First published: February 9, 2014
Last updated: January 16, 2021

The webmaster is currently translating the Reikai Monogatari ("Tales of the Spirit World") and would like to share it with you.

Although trying best to be as accurate as possible, the webmaster may be mistaken in his translation. Therefore, HE SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES ARISING FROM THE USE OF THIS TRANSLATION. Your understanding on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

The Reikai Monogatari

Volume 1[1]: Volume of the Ne ("Rat")[2] in the Reishu-taiju ("Spirit the master, flesh the servant")[3] series

Author: Onisburo Deguchi

The webmaster's note:
[1] ^ Publication data:
  • Dictated at the Shoun-kaku Hall in Ayabe, Kyoto.
  • Dictated on February 8 and October 18-26, Taisho 10 (1921), plus part of his works dated January of the same year.
  • Dictated by Mr. Toyoji Toyama, Ms. Haruko Kato, Mr. Shigeo Sakurai and Mr. Masaharu Taniguchi.
  • First edition issued on December 30, Taisho 10 (1921).
  • Revised by the author on July 1, Showa 7 (1932).

[2] ^ The first sign of the Japanese eto ("sexagenary cycle") zodiac. Each series of the Reikai Monogatari (except the Tensho-chizui series) consists of 12 volumes bearing the corresponding names of the following 12 zodiac signs:
  1. ne ("rat")
  2. ushi ("ox")
  3. tora ("tiger")
  4. u ("hare")
  5. tatsu ("dragon")
  6. mi ("serpent")
  7. uma ("horse")
  8. hitsuji ("sheep")
  9. saru ("monkey")
  10. tori ("rooster")
  11. inu ("dog")
  12. i ("boar")
[3] ^ The series of the Reikai Monogatari is shown in the table below:

SeriesVolumesNo. of Books
("Spirit the master, flesh the servent")
("Cintamani," or "Wish-fulfilling gem")
("Thousands of miles of seas and
("Outstanding performance as a
living shrine of the Kami")
("Truth, good, beauty and love")
("Mountains, rivers, plants and trees")
(*) Volumes 64 Parts 1 & 2, as well as the Nyumoki ("Onisaburo's Mission in Mongolia") included.
("Auspicious signs of the Mizu-Spirit
in heaven and on earth")

Table of Contents


Basic missionary chant

How it all started

Part 1: Exploration of the yukai ("realm of lost spirits")
    Chapter 1: Training on the sacred mountain
    Chapter 2: Significance of ascetic practices
    Chapter 3: Austerities in this world
    Chapter 4: Physical asceticism
    Chapter 5: Training in the spirit world
    Chapter 6: A scene from the yachimata ("eight-way crossroads")
    Chapter 7: Judgment at the court of the yukai
    Chapter 8: Emergence of a goddess
    Chapter 9: Wilderness of weeds
    Chapter 10: Second phase of water asceticism
    Chapter 11: Miracle-working nusa ("purification wand")

Part 2: From the yukai to the shinkai ("realm of divinities")
    Chapter 12: Unity of the physical and the metaphysical
    Chapter 13: An encounter with angels
    Chapter 14: Journey into the shinkai I
    Chapter 15: Journey into the shinkai II
    Chapter 16: Journey into the shinkai III
    Chapter 17: Journey into the shinkai IV
    Chapter 18: Situation of the spirit world
    Chapter 19: A blind divine messenger

Part 3: Parting of heaven and earth
    Chapter 20: Emergence of the Sun, Moon and Earth
    Chapter 21: Making and consolidating things on Earth
    Chapter 22: Resignation of the Earth's Supreme Deity Kunitokotachi no Mikoto
    Chapter 23: A great golden bridge
    Chapter 24: Laying of the foundations for a divine age (John) and the integration of divine breaths (Christ)

Part 4: Battle to occupy the Ryugujo ("Castle of the Dragon King")
    Chapter 25: Evil scheme of the Musashi-hiko faction
    Chapter 26: Defeat of the devils' army
    Chapter 27: Desperate defense of the Ryugujo
    Chapter 28: Battle at Mt. Kunlun
    Chapter 29: Ingenious stratagem of the heavenly kami
    Chapter 30: Battle at the bank of the Yellow River
    Chapter 31: A heaven-reaching mountain in a land surrounded by the sea on all sides
    Chapter 32: Three gems
    Chapter 33: Complete destruction of Eden by fire
    Chapter 34: Battle at Mt. Sinai
    Chapter 35: Ultimate secret
    Chapter 36: Ultimate machina

Part 5: Scramble for the gem balls
    Chapter 37: Honorable gem ball of the manifest land
    Chapter 38: Quintessence of the golden water
    Chapter 39: Whereabouts of the white gem ball
    Chapter 40: Whereabouts of the black gem ball
    Chapter 41: Banquet at the grand palace I
    Chapter 42: Banquet at the grand palace II
    Chapter 43: A red-crested white crane
    Chapter 44: An old turtle with its shell overgrown with seaweed
    Chapter 45: Whereabouts of the yellow gem ball
    Chapter 46: A single pine tree on a single islet
    Chapter 47: Fall of the Castle of Eden
    Chapter 48: Demise of Oni-kuma
    Chapter 49: Emergence of Lake Baikal
    Chapter 50: Emergence of the Dead Sea

A supplementary note: About the Reikai Monogatari


    This Reikai Monogatari ("Tales of the Spirit World") summarizes an outline of the explorations into the spirit world as well as the time-immemorial saga of the age of the gods where after the separation of heaven and earth[1] and the subsequent opening of the Ama no Iwato ("Door of the Heavenly Rock-Dwelling")[2], the Deity Kamususanowo no Mikoto tore Yamata no Orochi ("Eight-forked Serpent")[3] running rampant on earth to pieces, finally obtained the treasured Sword Murakumo and offered it to the Progenitor of Heaven[4], manifested absolute sincerity in heaven and on earth, fulfilled the Divine Reign of the Great 567 Deity[5], built the World of Pines[6] and reinstated the Progenitor of the Earth[7] as the Presiding Deity of the Earth's spirit world. The Monogatari also expounds on ku ("suffering"), shu ("source of suffering desire"), metsu ("cessation of suffering") and do ("way leading to the cessation of suffering")[8], and discloses do ("way"), ho ("law"), rei ("courtesy") and setsu ("moderation"); it was never allegorically compiled from events or phenomena of the physical world. However, it is not entirely far from the undeniable truth that events in the shin-kai ("world of divinities") or the yu-kai ("world of lost spirits") will come to appear in the physical world regardless of times or places. Thus I hope that my readers do not interpret or slight such events merely as those happening only in the shin-kai or yu-kai, and that they purify their hearts and souls, amend their words and deeds, and embody the true aim of the reishu-taiju ("spirit the master, flesh the servent") principle.
    I hear that some, among many of my fellow readers, tend to quickly interpret the activities of particular deities as their own past spiritual activities simply because one or two characters of their names appear similar to those of the deities. This is nothing less than a blatant misinterpretation. I give due warning to my readers.

        October 20, Taisho 10 (1921), 1:00 p.m.

At Shoun-kaku Hall, penned by Zuigetsu[9]  Onisaburo Deguchi

The webmaster's note:
[1] ^ For reference, see SECT. I. - THE BEGINNING OF HEAVEN AND EARTH of the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

[2] ^ Opening up of the cave entrance. According to the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki ("Chronicles of Japan"), the Sun Goddess Amaterasu o-mikami hid herself in a rock cave and sealed the entrance door, turning the world into total darkness. Various deities collaborated in enticing her out with a strategem. With the cave entrance opened up and Amaterasu out, the divine light was restored to the world. See SECT. XVI. - THE DOOR OF THE HEAVENLY ROCK-DWELLING.

[3] ^ For reference, see SECT. XVIII. - THE EIGHT-FORKED SERPENT.

[4] ^ Another phrase for the Supreme Deity of Heaven.

[5] ^ Also termed the Age of Maitreya. "567" of the Great 567 Deity represents Mi(5)-ro(6)-ku(7), or Miroku, which is the Japanese transliteration of "Maitreya."

[6] ^ Equal to the Age of Maitreya. In Japan, pine trees symbolize longevity and happiness because they keep their green leaves even in the severest cold of winter.

[7] ^ Another phrase for the Earth's Supreme Deity, Kunitokotachi no Mikoto.

[8] ^ The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

[9] ^ A pseudonym of Onisaburo Deguchi. It means "Udumbara Chandra," or "Auspicious Moon."

Basic Missionary Chant

Whether the morning sun shines or clouds,
whether the moon becomes full or wanes,
should the earth sink,
should evil deities rage,
the Power of the Truth shall save the world.

The Plum Blossom of the Whole Universe[1],
shall burst open with the Divine Teachings.
The Blossom shall open, fall and bear fruit,
know the blessings of the Moon, Sun and Earth.
To save this world, the living shrines of the Kami,
shall assemble in the Plain of High Heaven[2].

The Kami shall manifest Himself in the open,
sorting out good from evil,
the Divine-Rectifying-Wondrous Deity[3] is a creator of this world,
the Great-Rectifying-Wondrous-Deity[3] has a generous heart.
Simply anything in the human world,
must be reviewed against the direct portion of the Kami[4],
errors in human acts must be rectified by chanting the Words of the Kami.

The webmaster's note:
[1] ^ The Japanese equivalent, sanzen sekai, is based on the Buddhist cosmology where the whole universe consists of a billion worlds.

[2] ^ In Japanese, Taka-ama-hara. For reference, see SECT. I. - THE BEGINNING OF HEAVEN AND EARTH of the Kojiki by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

[3] ^ The Kamu-naohi and the Oh-naohi, respectively. For reference, see SECT. X. - THE PURIFICATION OF THE AUGUST PERSON.

