor Komei to marry his sister Prince Kazu to the 14th Shogun Iemochi of the Tokugawa government for political expediency. This agonized Prince Taruhito (Onisaburo's real father) because she was his fiancee. Aware of the futility of fighting against foreign influence, Saga decided that it would be best for the Imperial Court to become independent of the Shogunate, and he gave Satsuma and Choshu domains a secret order to topple the Tokugawa government.

Michitomi Higashikuze is one of the seven court nobles who sought political asylum with the Choshu domain after expelled from the Imperial Palace in a political tug-of-war between the Satsuma-Aizu alliance and the Choshu domain (At this time, Satsuma and Chosu were at odds). As a result, the Satsuma and Aizu domains, which advocated a coalition of the Court and the Shogunate, purged the "respect the Emperor and expel the barbarians (foreigners)" Choshu domain from Kyoto.

That Emperor Komei deposited the Imperial Flag with Asahigata, a mere commoner is unbelievable, but this means how volatile the political situation around the Mikado may have been. The Tamahoko no Hikari (one of the four booklets found at Mr. Deguchi's residence) reports what the Emperor told Asahigata when he entrusted the red Imperial Flag to his bodyguard:
"28 years from now, in the year of the dragon, the Great Maitreya Deity will become manifest. With this August Deity, our Imperial Nation will be all right. But till then, great upheavals will break out here and there. Therefore, I will deposit this flag with you until the Deity's manifestation. When the year comes, choose an appropriate date to return the flag."
This Imperial Flag was safely returned to Emperor Meiji on August 17, Meiji 25 (1892). As a token of his appreciation, the Emperor gave Asahigata 100 yen (a hefty sum in those days) through the Imperial Household Ministry:




A document (left) indicating the receipt of the Imperial Flag from Asahigata by the Imperial Household Ministry, as well as a directive (right) in which Minister Tsuchikata of the Imperial Household instructs Governor Yamada of Osaka Prefecture to bestow 100 yen on Asahigata in appreciation for the return of the Imperial Flag


Since the Imperial Flag is a necessary item for succession to the Imperial Throne, the question may arise here: How did Emperor Meiji accede to the Chrysanthemum Throne without the Flag?

Asahigata's disciple, Monjiro Sato (detailed later) had the same question, and one of his friends, Kagenori Shinohara, happened to be acquainted with a retired member of the Shimazu family who ruled the Satsuma domain. This domain was a major architect of the Meiji government.

This old man said that people concerned were so troubled by the lost Flag that they had another Imperial Flag woven with the brocade they bought at 100 yen (a hefty sum in those days) in the Nishijin district of Kyoto. His remark proves what Emperor Komei entrusted Asahigata with was the genuine Imperial Flag.

A while later, upon this retired Shimazu's request, Sato and Shinohara revisited his mansion. Sato told him about Emperor Komei's Kirigami Shinji, its revelations and numeric chart, and he was deeply impressed. When Sato mentioned Omoto, however, he got furious and began lashing out at Sato. (Note: Omoto, newly organized around this time, was often mistreated as a dangerous cult.) Unable to bear the vile epithets, Sato left the mansion.

After this incident, Jinsai Yuasa, a senior member of Omoto, visited Sato and suggested that he have the old man write a note of confirmation that the loss of the Imperial Flag resulted in the use of a makeshift substitute during Emperor Meiji's enthronement ceremony.

Sato visited Shinohara to inform him of Yuasa's suggestion. Then came Shinohara's surprising news: The retired Shimazu dropped dead shortly after he swore at Sato. This reminded Sato of what Emperor Komei revealed in his autographs and the Kirigami Shinji:
Anyone who would oppose this is a traitor and cannot be allowed to stay on the divine ground of Japan.


The prophecies of the Kirigami Shinji


The Prophecies of the Kirigami Shinji


Emperor Komei taught Asahigata the following prophecies based on the revelations of the Kirigami Shinji:


(1) The saviours will be the great deities of the spirits of "fire" and "water," manifesting themselves as Naka Deguchi (= Foundress Nao) and O-wani Deguchi (= Onisaburo) in Ayabe, Taniha (= northwest of Kyoto).
(Note: "fire" [ka] and "water" [mi ] = kami. In Shinto, fire and water often represent the Kami.)