[4] ^ Naohi. As the quintessential soul of the highest good and beauty, it intuitively judges good and evil, and guides a human being to which it belongs in the right direction.

How it all started

    On February 9 (by Japan's old lunisolar calendar), Meiji 31 (1898), I was taken by a divine messenger to sacred Mt. Takakuma in Anao, Tamba, where I completed a weeklong spiritual asceticism. Thereafter I fully understood and learned the outline of clairvoyance[1], divine hearing[2], awareness of the minds of myself and others[3], ability to utter or impart divine words[4], and knowledge of the previous lifetimes of myself and others[5]. While I owe what I am today to the teachings of the Divine, I have undergone kaleidoscopic upheavals, and innumerable twists and turns. Rebellion by former executives of Omoto[6], estrangement of believers, misunderstanding by the authorities, persecution from religionists, all-out attacks from my kith and kin, abusive vilification and scornful derision found in newspapers and books - all of these and others baffle any written or oral description. I will indeed wholeheartedly show a part of the 24-year circumstances of Omoto since its foundation quite briefly by recalling it from my memory.
    At the Ryugu-yakata ("Palace of the Dragon King")[7], there is a clear distinction between the two major divine lineages: the henjo-nanshi ("transformed male")[8] and the henjo-nyoshi ("transformed female")[9]. The henjo-nanshi had prophesied the emergence of a divine rule, given warnings, suffered all kinds of hardships to impart divine revelations, baptized people's bodies and spirits with water and awaited the rebirth, the second coming of the Christ. John had been crying in the wilderness for almost seven years by the time she first met the Christ. The physical shrine of the henjo-nanshi is female in body and male in spirit, and she participated in the divine work of the Izu no Mitama for the first time at age 57[10]. She had entirely baptized both the spiritual and physical systems of this filthy and corrupt world with a full 20 years of water baptism spanning from January 1, Meiji 25 (1892) to January 1, Meiji 45 (1912), thereby displaying the divine scheme for remodeling the world. I think that occurrences like that great war in Europe[11] constituted a part of the commencement of the divine work by the Izu no Mitama and represented one great warning in the Whole Universe[12].
    The physical shrine of the henjo-nyoshi has the divine mission of participating in and serving the divine work of the Mizu no Mitama, and of baptizing all people in the world with fire. He participated in the divine work on February 9 by Japan's old lunisolar calendar, Meiji 31 (1898) and had almost completed a full 20 years of spiritual divine work by February 9, Taisho 7 (1918). The modern taishu-reiju ("flesh the master, spirit the servant") era, which has become infatuated with or been cumulatively deluded by almighty materialism and atheistic-anatmanistic theories, has slightly reached the realm of awakening and increasingly recognized the existence of divine spirits by day and night. I believe this is the outcome of the great divine workings in motion and never a product of human intelligence or power.
    The physical shrine of the henjo-nanshi initiated the divine work of John, which involved the laying of the foundations for a divine age. For as many as 27 years since then, she had conveyed the Kami's messages in writing with a writing brush, thereby promoting the great remodeling of both the spiritual and physical worlds. Even after entering the spiritual world, she has continued to serve the divine work.
    Next the henjo-nyoshi has the divine mission of serving the 30-year divine work, anticipating the fulfillment of the Divine Reign of the Great 567 Deity[13], leading the world to virtue and basking in the blessings of the Divine. This year marks a full 23 years of his service to the divine work. The remaining seven years will be an enormous challenge for him to complete his most critical mission.
    The Omoto Shinyu[14] says,
    "The Kami will spend 30 years scrapping and rebuilding the bodies and spirits of mankind."
    The fulfillment of the 30-year divine work of the henjo-nanshi will be January 1, Taisho 11 (1922), and that for the henjo-nyoshi will be February 9, Taisho 17 (1928). There is a line in the Omoto Shinyu that reads:
    "Scrapping and rebuilding of the body and spirit of mankind."
    When I think well about the above line, I find that it is a divine revelation for the 30-year revamping of both body and spirit with primarily a water baptism, which is the divine work to be performed by John, and also for the revamping of spirit with a body-spirit baptism, which requires around 30 years. However, 30 years as revealed by the Divine is an approximate number and never a definitive one. I do not think this time span can possibly escape expansion, contraction, fastness or slowness. In short, while the divine policy is constant and immutable, it may be inevitably subjugated to modifications, depending on the levels of self-improvement that humans as servants of the Divine can achieve for their bodies or spirits, for they are endowed with an innate mission to administer the affairs of heaven and earth.
    The Omoto Shinyu says,
    "Remodeling of the world would be brilliantly achieved if there were even a few who truly understood the heart of the Ancestral Kami of Heaven and Earth. But there is no one who understands the truths of the divine world, and the Kami cannot come out in the world forever. Mend your ways as soon as possble. Once a person begins to understand, everyone else will begin to understand. But the key people do not understand, and there must be a reason for it. The divine work will lag behind if the Kami waits for them to become naturally aware. It is utterly impossible for those body-spirits who will understand only after they are taught to play a part in the divine work because it requires heartfelt repentance...."
    One cannot completely serve the greatest divine work of all time unless one comes to understand the actual design of the Kami. The Omoto Shinyu touches on the scrapping and rebuilding of the mitama ("body and spirit") of mankind. Many people seem to think that the term mitama refers only to a person's spirit or soul. Mi of mitama indicates "physical body" or "material world," and tama, "spirit," "mind," "divine world" and others. In the universe, tama is the main source of every being with mi playing a subordinate role for the tama. It is the Deity Oh Kunitokotachi no Kami, the Progenitor of the Earth that will force through the revamping of the physical body or the material world, whereas it is the divine right of the Deity Toyokuninushi no Kami[15] to push through the revamping of the mental world or the world of spirits and divinities. Hence the spiritual world is the master and the physical world is the servant throughout the entire universe. This state is called the Reishu-taiju ("Spirit the master, flesh the servent").
    Those mitama who practice the Reishu-taiju are described as mitama of hinomoto ("spiritual origin"), while those mitama who practice the Taishu-reiju ("flesh the master, spirit the servant") are called mitama of chishiki ("self-love and self-wisdom"). The Reishu-taiju mitama are those of divinities and humans who prefer to take whatever action that suits the laws of heaven and earth, always devote themselves to the public and the world, consider it their desire to perform sacrificial deeds, exhibit the great spirit of the utmost truth, good, beauty and honesty, and serve the world-saving divine work. The Taishu-reiju mitama refer to evil deities and humans with hearts like those of wolves or jackals who indulge in self-interests and selfish desires, are not awed by gods of heaven and earth, value corporeal desires, bother their heads only with food, clothing and shelter, flock together for a profit and disperse for a profit, always act wide of the mark, attach weight to egotism, lack a sense of duty and know no mercy.
    The Great Kami of Heaven first created the two beings - Adaru-hiko[16] and Eba-hime[17] - and made them the progenitors of the human body. Having the divine Reshu-taiju tree bear the Taishu-reiju[18] fruit, the Great Kami ordered them, saying,
    "You shall not eat this fruit."
    The Great Kami tested them to see what their dispositions are like. Driven by their fleshly desires, the two eventually violated the order and incurred the wrath of the Great Kami.
    Since then woeful and fiendish airs of the Taishu-reiju have been generated in the world, resulting in the budding of evil elements in the realms of divinities and humans.
    That being said, some people may wonder aloud,
    "The Kami is omniscient and omnipotent. Why did He not nip the Taishu-reiju in the bud and remodel the progenitors of the human body? Why has He left the progenitors of the Taishu-reiju to create the wicked sphere, thereby inflicting suffering on Himself as to how to handle the challenge? We cannot help but doubt the existence of the Kami and His power."
    This is a truly ingenious and most reasonable argument."
    However, the Divine does not have the slightest sense of favouritism, nor is there any regression in His work. It goes against the sequence of natural events in heaven and on earth to alter any divine work that is once implemented as a law laid down yesterday cannot be easily changed today or an arrow released from a bow cannot come back in mid-trajectory. Herein lies the solemn authority of the Kami, not allowing the first divine generation of the age of the gods to modify or correct any divine work already launched. Additionally, no divine commands shall be changed once they are issued. Should the Kami often change commands He issues, it would plunge the universe in total disorder, paving the way for reckless indiscretion in the end. An old proverb says, "Samurai warriors never go back on their word," and the Divine, who presides over the universe, much more so.
    The Omoto Shinyu also says,
    "Even the Kami cannot beat the times. If one bides one's time, the time will come when even parched beans will flower, and similarly, the time will come when the ousted deities will be back in the world to resume their missions. Nothing is as frightening yet fascinating as the times...."
    As indicated above, there is nothing even the Divine in heaven and on earth can do about the power of "time."
    The time has dawned to fulfill the long-awaited emergence of the Maitreya Deity 5.67 billion years[19] after the separation of heaven and earth[20]. For the Maitreya Deity to descend to earth, achieve great reforms of the three realms[21] and realize the World of Pines[22], the time is drawing near to establish pillars of kami[23], to expound on ku ("suffering"), shu ("source of suffering desire"), metsu ("cessation of suffering") and do ("way leading to the cessation of suffering")[24], to disclose do ("way"), ho ("law"), rei ("courtesy") and setsu ("moderation"), to reward good and punish evil, to propagate teachings of the utmost benevolence and utmost love, to reveal heavenly rules for good reign and peace and to expand just rule throughout heaven and earth in accordance with the will of divine providence.
    Nothing gratifys me more than having been born in the several billion-year transition period to the unprecedented age of sacred reign and being blessed with the opportunity to engage in divine work.
    The Omoto Shinyu says,
    "The Kami is the all-pervading Spirit of the Universe, and man is the priest who administers the workings of heaven and earth."
    Ah, when could I ever serve the divine work of heaven ad earth other than in this era?
    Oh, let alone people in the divine land who were born in the land made happy by kototama[25], the land shone by kototama, the land of living kototama, the land helped by kototama, the land created by the Kami and the land filled with divine virtues. I am grateful for the magnitude and profundity of divine blessings and therefore feel obliged to repay the infinite debt to the Progenitor of the Earth[26].

The webmaster's note:
[1] ^ One of the six supernormal Buddhist powers.

[2] ^ One of the six supernormal Buddhist powers.

[3] ^ Based on one of the six supernormal Buddhist powers: Awareness of the minds of others.

[4] ^ In Japanese, ten-gen-tsu. This is not included in the six supernormal Buddhist powers.

[5] ^ One of the six supernormal Buddhist powers.

[6] ^ Literally, "Great Origin." It was founded by Onisaburo Deguchi.

[7] ^ It may refer to Omoto in the physical world.

[8] ^ One who is female in body and male in spirit. It may refer to Nao Deguchi in Omoto.

[9] ^ One who is male in body and female in spirit. It may refer to Onisaburo Deguchi in Omoto.

[10] ^ The ages mentioned in this sacred text are based on the kazoedoshi method of age counting where a baby is counted as one year old at birth (after only nine months in the womb) and thereafter becomes a year older at every New Year, rather than on its birthday. This results in people usually being one or two years older than by western calendar.

[11] ^ Synonymous with World War I in 1914-1918.

[12] ^ The Japanese equivalent, sanzen sekai, is based on the Buddhist cosmology where the whole universe consists of a billion worlds.

[13] ^ Also termed the Age of Maitreya. "567" of the Great 567 Deity represents Mi(5)-ro(6)-ku(7), or Miroku, which is the Japanese equivalent of "Maitreya."

[14] ^ The Divine Revelation of Omoto. It is a compilation of Nao Deguchi's Ofudesaki ("Tip of the Writing Brush") messages from Deity Kunitokotachi no Mikoto that have been edited by Onisaburo Deguchi.

[15] ^ The "Luxuriant Earth Master Deity." In the Monogatari, this deity is depicted as the wife of the Earth's Supreme Deity, Kunitokotachi no Mikoto, providing assistance to her husband.

[16] ^ Synonymous with Adam in the Bible.

[17] ^ Synonymous with Eve in the Bible.

[18] ^ Ruby characters above the term Taishu-reiju read "chishiki," or "knowledge."

[19] ^ The webmaster thinks that this number should be taken figuratively, not literally.

[20] ^ For reference, see SECT. I. - THE BEGINNING OF HEAVEN AND EARTH of The Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

[21] ^ The realm of divinities, the realm of lost spirits, and the realm of physical matters.

[22] ^ Equal to the Age of Maitreya. In Japan, pine trees symbolize longevity and happiness because they keep their green leaves even in the severest cold of winter.

[23] ^ In Shinto, deities are counted in pillars (e.g. three pillars of kami). Here establishing pillars of kami probably means descending/manifesting deities or gaining/fostering believers who can act as or represent deities.

[24] ^ The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

[25] ^ Literally translated as "word spirit," it refers to mystical power believed to reside in spoken words of the Japanese.

[26] ^ Another phrase for the Earth's Supreme Deity, Kunitokotachi no Mikoto.

Part 1: Exploration of the yukai ("realm of lost spirits")

Chapter 1: Training on the sacred mountain  〔1〕

    Mt. Takakuma ("High Bear") was originally named Mt. Takamikura ("Imperial Throne") in ancient times and later called Mt. Takakura ("High Throne") or Mt. Takakura ("High Storehouse") and finally corrupted to Mt. Takakuma ("High Bear"). It is a hill in the mountain recesses of Anao, a village in the Tamba region of Kyoto, and in olden days was the former site of Obata Shrine dedicated to Emperor Kaika[1] with its status officially recognized in the Engi-shiki[2]. It is also a sacred mount with village seniors' legend that when Emperor Buretsu[3] tried to pick his successor, the Prince of Anao hid himself in Mt. Takakura and spent the rest of his life there, and that not knowing the prince's whereabouts by any means, Emperor Buretsu had no choice but to scout around for a descendant of the imperial family and abdicate the throne in favor of his pick named Emperor Keitai[4]. Moreover, there has been a mystery shrouding Mt. Takakuma since ancient times:
    Golden roosters kept 1,000 koban[5] under mitsubatsutsuji[6] plants in Mt. Takakura against the shining morning or glowing evening sun.
    It is said that an unknown bird had occasionally sung to impart the mystery to villagers. Every time I climbed the mountain, I searched for mitsubatsutsuji stocks but always ended up empty-handed. In the spring of Taisho 9 (1920), I climbed the mountain again. While I was taking a rest, I found the mitsubatsutsuji growing under my feet. It was then that I was able to unravel the mystery of the message.
    The "shining morning" means that a golden age will come when the authority of the Heavenly Sun Deity will shine out far and wide to all eight corners of the world with the momentum of the rising sun and, like the glowing evening sun, cover other nations with divine virtue. It is a riddle from the divine world that divine authority and spritual virtue have been kept secret in this sacred mountain.
    "Mitsubatsutsuji" implies the Three August Deities, or the Mizu Spirit. The kototama[7] of "tsutsuji" refers to eternal immutability. As for "kept 1,000 koban under," oban[8] means "upper (class of society)" while koban, "lower (class of society)." And unshakably firm power is called "ban". In other words, koban ("small former Japanese oval gold coins") is synonymous with koban ("small banner (pataka)") or koban ("place where divine teachings become manifest"). I surmise with awe that there is a profound divine plan behind the enshrinement of the tutelary shrine[9] in Anao with its enshrined deity being Emperor Kaika. Looking back, I never think it was a mere coincidence that on February 9, Meiji 31 (1898), I was led to this mountain and ordered to go through week-long asceticism by Matsuoka the Fuyo Sennin ("Immortal Mountain Wizard in Mt. Fuji"), a messenger of Konohanasakuya-hime no Mikoto enshrined at Fuji Sengen Shrine.
    The speed at which I developed my spiritual power during the training on Mt. Takakuma at the mercy of the divine instructions was quite rapid. I thought that my spiritual research had progressed more quickly than trains, airplanes or lightning. It was like the progress in which, for example, a kindergarten pupil graduated from college and assumed the position of a doctor of philosophy instantaneously. I was able to become lucid about the past, present and future, and to perceive the secrets of the divine world to the point where I acquired complete knowledge of what would happen in the physical world in hundreds, nay, thousands of years. It is regrettable, however, that I am not allowed to disclose the details today as they all belong to the mysteries.

Chapter 2: Significance of ascetic practices  〔2〕

    Many people generally seem to regard ascetic practices for the spirit world only as going deep in the mountains and undergoing austerities and penance to renounce the world. They tend to pride themselves on the misguided completion of thorough ascetic practices where they become barefoot or naked, shut themselves up in shrines dedicated to mountain deities, fast, keep from taking baths, stop cooking food, devote themselves to offering prayers to the Kami and Buddha, and dare to perform bizarre behavior and eccentric asceticism.
    Given that every daily work is asceticism, it is the primary asceticism of humans to perform as great activities as possible in the physical world from the perspective of the truth of the physical-metaphysical congruence or the body-soul agreement. For humans to abandon activities in the human world and seclude themselves into mountain forests to become infatuated with suspicious austerities and eccentric activities even for a month is tantamount to month-long damage to society, relegating them to the status of lazy workers or idle workers for the divine world. It is imperative that the first requirement of all ascetic practices for the divine world should be devotion to activities that promote creation, evolution, progress and development in the physical world.     As is often the case with some well-bred or well-educated believers in Omoto, if one avoids hardships and takes the easy way out, saying "Kamunagara, kamunagara" ("As the Kami pleases, as the Kami pleases"), one will deserve condemnation as an extremely outragious and inexcusable person from the perspective of the divine world. Such a person not only lacks even a little sense of responsibility, but also neglects to serve the divine way that he or she is supposed to serve. Or rather he or she is always obstructing the divine work and offering his or her complaints to the divine world. This is what is called yomotsu shikobito ("wicked beings of the land of Hades")[10].
    The Omoto Shinyu says,
    "Beware of ochimusha[11] of the world as they emerge."
    One should contemplate the significance of this line. Ascetic practices for the divine world are nothing to be lightly treated or easily achieved. Some readers may retort that I am flagrantly contradicting myself when I criticize others for pushing their way into mountain forests to practice aceticism because I also practiced aceticism at Mt. Takakuma for a week. Until then, however, I had practiced grievous austerities in the secular world for 27 years. The training on the sacred mountain was the unprecedented once-in-a-lifetime real aceticism which would amount to my commencement ceremony capping those austerities.
    Some people may question my credibility and accuse me of being grandiloquent when I said that it took me only about a week to be able to see into the three major realms[12] of the spirit world, whereas it took even Siddhartha Gautama several years of asceticism at Mount Dandaka to create Buddhism. Siddhartha Gautama was born as the crown prince of the Kapilavastu to King Suddhodana in ancient India. Since he was a son from a wealthy family who had never encountered the grim reality of society, he needed to undergo all manner of hardships for several years. In contrast, I was born into an extremely poor family and had since my childhood gone through all sorts of social hardships and privations. By the time I climbed to Mt. Takakuma, I had completed my asceticism in the physical world and even been acquainted to some extent with the metaphysical world.