(2)Kami will watch and protect the divine role of O-wani, who will be 70 years old in the year 2600 (= Showa 15 [1940]) by the Imperial calendar.

(3)Japan will perish without the Deguchis in Ayabe, Tamba (= Taniha).

(4)The three important mountains for the Greater Japan are Mt. Misen, Mt. Yotsuo, and Mt. Hongu.
(Note: These three mountains are all in the Tamba region. Mt. Hongu is where Omoto's holy of holies is. Mt. Yotsuo is located near Mt. Hongu, and the spirit of Kunitokotachi no Mikoto is believed to dwell in it.)

(5)Mt. Yotsuo is a sacred mountain to succeed the world. Mt. Tera will submerge. A 10-square-ri (= 244-square-mile) area (surrounding Mt. Hongu) will be the Kami's sanctuary.
(Note: The number should be a figurative expression for a large area.)

(6)Beware that the United States plans to rob Japan of the three regalias of the Imperial Throne and the Rising-Sun Flag.

(7)When war breaks out between the United States and Japan, there will be warplanes, airships, and bombs in the sky, and the Rising-Sun flags, canons, tanks, and undersea evil ships (= submarines) on the earth.


Perhaps sensing his imminent death, Emperor Komei revealed these prophecies to Asahigata, a mere bodyguard. (Note: The Emperor had a sudden death, and some insist he was assassinated by anti-Shogunate forces. Interestingly, the Korean who killed Hirobumi Ito accuses Ito of assassinating Emperor Komei as a motive for his slaying of the samurai-turned architect of the Meiji government.) Here the question arises: Why did the Emperor choose not his close aides, not even his son Prince Mutsuhito, but Asahigata, of all people? In The Tamahoko no Hikari, Monjiro Sato speculates how it happened to his master, saying many court nobles of the time treated the bigoted Emperor like a madman and the Emperor virtually had no one to turn to. (Anyone would see the Mikado as crazy if he acted on the Kirigami Shinji revelations, especially the vision of the US-Japan War that would materialize seventy-five years after his death.)

Another theory might be that the Mikado was somehow aware--spiritually, intuitively, or whatever--of the alleged assassination of Prince Mutsuhito and the ensuing usurpation of the Chrysanthemum Throne by Toranosuke Omuro and his loyalists. Surprisingly, how the prince looks and acts is different before and after his enthronement as Emperor Meiji:


Prince Mutsuhito
(before the enthronement)


What is believed to be the
real Prince Mutsuhito
Prince Mutsuhito
(after the enthronement)


What we are led to believe
as Emperor Meiji
He had no pockmarks in his face. He was pitted with smallpox.
During the Kin-mon Incident, the 13-year-old prince lost consciousness at the sound of gunfire and the scream of his court ladies.

♣The Kin-mon Incident--in 1864, pro-Imperial Choshu domain extremists attempt to force their way into Kyoto; the Imperial Court orders the Shogunate to mount a punitive expedition against Choshu.
Riding a horse gallantly, he inspected his Konoe Imperial Guards and shouted a command.
He was born weak and caught cold every year. Even at age 16, he was still playing with his court ladies. The 198-pound giant had sumo bouts with his aides and threw them out of the ring.
His handwriting was illegible, and he was indifferent to politics. He wrote quite neatly, and he was a well-educated, highly-motivated learner.
He could not ride a horse. He rode a horse to inspect his troops at a parade during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi.

♣The Battle of Toba-Fushimi--in 1868, Tokugawa soldiers fight against the federation of Satsuma and Choshu domains in Toba and Fushimi (Kyoto); it leads to the Boshin Civil War of 1868-69, where Shogunate loyalist forces are defeated in a series of battles. 