Chapter 3: Austerities in this world  〔3〕

    While on Mt. Takakuma for training, I was ordered to undergo one-hour training in the divine realm of the spirit world in portion to two-hour training in the physical realm. But I found the one-hour training in the divine realm dozens of times more grueling than the two-hour training in the physial realm. My training in the physical realm involved wearing only an underwear kimono in a bleak wintry sky and remaining quietly and silently seated on a rock without eating a single meal or drinking a single glass of water for a week. During that time, rain fell and cold winds blew. I heard no voice of a fox or badger, not even the chirping of insects. Yet such eerie sounds as if a mountain collapsed, and unspeakably repulsive and bloodcurdling eerie voices reached my ears from time to time. It might have been a desolate or frightening sight, but actually words failed to describe it. I grew anxious to hear the live voice of any living animal or take a look at it, whether it be a fox, badger, tiger or wolf, if it appeared before me. While I was thinking that nothing would assist humans more than living creatures, a dark shadow anmimal came out of the bamboo grass by my side with rustling steps one shaku (about a foot) before me as I was seated quietly. I could not clearly recognize it in the darkness, but it seemed like an extremely large bear.
    Old villagers often told me that the guardian of this mountain was a huge bear. And they also told me that if the huge bear found a person in the night, it would tear the person limb from limb and hang the dismembered body on pine branches before leaving. My heart skipped a beat just thinking that this huge bear, alas, might tear me to death this night.
    Convinced that it was best to leave everything to the Kami, I composed myself by focusing my mind on the pit of the stomach. As a result, the huge bear, which I had thought was horrifying, actually proved to be a great help, and its roar became dear and nostalgic to me. I aptly felt that the Living Soul of the Merciful Kami dwelt in all creatures of the world.
    Even savage beasts can help one when one feels lonely, let alone mankind as the lord of creation. Alas, how disrespectful to the Kami I had been in my daily life by hating, angering, belittling, tormenting or thinking nothing of people in the world. The Spirit of the Kami dwells in every human - even sworn enemies or villains. Humans are living shrines of the Kami. Not just humans, but all the flora and fauna are also necessary strength and reliance for us, and fragments of the Kami.
    Under no circumstances can one live all by oneself. One will go against the Way of Man if one forgets the four debts of gratitude[13]. Humans should be interdependent, mutually helping one another. If a creature is called a human, it does not matter whether he or she has the mind of a demon or snake. He or she needs to be cherished. What a contradiction it would be for humans to hate, envy or compete with one another out of subtle emotions or calculation of interests? Humans are living shrines of the Kami. Where could one find kamis who would stand by one without humans?
    In the divine realm of the spirit world, deities are the primary source of strength and reliability, while in the physical realm, it is humans who are true and august living deities, providing assistance for us. As I thought this way deep in my heart, I came to strongly realize that humans are august and gracious beings, and that treating them rudely would go against the Will of the Divine in heaven and earth.
    This is how my merciful heart for all creation began to bud. It was also a basic practical training for me to serve the great honorable work of the Divine. Oh, kamunagara tamachihaemase[14].

Chapter 4: Physical asceticism  〔4〕

    Next what I felt primarily thankful for was water. During the week of the training, I was not allowed to put a single drop of water into my mouth. I got thirstier with each passing moment. It was indescribable pain and suffering. I yearned for something moist, and even for muddy water. I could have chewed some leaves to get a little moisture from them, but the no-eating/drinking order from the divine realm during the training prohibited me from putting even a single leaf nearby into my mouth. Moreover, I felt hungrier and became less energetic with each passing moment. But I could not taste even a morsel of the soil because the Kami did not allow me to. Nothing gave my knees more pain and suffering than sitting quietly on the rugged rock. The wind was piercingly cold.
    The moment I looked up at the sky, some pine needle dew was swung by the wind after the rain, and a drop of the dew fell on my lips. I licked it without thinking. This single drop of the pine needle dew tasted so good as if it were honeydew or anything beyond description.
    From the above experience, it is a shame and lack of respect for the Divine to complain about precious water heated or boiled over a fire being lukewarm or too hot.
    Not a single leaf of a tree or plant was given to me without the Kami's permission. No matter how many clothes I had, I was not allowed to wear more than the Kami allowed me to. My training was like going through the Buddhist purgatory of hunger where pretas, or hungry ghosts, are belived to reside. But it helped me awake to the benefits of water and perceive the great blessings of food, clothing and shelter. I totally owe it to this training that I have been able to enjoy my life with nothing but gratitude, neither dreaming of any extravagance nor showing any surprise or sorrow at any adversity, or rather remaining calm and unperturbed in the face of any opposition, invective, derision or other social events, for which I truly feel grateful, and which are more than I deserve.
    One thing that is more precious and thankful to humans than food, clothing and shelter is air. We will seldom die without food or drink for 10 or 20 days, but without air even for a mere few minutes, we will have only to face instant death. I thought it would be an infinite blessing of the Divine for me to be allowed to breathe air during this training.
    We need to appreciate the benefits of air, as well as the great blessings of food, clothing and shelter. What I have described so far is about the this-worldly, i.e. physical aspect of my training on Mt. Takakuma. But it still fell far short of my training in higher spiritual planes, which was tens of times, nay, hundreds of times more rigorous and difficult.

Chapter 5: Training in the spirit world  〔5〕

    The spirit world consists of the three major realms of the tenkai ("Heaven"), the jigokukai ("Hell"), and the chu-u-kai ("Bardo"). The tenkai is where righteous deities or souls of righteous people live in peace, whereas the jigokukai is a den of evil deities or where the wicked go down. And the tenkai is a divine abode of supreme good, supreme beauty, supreme lucidity, and supreme bliss. The tenkai is divided into the ten-no-shinkai ("Divine Realm in Heaven"), and the chi-no-shinkai ("Divine Realm on Earth"), with each shinkai further divided into three sub-realms, where souls of three different high to low grades dwell accordingly. Similarly, the jigokukai is divided into the ne-no-kuni ("Land of Roots"), and the sonko-no-kuni ("Land of the Bottom"), with each land further divided into three sub-lands, or penal abodes of the greatest evil, the greatest ugliness, the greatest cold, and the greatest suffering where souls go down depending on the gravity or severity of their sins. I will now show you a summary diagram of the tenkai, the jigokukai and other components of the great spirit world according to the permission I was granted from the Divine.
    The general overview of the Spirit World is as follows:

("Spirit World")
Tenkai ("Heaven") / Shinkai ("Divine Realm"):
  - Three levels of ten-no-shinkai ("Divine Realm in Heaven")
  - Three levels of chi-no-shinkai ("Divine Realm on Earth")
Chu-u-kai ("Bardo") / Seireikai ("World of Ghosts"):
  - Jozaikai ("Purgatory")
Jigokukai ("Hell") / Yukai ("World of Lost Spirits"):
  - Three levels of ne-no-kuni ("Land of Roots")
  - Three levels of sonko-no-kuni ("Land of the Bottom")

    The Spirit World can be broadly summarized as above. Guided by Matsuoka the Fuyo Sennin ("Immortal Mountain Wizard in Mt. Fuji"), I started out on an expedition to the Spirit World. Needless to say, only my soul went on the expedition with my physical body sitting upright on Mt. Takakuma.
    I continued to travel hundreds of thousands of ri [15] at a greater speed than airships, without setting foot on anything, for almost 10 minutes, when the Fuyo Sennin stopped suddenly, looked back at me, and said, "Finally, here we are at the gateway to the Spirit World."
    We stood at the bank of an extremely large river. This river appeared to be very deep at a glance, but it was not so when I crossed it. Mysteriously, my dark blue clothes instantly turned pure white. Is it because they were washed by the water? I did not think any part of my clothes was dipped into the water, but they all turned clean white from the lower ends up to the shoulders. I crossed this large river, whose name I did not know, to the other bank with the Fuyo Sennin. As I was watching the water flow, I was surprised to find that, mysteriously, what appeared to be the flow of the water I thought I was watching was actually millions, nay, myriads of giant serpents swarming with their heads reared up and their tongues flicked out. Then what looked like many travelers came crossing the river one after another with the bottoms of their kimono rolled up in a manner similar to what I did, probably because they thought of the river as large. Mysteriously, their clothes each changed into different colors. Some changed into black while others, into yellow or dark brown. Still others suddenly changed into other miscellaneous colors. Out of nowhere appeared five or six fierce-looking men. They stopped those individuals by calling out their names and attached what seemed like a ticket on their respective clothes. Then they urged them to stand up and leave quickly. Each of the travelers walked forward about one ri [15], when they found what looked like a government office. From there four or five guards appeared, stripping the travelers of their tickets and outer garments. Some were stripped of one garment, whereas others were stripped of two or all, depending on the changed color patterns of their clothes. Still others were stripped of no garments but were clothed with one or a few, or even seven or eight garments taken from other travelers before leaving the office with their clothes weighing heavily. I saw the guards accompany individual travelers to their designated locations.

Chapter 6: A scene from the yachimata ("eight-way crossroads")  〔6〕

    Here we are at the yachimata, or eight-way crossroads, in the nether world. In the middle of the crossroads is a government office of the Spirit World. Many frightening bull- or horse-head guards are coming out of the office. Some wear clothes made from the hides of ferocious animals. Others are stark naked with animal hide loincloths on, holding thief catchers, hand-held spears, saws, axes, iron rods, long tongs or others. Guided by the Fuyo Sennin, I was going deeper and deeper into the office. One of the guards, an ogre-faced man who looked like the head of an organisational section, welcomed us as he was walking with his long sword as a cane.
    "Thank you for coming all the way here," the guard said to the Fuyo Sennin, making a polite greeting despite his scary face. "What brings you to the nether world today?"
    Surprised by the guard's unexpected reaction, I was simply hearing them talk and respond.
    The Fuyo Sennin reciprocated the guard's greeting and said, "It is with a mission from the Great Kami that I have guided an important trainee here. In other words, this sei-rei [16] standing right next to me. This time he has missions related to the three realms of the Spirit World, namely, the physical realm, the divine realm, and the realm of lost spirits. First of all, he has come here for his training and also to inspect the nether world. This sei-rei is the soul of mitsubatsutsuji [6] plants having been kept secret since ancient times in Mt. Takakura in Tamba. It would be greatly appreciated if you would impart this message to the Great King."
    The Fuyo Sennin made the above request firmly. The guard made a light bow and hurried back into the inner recess of the office. A while later, I heard some noise that made me wonder what was going on.
    I asked the Fuyo Sennin, "What is that noise?"
    "The trainee has come to the nether world," the Fuyo Sennin replied quickly. "So they have to make preparations."
    "Who is the trainee?" I asked, wondering whom he referred to.
    "It is thee," said the Fuyo Sennin. "Whenever the sei-rei of a living, physical being comes to the underworld, it is a rule to temporarily change the interior appearance of the office. Today in particular, they seem to be dismayed at the office because there was no advance notice of our visit from the Divine Realm."
    After a while the door quietly opened over there, and the foregoing guard came out, guiding what looked like several other guards. They gave the two of us a light nod and accompanied us at the front and back through to the inner recess. Seated at the desk on the upper stage of the recess was a grey-haired extraordinary old kami. There was something dignified and gentle about him. Besides, he had quite a beautiful face.
    Crouching his back a little, the Fuyo Sennin approached the old kami on his front right and apparently reported something to him. Other judge-deities lined the middle stage like glittering stars. The old kami looked at me with a graceful, beaming smile of mercy on his face, saying,
    "I'm so delighted to have you here all the way. Please come right over."
    The old kami seated me to his front left. He, the Fuyo Sennin, and I took up a triangular position. As I was seated, I prostrated myself to show respect to the old kami. He also bowed deeply to reciprocate my respect.
    "I have headed this office, have been the King of Hell, for over three thousand years since the Kami of the Universe appointed me as manager of the ne-no-kuni ("Land of Roots") and the sonko-no-kuni ("Land of the Bottom")," said the old kami. "The Destiny of Heaven has favored me now, and my mission as the King of Hell will be completed in a little over a year. You will collaborate with me in the spiritual and physical worlds to join the Great Divine Project of the Universe. I need not explore the World of Lost Spirits as I have presided over it for ages. But you will, because this is the first time you have come here, and you also need to practically study this world for the benefit of both the physical world and the World of Lost Spirits. Otherwise, you would not be able to save the three major worlds of the Spirit World as a divine human with great mercy. It is my earnest request that you explore the Land of Roots and the Land of the Bottom before returning to the physical world. I will invite the tutelary kami of your birthplace now."
    The old kami blew his stone flute mellifluously. Out of nowhere appeared a white-garbed kami riding on a cloud and came before the three of us. The old kami blew his stone flute mellifluously. Out of nowhere appeared a white-garbed kami riding on a cloud and came before the three of us. He respectfully said something to the old kami in an undertone. Then he extended his profuse thanks to the deities seated there. After that, he thanked the Fuyo Sennin for taking care of the member of his community. Finally, he bestowed a book on me, and the moment he infused divine breath into my head, I quickly felt warm in the abdomen, especially the pit of the stomach, making me realize that infinite and boundless power was given to my whole body and soul.

Chapter 7: Judgment at the Court of Yama  〔7〕

    I was granted permission by the Great King to observe the court proceedings together with the tutelary kami and the Fuyo Sennin. I saw the Great King appear at the lofty upper stage. A few shaku (two or three feet) below was the middle stage lined by the officers of the Court of Yama with a fierce and terrifying look on their faces. At the lowest stage, which was the court of justice, many people were lying prostrate in awe. Looking around, I found the travelers crossing the river of the serpents after me already slipped in the large assembly of people waiting for court rulings. I saw not only Japanese, but also many Chinese, Koreans, Westerners and other races. This scene reminded me of the next senryu, or satirical haiku:

    Wrongdoers in paintings of Hell are all Japanese and no foreigners.

From the above senryu, I got skeptical of what I saw. I asked the Fuyo Sennin about this by whispering it in his ear. While I was not sure how he took it, he simply shook his head and would not say anything. I refrained from asking further.
    When I caught a quick glance at the Great King, his facial appearance took me by such surprise that I just about fell on the floor. I was supported by the tutelary kami and the Fuyo Sennin from both sides. Without their care, I could have fainted. The king's gentle and graceful expression on his face beaming with inviolable dignity and a beautiful, infinite smile suddenly went bright red with his eyes hugely enlarged, his mouth stretched from ear to ear, and his tongue breathing fire. Similarly, the officers of the Court of Yama also had such a horrifying look that I could not bring myself to look up at them. The entire courtroom was growing into pandemonium.
    The Great King beckoned one of the officers at the middle stage, and he came humbling himself before the king. He received a book from the king deferentially and went back to his seat. Then he began to call the name of each offender and read out their decision. The guards walked the offenders out of the court sequentially as their names were called. At the Court of Yama, the proceedings were awfully simple - the mere rendering of judgment - and there were no preliminary hearings, appeals, facilities such as the Supreme Court or defense counsel unlike proceedings in the physical world.
    "Why are the court proceedings in the underworld so simple like this?" I looked back at the Fuyo Sennin and asked.
    "There is always erroneous judgment in human courts of justice," said the Fuyo Sennin. "Humans cannot do anything about that which is invisible to the eye, and thus they need to try cases carefully time and again. By contrast, judgment in the Court of Yama is always infallible no matter how simple it may be, because it is judgment rendered by the kami who can fully see through the three major realms of the Spirit World."
    After judgment was pronounced on all the offenders, the Great King rose quietly from his seat and went back to his living room. I was again called to the Great King. As I was gingerly lifting my head, I was surprised to find that his frightening expression on his face had disappeared without a trace and turned back into one of gentleness, benevolence and beauty.
    The Omoto Shinyu [17] says as follows:
    "I have been called a 'demon kami' since olden days, and thereby hangs a tale. The bare soul of Ushitora no Konjin, I manifest myself as a superbly and indescribably gentle deity before a repented, sincere person. But when a person who is motivated by greed, who is swollen-headed, who has an ulterior motive or who harbors hostility against the Divine, even if only slightly, my facial expression soon changes into a frightening one like that of a demon or serpent."
    This particular passage reminded me of my encounter with the Great King in the underworld when I read it for the first time. In addition, when I had the honor of meeting the Foundress[18], I saw her graceful, gentle and benevolent face. I simply could not help but recall the face of the Great King.
    The Great King rose from his seat and approached me. He held my hands firmly with his eyes filled with tears and said, "Mr. Mitsuba[19], will you please take the trouble to undergo ascetic practices of the underworld now? As a messiah of both the physical and metaphysical worlds, you need to achieve practical messianic learning. I very much wish I could offer you some hot water, but taking water, hot or cold, is prohibited during the ascetic practices. Without further ado, will you please start your hands-on training?" The king's voice got even tearful.
    The tutelary kami said to the Great King, "I would be gratified if you would take care of that shrine parishioner of mine." Then the kami of Obata Shrine rode a high cloud and returned somewhere without looking back.
    The Fuyo Sennin also bowed silently to the Great King and hurried away from his seat without saying anything to me. I was a little disconcerted as I was left behind. The king's countenance underwent a drastic change with his eyes shining like a mirror and his mouth stretched from ear to ear, which was so scary that I could not turn my face toward him again. There came the officer who had rendered the king's decisions, taking a guard along with him. The guard took off my white garment and made me change into a gray one before thrusting me out of the first gate.
    Thrust out of the gate, I looked around and found that a straight narrow dirty path ahead was blocked by the dead grass, all of which stuck out like needles of ice. I could not go back, nor could I go forward. I thought about going sideways, but there was a deep and broad trench dug on either side teeming with horrible and repulsive insects. While hesitant about going forward and lost in thought, I saw some suspicious jet-black clouds emerge in the sky, between which what looked like a horrifying ogre was giving me a menacing stare. Chasing after me was a stern-faced guard in Hades wearing a persimmon colored happi coat. He was trying to stab me by means of a sharp spear with a cruciform head. I had no other choice but to move forward as if fleeing.
    Four or five cho (approx. 477 or 597 yd) ahead of me was a broad, deep, and bridgeless river. A casual glance at the river discovered that some people, whom I could hardly distinguish, were swarmed by leeches sucking blood all over their bodies in the water of what looked like dirty blood or pus. Those travelers were wailing in an anguished and rueful voice. I myself had to go over this trench, but alas, how could I leap over such a deep and broad trench without wings? Chasing after me was a red-faced guard with his facial expression transformed into one of an ogre. He was trying to stab me with his sharp spear. I was caught in such a bind that I agonized over what to do instead of weeping because I knew weeping would not provide any solution. All of a sudden I recalled the book bestowed upon me by the tutelary kami a while ago. I took it out from my inside pocket and opened it reverently. It said, "Ama-terasu-oho-kami[20], kamunagara tamachihaemase[21]" in vivid, beautiful handwriting and India ink color. The moment I involuntarily chanted, "Ama-terasu-oho-kami, kamunagara tamachihaemase," I found myself already across the trench to the other side.
    The guard was dejectedly going back the way he had come. As I resumed walking forward with a sigh of relief, it turned severely cold before I knew it, putting me in a tight spot because my limbs were frozen. Then appeared a golden light in such a place as this. While I was stunned by the sight, that orb of light suddenly descended on the ground two or three shaku (approx. two or three feet) before me.