Though a lowly guard, Asahigata is presumed to have played a uniquely important role in the liaison between court nobles and anti-Shogunate reformers. The Asahigata Shoden (one of the four booklets found at Mr. Deguchi's residence) reports that he was acquainted with such noted revolutionaries as Takamori Saigo, Yoshitaka Kido, Masujiro Omura, Toshimichi Okubo, and Ryoma Sakamoto. Also conceivable is his association with Prince Taruhito of the imperial house of Arisugawa because the prince himself was proactive in finding ways to topple the Tokugawa regime and in the process knew those Meiji revolutionaries. A framed calligraphy by Prince Taruhito hangs at the shrine Asahigata built for the late Emperor Komei.


Emperor Komei's posthumous command

Besides providing Asahigata with the Kirigami Shinji and its prophetic messages, Emperor Komei asked him to fulfill the next command:
When the year turns to 2600 by the imperial calendar (= Showa 15 [A.D. 1940]), the United States will invade Japan to seize its national flag and the three regalia of the Imperial Family. It will plot to usurp the divine mirror at the Grand Shrines of Ise, the divine sword at Atsuta Shrine, and the divine jewel (Chrysanthemum Throne). I ask you to enshrine my soul in Taketoyo lied midway between Ise and Atsuta upon my death so I can protect the Imperial Nation (Japan).
This Asahigata lived by with all his heart, mind and strength. He had to go through coutless twists and turns before he finally made it. How he got to build a shrine dedicated to the demised emperor will be detailed later.

Now let's take a look at how Asahigata met his disciple, Monjiro Saito.


Monjiro Saito

The Tamahoko no Hikari says Monjiro Sato was born into a rice farming family near Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture on March 9, Meiji 1 (1868). This year was the "year of dragon" according to the Chinese zodiac. After finishing the military draft test, Monjiro visited an acquaintance in Nagoya and began working at a rickshaw firm. He later came to the fore as the most powerful rickshaw man.

In the spring of Meiji 24 (1891), Monjiro and another rickshaw man sent their customers to Nagoya Station, when three people got off the train and asked them for a ride. The customers wanted to go to a sumo stable master's residence. The strongest Monjiro decided to carry the largest sumo-wrestler-looking man. He was Kametaro Asahigata. This is how fate had them meet.

Since then Asahigata had always asked for Monjiro whenever he went to and from the stable master's, showing affection to the rickshaw man by calling him, "Sato-san, Sato-san." One day, Asahigata asked Monjiro how old he was, and Monjiro said he was born in the year of the dragon. Hearing that Monjiro was born in the year of the dragon, the sumo wrestler started begging the rickshaw man to become his disciple for some reason. Eventually Monjiro became Asahigata's disciple.

In the Tamahoko no Hikari , Monjiro confessed that under Asahigata's tutelage, his philosophy of life underwent a drastic change from the one where the most important thing was money, and the second most important thing was also money to the one where the most important thing was the Emperor, and the second most important thing was his country. He added that this happened in Meiji 24 (1891).

One day in Meiji 25 (1892), the year of the dragon, Asahigata put a sheet of Japanese writing paper and a pair of scissors before Monjiro at the stable master's, straightened up in a solemn posture, and told his disciple as follows:

"Today I'm going to teach you the divine art of the Imperial Nation which the former Emperor Komei taught a humble subject like me. I ask you to learn it with due respect. In teaching me this divine art, the Emperor said the following:
'No one else but I can perform this divine art. Concentrate on learning this art and forget about the Kami or the Emperor. Sometimes we say tsuru no hitokoe (voice of authority), and it refers to this divine art.'
I received the Emperor's tutorial with utmost deference. As such, when you perform this divine art, never do it directly on the tatami mat floor under any circumstances. Keep this in mind."

Monjiro received the divine art with humility, and there were so many wonders that he said that a person like him would not be able to learn all of them. Then Asahigata assured him that his master would assist him in any possible way. Since then, Asahigata had taught Monjiro the Kirigami Shinji whenever he had the chance to do so. By the time he had Goro Yoshida (an Omoto believer) dictate the Tamahoko no Hikari because he was illiterate, Monjiro had been doing this art for 52 years. The booklet was proofread by Jinsai Yuasa, also a senior Omoto member.