Chapter 8: Emergence of a goddess  〔8〕

    Wonder-struck by the dazzling golden light of the rare orb, I somehow felt encouraged as I gazed at it. The larger the orb grew, the crystal clearer it became, instantly changing into a beautiful goddess. Her whole body was a golden color. She had what the founder of Buddhism described as a purplish golden skin, which was also brilliant and transparent. She wore a white dress and a scarlet divided skirt. She was brimful of love and compassion.
    "I am the kami of lavatories," the goddess said with a smile as she took my hand. "Please allow me to dedicate this to you."
    The goddess drew a scarf of about eight sun (roughly 10 inches) from her bosom and let me hold it in my left hand. Promising a reunion, she turned back into the original golden orb of light, soared high in midair, and headed deeply into the nine-layer clouds for the heavens at lightning speed.
    In those days, I wondered who that goddess was and why she bothered descending into such a desolate realm to bestow such a rare treasure upon me. But my doubts were dispelled when I visited Ayabe in northern Kyoto.
    Foundress Nao Deguchi of Omoto once said as follows:
Kin-katsu-kane-no-kami [22] is shrouded in a golden color from head to toe and is a Konjin of the Earth who has long undergone suffering and tribulation since she was abandoned in the lavatory. With her ascetic practices over, she will manifest herself in the physical world to perform great divine work. Humans could not perform true divine work unless they had such a frame of mind as to clean the lavatory with delight. Besides, people these days are enthusiastic about aiming higher for better positions, but they must show their willingness to enjoy beautifying dirty places if they are ever selected to perform divine work. Otherwise, it would be utterly impossible for them to be entrusted with the divine work of drastically washing and cleaning the whole Spirit World.
Hearing these words, plus finding them indicated in the Omoto Shinyu, I was struck with awe and admired the profundity and subtlety of the Divine Governance.
    After I parted from the goddess, I roamed over hill and dale all alone, with no sun, moon or stars visible in the sky.

    Pushing deep into the mountains, I see no sun or moon
        not even the stars, with some wolves howling.

    At the side of the cold path was a pool of dirty water that looked like a bog or pond. A thirty-something beautiful young man had sunk into it and had been infested with various kinds of vermin. His whole body below his face had totally metamorphosed into earthworms. Then, right before my eyes, even his whole face turned into tens of thousands of maggots. I involuntarily repeated "Ama-terasu-oho-kami and the tutelary kami, kamunagara tamachihaemase" a couple of times or so. Mysteriously, he returned to his original appearance as a beautiful young man and crawled out of the pool. He gave thanks to me with a delighted expression on his face.
    "This suffering befell me," the young man recounted. "Because one of my ancestors committed the sin of having sexual intercourse with a dragon woman. And as a bad successor, I also had sexual intercourse with a dragon woman. These sins put me in this predicament, but thankfully, hearing you chant the divine words, I was instantly saved, as you can see."
    Since this particular episode, I had chanted the divine name of Ama-terasu-oho-kami wholeheartedly when I moved forward. There was no Moon, no crows. Heaven and earth were filled with frost. It was severely cold as if biting my skin. My arms and legs had gone to sleep. When my breath was about to get frozen, I chanted "Ama-terasu-oho-kami, kamunagara tamachihaemase" again. Mysteriously, the divine power of kototama was so phenomenal that warmth came all over my body at once, making my arms and legs feel like being bathed in hot water.
    I could not help shedding cascading tears of gratitude, thinking that this was the proverbial grace of the Kami in hell. Walking along the path 40 to 50 cho (approx. 3 to 4 mi), I reached a cliff. I was compelled to turn back the way I came, when I suddenly realized that a sharp spearhead was dashing five to six sun (approx. 6 to 7 in) before me. I decided to leave everything to the Kami, and while I was slipping on the ice, I looked to the right and found a deep mountain torrent with a loud flow of rapid, splashing water, where a horrendous animal, which I had never seen or whose name I did not know, was clutching in its teeth a traveler fallen into the river. He was floating or sinking in the torrent, doing nothing but cry out for help. The instant I chanted the divine names again, the monster clutching the traveler in its teeth vanished like a bubble.
    The rescued traveler was named Funaki. He followed me with delight. I got a companion, and that made me feel secure to some extent. We were barely able to walk along the precarious cliff some fifty to sixty cho (approx. 3.4 to 4.1 mi), when we reached a dead end. As the two travelers treading the dim path, we were standing still there with our thoughts lost in what to do.
    "Hey, don't let them two get away!" A sudden loud voice boomed from nowhere. I began to hear a boisterous noise incessantly, with hundreds of giant-mouthed monsters, poised for attack, rushing toward us. The two of us were left with no escape and got into a panic. No matter how many times I chanted the divine names, those monsters were closing in on us, without even a hint of retreat. Mysteriously, their faces got metamorphosed into human facial features. What appeared to be the chief fiend among them came dashing at us, wielding a long sword it held. It was about to slay us in a moment, when the gold-skinned goddess in the white dress emerged again with the orb of light. "Wave the scarf I gave you," she said before vanishing in an instant. I took the divine treasure of the scarf out of my bosom and performed purification by waving it vertically and horizontally. Those monsters beat a hasty retreat in the distance. We had no time to feel pleasant relief before a serpent appeared all of a sudden. It opened its giant mouth and swallowed us at a gulp. We were groping our way forward in the serpent's abdomen. This was making us, which had suffered from the cold until then, feel warm as if bathing in warm water. Together with a deafening roar, we were falling into a bottomless abyss tens of thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of feet below.
    When we came to, we found ourselves lying under a waterfall of hundreds of thousands of feet high. Tens of thousands of icicles stood around me. The two of us learned that we had fallen headlong into the ground nadir from this high waterfall. A mere move, even an inch or a tenth of an inch, would make one of those frozen ice swords pierce through me. I could not rise, even if I wanted to. When I looked at Funaki, my companion, he was groaning in agony as he was skewered through his torso with a long sharp ice sword like a fish on a skewer. It was with all my might that I somehow managed to chant "Ama-terasu-ohmi-kami-sama" word for word in a gasping voice. The divine blessing worked instant wonders, freeing Funaki and me from our physicall challenges. The waterfall right before my eyes disappeared without a trace, and all that was left was the overgrown snowy wilderness.
    Sticking out of the snow were different parts of the arms, legs and heads of hundreds of people. Suddenly a roar so deafening as if mountains would collapse sounded from above my head, causing chunks of snow to fall down and bury my whole body. I tried to wave my scarf, but my hands could not move easily. They were like iron-made hands. I went to great lengths to chant "Kamunagara tamachihaemase" word for word. Fortunately, this allowed me to move freely. Looking around, I found Funaki completely buried in the snow with only his hair appearing on the surface. I waved my scarf horizontally over it a few times, and Funaki got out of the snow with a painful look on his face. Again, golden light emerged from a direction of the heavens to illuminate the two of us. The snow covering the wilderness vanished all at once, turning the wilderness into a field of short weeds.
    A great many people smiling broadly prostrated themselves before me, expressed gratitude en masse for the manifestation of the messiah, and showed their willingness to work with the messiah on the divine mission of remodeling the three major realms of the Spirit World. They included business people, educators, doctors, scholars, and many others.
    The above pertains to the elementary level of the water punishment. The intermediate and advanced levels were far more severe. It terrifies me and gives me goose bumps even today just to recall what I went through in these levels.

Chapter 9: Wilderness of weeds  〔9〕

    The wilderness of weeds was awfully bleak. I found myself alone again before I knew it. I heard some mysterious rough noise above my head. I turned my face upward without thinking, when all of a sudden, what appeared to be some burnt sand jumped into my eyes. I could not open them as they felt a burning pain. My vision got totally dark, and in no time, something unknown started pulling my arms as hard as if they were about to be dismembered; it was also trying to tear my legs apart. No adjectives could aptly describe the suffering I was going through. An extremely cold ice blade closed in on me from above to cut me in half. A deafening roar came like a hundred thunders coming all at once, violently shaking the ground like sea waves moving up and down or sideways. I heard eerie, repulsive and sad voices. Though in fragments, I narrowly chanted that "Ama-terasu-oho-mikami" with all my might. I felt as if heaven and earth opened to enlighten me, with my sore eyes being cured. More mysteriously still, I was transfigured into a goddess.
    Funaki came walking back toward me from a far distance waving his divine scarf. I was elated at the mere sight of him. Both of us rejoiced in our reunion. While we were taking a rest, a wicked demon named Matsu ("Pine") appeared, trying to slash at us with his blindingly shiny ice blade. Funaki waved the scarf at him right away, and I chanted some divine names. The wicked demon fled southward quickly together with a few other demons.
     Then I heard a voice out of nowhere calling out, "To the north, to the north." My body was moving by itserlf like a machine. There appeared a goddess wearing a crown with the character "Hitsujisaru" [23], together with a gray-haired old man named Komatsubayashi ("Small Pine Grove"), handed a long thick writing brush to me before she hid herself. Oddly enough, I watched an inkstone, some India ink, and piles of sheets of Japanese writing paper quickly pop out of the tubular handle of the brush. Then I heard a voice above my head from an entity I could not see in the slightest saying, "Hold the writing brush." Two or three children appeared. They poured some water on the inkstone and started rubbing a solid ink bar against the inkstone to produce some India ink before they vanished into thin air.
     Transforming into an admirable goddess, I worked hard to let the writing brush run on the sheets of the writing paper at its mercy. Quite a long time elapsed, and to my recollection, the volumes of my writings totaled 567. The moment I heard someone's footsteps, Naka ("Center"), one of the demons that had accompanied Matsu, appeared, spearing dozens of those volumes at a time and dispersing them in the air towards the raging storm. But just as many sheets of writing paper materialized out of nowhere before my eyes. Feeling that I had to let the writing brush run on these sheets, I sat down on some dried grass in the field under the cold wind. I spread out the sheets over the quite rugged rocks and held them down with my left hand. As I focused hard on writing something, a four-eyed monster led a group of ogres in happy coats bearing such names as Hira ("Flat"), Naka ("Center"), Ki ("Tree"), Go ("Rear"), Ta ("Rice Paddy"), Take ("Bamboo"), Mura ("Village"), Yo ("Together"), Toh ("Wisteria") and I ("Well"). They grabbed all my writings away from me, stacked them on the grass two or three cho (or about 240 or 360 yards) ahead, and set them ablaze.
    There appeared a pallid man named Nishi ("West"). He pulled out an armful of my writings from the stack and brought them in front of me. Those ogres were desperately coming after Nishi but went away startled as I waved my scarf. The fire was blazing my writings to ashes. The plume of black smoke was rising in the shape of a dragon before it flashed like lightning to turn into myriad stars. Guided by the starlight, Nishi disappeared into clouds high in the southern sky, holding the writings under his arm. My appearance as the goddess reverted to my original prisoner clothes before I knew it. A cold wind started raging suddenly, making my teeth chatter. I was filled with a sense of loneliness as if something frightening had come over me.

Chapter 10: Second phase of water asceticism  〔10〕

    Cold and lonely, I chanted the divine name "Ama-terasu-oho-kami." This made my whole body warm, with the resultant divine light about to shine all over the sky, when the Fuyo Sennin popped up before my eyes. I was so happy to see him that I was approaching him for a hug, but he stopped me with a menacing look I had never seen, saying,
"Please don't. The Great King forbids it. Mr. Mitsuba, you would ruin all your ascetic training so far if you came near me. You have mostly explored the first phase. I will now open the gate to the second phase. Follow me."
Before the Fuyo Sennin finished his sentences, the gate creaked open eerily, plunging me into the second phase. He was nowhere in sight.
    I fell and tumbled down the frozen dark path, sliding into the bottom of the ground. The darkness prevented me from seeing anything. I heard indescribable voices of suffering all around me. What appeared to be a woman's painful scream rumbled in my ears from afar ahead. An acrid smell of blood stung my nose, making me so sick that I felt like vomiting. I slipped suddenly and fell headlong into the underground hundreds of feet deep. My lower back, legs, head and face bled from hitting against the jutting rocks. Astonished by the scars all over my body, I repeated "Kamunagara tamachihaemase" twice and breathed on my hands to rub them against my whole body. A divine blessing manifested itself instantly, healing all my scars and pains. I lost no time in clapping my hands to thank the Great Deity. The divine power of kototama dispelled the darkness and cleared up the sky, resulting in a lively atmosphere.
    The moment I heard another creaking sound from above, 12 to 13 men and women fell down before me and joined their hands in prayer time and again, saying, "Help us. Help us." When I waved my scarf over their heads, they rose up in a moment and started shedding tears of joy in unison, calling out, "Master Mitsuba." They included a religious person, an educator, a thinker, a newspaper reporter, a magazine editor, a drug seller, and a medical practitioner. They were all following me from behind on the icy path with plodding steps.

Chapter 11: Miracle-working nusa ("purification wand")  〔11〕

    As I trudged forward doggedly, I found a vast lake teeming with hairy caterpillars. Among them was a snake-bodied creature with a face like four horse heads combined and with its tongue flickered out. It was only the long, quite narrow ice bridge that passed over this vast lake to the other side. I had no choice but to move forward as ogres named Matsu ("Pine"), Naka ("Center"), and Hatake ("Field") were chasing after me, holding cross-shaped lances to poke me with. Ten of my followers all slid into the lake, where their bodies swelled all over as they got stung by the hairy caterpillars. They were groaning in pain and the cold. Their faint breathing gave the impression of being tantamount to dying patients. Moreover, the said monster snake held one person after another between its teeth and spat them out, torturing their flesh and bones with a strong squeeze. I also had to cross this bridge. While I was fortunate enough to cross it without much difficulty, I could not help worrying about what to do with my company. Dithering over whether or not to rescue them, I heard a gentle female voice from above my head saying, "Mr. Mitsuba," immediately followed by the descent of a purification wand. I quickly grabbed it and spontaneously chanted, "I supplicate the Great Kami of Purification for exorcism and purification." My chant transformed the vast lake into a plain at once, with the ogres and the monster snake vanishing. Tens of thousands of ethereal bodies - men and women, young and old alike - got reinvigorated as if they had undergone resurrection, and cried out in chorus, "Master Mitsuba." Such was their stentorian voice that it resounded like a roaring thunder. Tutelary deities for those individuals appeared like scintillating stars, found their shrine parishioners, and took them home with delight and excitement.
     When I felt insecure after having handed out my divine scarf to Funaki, I had the honor of receiving the purification wand from Kin-katsu-kane-no-kami (literally, the "Gold[or Metal]-Triumph[or Supremacy]-Pivot-Deity"). This encouraged me as if millions of troop reinforcements came to my rescue. I resumed a solitary journey forward through the unknown plain.
     There was a giant Western-style building towering majestically above the clouds. At the gate was a solemn officer of the Court of Yama, keeping a mirror-like eye on the environment by continuing to crane his neck back and forth and around. His subordinates appeared in droves, each giving the deceased a raw deal - a cruelty so ugly as to defy any description. Waving the purification wand, I walked into the building. Both the officer and his subordinates remained silent, pretending not to know that I was walking by. The moment I heard the scream "Yipe, yipe," I turned around to see so many women bleed from their mouths, have their abdomens stabbed with spears, have their blood in the whole body sucked by swarms of babies, or have their necks wound around by venomous serpents, all screaming and writhing in agony. The subordinates stabbed those women's heads, abdomens and any other parts of their bodies with speaheads. Their gushing blood converged to form a cascade emitting an obnoxious smell. The plight was too horrible to look at. Again, I waved the wand to the left and right and then back to the left several times. This sweeped away the whole terror. A multitude of women gathered at my feet, shedding tears; some of them kissed me on the body, saying with one tearfully delighted voice, "Thank you, Master Mitsuba. We're so much obliged to you." The whole sky instantly brightened up, and tutelary deities escorted those women home as their shrine parishioners, joining their hands in offering prayers to me before vanishing into thin air with the bright light. I heard shouts of joy in one corner of the sky. Those shouts faded into a mere whisper of the wind.

Part 2: From the yukai ("realm of lost spirits") to the shinkai ("realm of divinities")

Chapter 12: Unity of the physical and the metaphysical  〔12〕

    Stories I have told so far about my ascetic journey into this world and the afterlife while physically present in Mount Takakuma constitute only a small portion of what I have actually gone through.
    All things in the universe are governed by the principles of ken'yu icchi ("perfect match between the physical and the spiritual") and zen'aku ichinyo ("indivisble oneness of good and evil"). There exists no absolute good or absolute evil. Hence you could also say there exists no absolute paradise or absolute suffering. Suffering dwells in joy, and joy dwells in suffering. Therefore, it is actions derived from your physical or spiritual body that make you fall into the ne-no-kuni ("Land of Roots") or the sonko-no-kuni ("Land of the Bottom") to undergo endless suffering. The spirit-souls of people in the physical world are always open to communion with the Spirit World, and the Spirit World has communion with the physical world all the time. This has remained unchanged for aeons. The Omoto Shinyu ("The Divine Revelation of Omoto") says something to the effect that both heaven and hell appear out of your own physical-spiritual body, that optimism always comes with pessimism in this world, that there is no truth, good, or beauty without being detached from sin or guilt, that you cannot seek genuine pleasure without suffering, that there are no other kami than unenlightened persons (prithag-jana), and that good and evil are but two faces of the same coin, just as are right and wrong. Buddhist scriptures say that earthly desires are enlightenment, that the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana, that this defiled world is the Pure Land, and that the Buddha and unenlightened beings are inherently two faces of the same coin. In light of the Way of the Kami, the truth is "the Kami and ordinary mortals are inherently two faces of the same coin."
    Great mercy in Buddhism, blessings and happiness from the Way of the Kami, and desires of ordinary mortals are essentially not much different. You could say that attributes of ordinary mortals are true to those of the Kami. You could also say that the whole attributes of the Kami are all inherent in ordinary mortals.
    Heaven/the Pure Land is essentially not a bit different from society/this world. Despite their identical nature, why are they separated into divinity vs. mundanity, purity vs. filth, right vs. wrong, and good vs. evil? In short, they are nothing but tentative symbols assigned in accordance with the extent to which appropriate activities are carried out (or not carried out) while this true nature is fully exhibited.
    Neither good nor evil is immutable; good can be evil and evil can be good, depending on the time, place and situation.
    The Michi no taigen [24] reads: "Good is something done for the public or the world whereas evil is something done for one's own self-interest. Exercising a virtue with selfless intent is good, but exercising a vice with selfish intent is evil." Doing something good only for yourself is never true good, no matter how good it is. Even when it has a little element of evil, something done for the public or the world should be regarded as good. A burst of Wen Wang's [25] anger brought about peace in his kingdom. This anger should be accepted.
    To infer from the above, small pessimism is negligible, and temporary small pessimism of unorthodox nature is unacceptable. Great pessimism and great optimism are eventually united into one. Therefore, while the Kami is a great optimist, He is also a great pessimist.
    The mediocre masses are small pessimists as well as small optimists. This society, this world, and this physical realm are areas of small suffering and small happiness while the Spirit World is an area of great happiness and great suffering. The Rishu-kyo, or the Principle of Wisdom Sutra, mentions the ultimate truth that various aspects of life in the world represent various profound verities as they are, saying to the effect that great greed or great folly may lead to samadhi (state of intense concentration achieved through meditation) or pure bodhisattva's spiritual awakening, and that sensual pleasures may open a portal to the right path.
    Those who indulge in sensual pleasures naturalistically and instinctively to the extent limited to satisfying their own egos, saying that abstinence is bad or that romantic love is sacred are mediocre people. In contrast, the one who expands these desires to cosmic proportions and fulfills them is the Kami.
    The Kami has a great desire to save all that is as He sees the masses in the whole Spirit World as His beloved children. Mediocre people love only their spouse, children, family and relations in complete disregard of others; what is worse, they seek self-gratification built on the sacrifice of others. Human body-souls are intrinsically divided portions of the Kami and are thus endowed with the power to do their work to cosmic proportions. For this reason, it is man's duty in life to develop essential endowments of wisdom, love, courage, and affinity, and put them into practice. Seen from a standard good versus bad theory, this could be termed the principle of self-actualization. Our good and bad actions translate directly into great reward or punishment activities for the salvation of society and humanity. These enormous forces and activities are thus synonymous with the Kami and the cosmic expansion of our individual egos.
     Be that as it may, it is quite important for us as we endeavor to become companions of the Kami to beautify or imparadise the present society as a whole and materialize Heaven or the Pure Land on earth by keeping from abandoning our reincarnading bodies or our carnal minds imbued and defiled with a myriad worldly desires or by hanging on to the present inequitable society defiled with the thought of suffering and adulterated with wrongdoing.