Tribulations of Founding a Shrine for the Beloved Emperor

When the year turns to 2600 by the imperial calendar (= Showa 15 [A.D. 1940]), the United States will invade Japan to seize its national flag and the three regalia of the Imperial Family. It will plot to usurp the divine mirror at the Grand Shrines of Ise, the divine sword at Atsuta Shrine, and the divine jewel (Chrysanthemum Throne). I ask you to enshrine my soul in Taketoyo lied midway between Ise and Atsuta upon my death so I can protect the Imperial Nation (Japan).
As mentioned earlier, this is the command that Emperor Komei asked Asahigata to fulfill. Surprisingly, the Emperor predicted the U.S.-Japan war some 75 years after his death!

Accordingly, Asahigata tried for years to obtain permission to build a shrine dedicated to the Emperor in Taketoyo, Aichi Prefecture, but to no avail. The then-Governor of Aichi Prefecture joined him in his efforts, but again, no permission was granted. In Meiji 28 (1895), he even moved to Taketoyo to drive up his campaign, but again and again, he did not succeed.

Why was no permission granted to build a shrine for Emperor Komei despite the help of Aichi Governor? Meiji Shrine (dedicated for Emperor Meiji and Empress Dowager Shoken) was built in Taisho 4 (1915) just three years after the Emperor's death. But why not for Emperor Komei? For some reason, the central government may have had a low estimation of Komei.

Incidentally, Empress Dowager Shoken was the wife of Emperor Komei, not his mother. Some people believe she preferred to call herself this way, knowing that his husband was different from the Prince Mutsuhito she had known. In fact, historical documents suggest that she maintained a callous and aloof relationship with her husband.

The location of Taketoyo, to which Asahigata moved from Osaka to fulfill Emperor Komei's command, is as follows:


As you can see, Taketoyo stands almost in the middle of Atsuta and Ise. A link of these spots will create an obtuse angle with Taketoyo as its vertex. Why Taketoyo? Honestly, no idea. The Emperor's spiritual sensitivity may have singled it out.


Asahigata's meeting with the Foundress Nao Deguchi.

According to Monjiro's Tamahoko no Hikari , Asahigata said that he had no other choice but to visit the "Great Maitreya Deity" in Ayabe, Tamba for guidance as no permission was granted to build a shrine for Emperor Komei. In Meiji 29 (1896), he and Monjiro walked there.

When they came to the Suchiyama path near Ayabe, Asahigata said, "A holy shrine will be built on this path, so it needs to be clean." Monjiro had no idea what his master was talking about, and he simply followed him over the path to knock on the door of the "Great Maitreya Deity" in Ayabe.

Hearing the term "Great Maitreya Deity," Monjiro had imagined that there would be an impressive shrine, but what he actually saw was a small shabby storehouse of about six tatami-mat size (around 10 square meters). When they went into the house, there was only one elderly woman there.

Despite the poor condition of the place, Asahigata prostrated himself to her with deference.

"You are the Great Maitreya Deity," Asahigata said. "I earnestly request that you confer a divine title on the late Emperor Komei."

"I'm not the one you're looking for," she said. "I'm never such a noble being, and please visit somewhere else."

The elderly woman declined firmly, but Monjiro sensed an inexplicably extraordinary air of dignity and kindness she was exuding. No matter how firmly she declined, Asahigata would not budge an inch and made that plea with all his heart.

Eventually, she gave in and said that she would ask the Kami for it. She moved forward to the humble makeshift altar and worshipped. After a while, she turned around to Asahigata, saying, "The Kami is saying 'Tamahoko no kami ' (Tamahoko deity)."

Asahigata usually remained calm and collected under any circumstances, but on this particular occasion, he could not at all contain his excitment or joy. He thanked her over and over again and headed toward home with great glee.

Monjiro wrote that this elderly woman, who conferred a divine name on the late Emperor Komei, was Nao Deguchi, later known as the founder of Omoto.

Suspecting that Asahigata was somewhat overjoyed and overreacting, Monjiro asked his master why, and he revealed his involvement in the Kinmon Incident of 1864, when he rescued Emperor Komei.


Founding of Tamahoko Shrine

Emperor Komei died on December 25, Keio 2 (1866). His body was laid to rest at Sen-nyuji Temple in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto.

On March 23, Meiji 29 (1897), Asahigata provided the temple with 500 yen in permanent memory of his beloved Emperor, which must have been quite a large sum of money at that time. And in Meiji 30 (1898), he donated 100 yen for holding memorial services for the late Empress Komei.


Sen-nyuji Temple's receipt of 500 yen from Asahigata




Sen-nyuji Temple's receipt of 100 yen from Asahigata


Asahigata's love and respect for Emperor Komei remained unchanged 34 years after his demise.

Asahigata and Monjiro returned triumphantly with the divine name of Emperor Komei, but still, no permission was granted to them to build a shrine in the emperor's honor.

Thanks to Aichi Governor's efforts, it was decided that an old Hachiman shrine in a rural village some 20 kilometers from Nagoya would be moved to Taketoyo, and that the spirit of Emperor Komei would be co-enshrined with the Hachiman deity.

At the same time, Asahigata learned Kokugaku (National Learning) and obtained a certificate as a Shinto priest. This showed how much he was committed to worshipping the spirit of the late Emperor Komei.


Current State of Tamahoko Shrine

On February 20, 1998, Mr. Yasuaki Deguchi and others visited Tamahoko Shrine.

The shrine was located atop a hill. Within its compounds were no visitor-soliciting brochures or paper fortunes. It was exuding an aura of aloofness.


Tamahoko Shrine in 1998



Emperor Komei's gokosho (five-pronged pestles) at Tamahoko



Emperor Komei's hoken (treasure sword)


The current priest of the shrine was Mr. Mitsuhiko Asahigata. He was 92 years old and bedridden due to his encephalomalacia. His wife, Yukino, was 74 years old, and she was the one who welcomed the visitors from Kyoto.


Ms. Yukino Asahigata (left) and Mr. Yasuaki Deguchi (right)



Tamahoko Shrine in 2019 (May 4, Reiwa 1)



Shrine Gate (May 4, Reiwa 1 [2019])



Main Shrine (May 4, Reiwa 1 [2019])



Main Shrine (May 4, Reiwa 1 [2019])



Emperor Komei's 31-syllable waka poem hailing Asahigata's brave
rescue of the emperor (May 4, Reiwa 1 [2019])



A seal distributed at Tamahoko Shrine


Mitsuhiko was the third-generation priest. The second-generation priest, Kamenosuke Asahigata, had no children of his own, and adopted Mitsuhiko and Yukino. Their oldest son, Yukihiko, presently serves as the fourth-generation priest.

Interestingly, Mitsuhiko Asahigata, or Mitsuhiko Wakabayashi by maiden name, used to be an Omoto believer.



To be continued....


Bibliography

Tenno no Densetsu by Media Works. Shufu no Tomo-sha, 1997.

Click to see excerpts
The Dec. 2004 edition of the Mu magazine. Gakken, 2004.

Click to see excerpts
Uragirareta Sannin no Tenno by Noboru Kashima. Shin Kokumin-sha, 1997.
Meiji Ishin no Ikenie by Noboru Kashima, Tetsuo Miyazaki, and Masashi Matsushige. Shin Kokumin-sha, 1998.
The 1998-2003 editions of the Kami no Kuni magazine by the Aizen-en. The Aizen-en, 1998-2003.
Nihonshi no Taboo ni Idonda Otoko by Yoko Matsushige. Tama Shuppan, 2003.
Futari de Hitori no Meiji Tenno by Yoko Matsushige. Tama Shuppan, 2007.
Bakumatsu Ishin no Ango by Masakazu Kaji. Shodensha, 2007.





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