         (Dictation taken by Oni on February 8, Taisho 10 (1921))

Chapter 13: An encounter with angels  〔13〕

     I was moving forward to delve further into the second phase of ascetic training and was about to venture into the third phase, when I suddenly heard some music too clear and sonorous for words from far above.
     I looked up at the sky to find an angel decked out in white attire and accompanied by a few attendants descending towards me. Then I felt as if I started seeing the tiny summit of Mt. Fuji tens of miles away in the distant southeast.
     The image of Mt. Fuji I was given made me think that the Fuyo Sennin came from the Japanese mountain. But when I looked at the angel as he descended in front of me, I noticed he was a dignified, gray-haired, kindly deity with his gray beard drooping to his breast.
     "On behalf of your tutelary kami, I've come to take you back," said the deity. "You should get out of here temporarily."
     Since I had struggled my way here, I asked him to grant me permission to stay and do more research.
     The deity turned down my request, saying, "The realm of divinities sees it in its best interest to expedite your training. Leave here for now."
     Before the deity finished his words, I was enveloped in a purple cloud, feeling as if I were floating upwards for what seemed to be 30 to 40 minutes. Then my knees started aching, making me realize that my body was shivering with cold.
     I wasn't much aware of the situation at that time because my mind was still groggy, but soon I clearly found myself seated on my heels in front of the cave on Mt. Takakuma.
     I remained conscious for about an hour, when I started feeling sleepy, eventually thrown back into the Spirit World. I was then greeted by the great kami of Obata Shrine as he manifested himself.
     "The Spirit World needs to address imminent challenges," said the kami, also my tutelary deity. "So does the physical realm. You need to explore the yukai ("realm of lost spirits") and the meikai ("underworld"), but your exploration of the divine realm must precede it. To this end, you have to go through both spiritual and physical training. Go right ahead with your acetic practices in the divine realm."
     "Certainly," I replied, showing my intention to obey his order.
     An unknown entity grabbed me with its huge hand as if a hawk grabbed a sparrow.
     Where I was later let go was a beatiful seashore, reminding me of Miho no Matsubara ("Pine Grove in Miho"), a 7-kilometer scenic beach lined with pine trees. I started getting a close-up of Mt. Fuji much bigger than I had seen during the second phase of my ascetic training. This made me think that I was brought alone to what looked like Miho Shrine at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Then a married couple of deities appeared there, bestowing upon me a natural stone flute and a precious stone used in chinkon, the practice of quieting the soul. I was delighted at receiving these rare objects. The moment I put them in my inside pocket, the scene changed abruptly. Strangely, I found myself seated on my heels before my tutelary kami's shrine in my home village.
     Realizing that my home was just a "stone's throw" from the mount, I felt like going back there. The thought of it made me feel cold and hungry with my legs aching; it even made me recall various things ranging from my parents and siblings to household affairs.
     "If you return to being a human," said the angel, enveloping me with a white cloth. "The Kami's grand design won't work. Stay on as a deity."
     Mysteriously, the cloth obliterated all kinds of things coming to my mind, getting me ready to take off for the divine realm. All I had then was nothing but the flute and the stone for the chinkon. Besides, I was clad in a black formal Japanese kimono for some reason. Another angel appeared next to the tutelary kami as if to report something to him.
     "The divine realm and the realm of lost spirits are currently in utter chaos," the angel warned. "If nothing is done about it, the whole world will be annihilated."
     The angel turned to me and gave me a strick order saying, "As I dictate, leave for the divine realm and ascend to the Taka-ama-hara ("Plain of High Heaven")."
     Not knowing which way I should go to ascend the Taka-ama-hara, I asked the angel saying, "What should I aim at to get there? Will any kami escort me?"
     "All I can do is escort you to the yachimata ("eight-way crossroads")," the angel replied, giving me detailed instructions. "Once you get there, wait a while. You will easily notice the direction of the divine realm, or the Taka-ama-hara, because a divinity with a bright aura stands in that direction. Where an entity with a black, nasty face stands is a portal to Hell. The path to the realm of hungry ghosts (i.e. pretas) is where an entity with a yellow face as if suffering from jaundice stands. The path to the realm of beasts is where an entity with a pale face stands. Moreover, you will end up in a realm of perennial conflicts if you choose to go in the direction of an ogre-like formidable creature with angry veins bulging on its forehead and temples.
     "The first place you had explored was the entrance to Hell," the angel continued his instructions. "It was the easiest place to explore. Now go in the direction of a divinity with a bright aura standing, and it will take you to the divine realm."
     The angel kept talking.
     "There is suffering even in the divine realm, and there is some fun even in Hell. So don't think there are only good things happening in the divine realm. The suffering you go through when you are in the Taka-ama-hara brings you corresponding benefits. When you are in Hell, however, you simply atone for your past sins and achieve no good results however hard you work. Of course you can at least pay back your soul's debt if you work hard in Hell. In addition, the physical world and the spiritual world are so correlated that they are but two faces of the same coin. What happens in the physical world happens in the spiritual world and vice versa. Similarly, what happens in the realm of lost spirits happens to physical beings in the material world. You need to be particularly aware that on the path to the divine realm are devils plotting to occupy the realm. When you explore the divine realm, devils will absolutely appear and thwart your mission. They also want to explore and occupy the divine realm by themselves. You are about to be sent to the realm to prevent their whole plot from materializing. Roads to the divine realm are both wide and narrow. Not all of them are wide. Some are so narrow that they shape like numerous gourds lined up lengthwise. This allows only one person to walk at a time, so even devils cannot overtake you. But once you are out on a wider road, devils come attacking you from all directions. Wider roads give wicked spirits more opportunities to afflict you."
     Soon the angel disappeared. I was left alone with the natural stone flute and the precious stone for the chinkon practice. Clad in the black formal Japanese kimono, I started treading the path surrounded by green mountains and blue water under the blue sky toward the realm of divinities.

         (Dictation taken by Toyoji Toyama on October 18 by the solar calendar, or September 18 by the lunar calender, Taisho 10 (1921))

Chapter 14: Journey into the shinkai I  〔14〕

     I was alone walking somewhat hastily down a path so narrow like numerous gourds lined up lengthwise, when I heard dozens of people shout aimlessly from the top of a mountain behind me.
     I thought I had already walked two or three cho (250 - 350 yards), but when I casually looked back, I found myself back again to where I started - the eight-way crossroads. There I saw a man with a pitch-black, dirty face lying on the ground. He looked like he was going to Hell. It turned out that his physical body breathed his last just now in the physical world, and that his spiritual body was lying here. I also learned that the loud shouts I had heard were the voices of his family members and old friends trying to recall his soul. As I was watching him, the pitch-black man, who looked 35 or 36 years old, plunged under the ground thousands of feet deep as it cracked. This did not make any sense to me. I thought that a corresponding path must have been prepared to take him to Hell. That was why I wondered about the man's nosedive into the bottom. It was to me like a person in the physical world dying suddenly of cephalemia, cerebral hemorrhage or cardiac rupture without leaving a will. So I played the stone flute. Then an orb of light came down from the sky and manifested itself as the Fuyo Sennin.
     "Is it true that there is no path to hell?" I asked him.
     "This person committed wrongdoing while he was alive, especially the heinous crime of destroying the Shinto shrine dedicated to his tutelary deity," replied the Fuyo Sennin. "He bought it cheap simply because it was an old shrine, sold off metal parts, and burned wooden materials or used them as firewood. Less than a week later, he got sick in bed, developing what appeared to be the plague. His illness took his life, with his soul falling into an abyss as the ground cracked open. His sin was among the most serious, so he coughed up blood, foamed at the mouth and died in agony, grasping at the air. What's worse, a local government employee burned up his dead body with gasoline lest his illness infect other people."
     "Why do people who die in agony fall into a bottomless pit right away like this?" I asked him.
     "When people die, they usually go through transitions from the instant of death to the bardo and from the bardo to the instant of birth. The moment they breathe their last in the physical world, they are first placed in the state of death and then in the bardo - almost simultaneously. The bardo generally lasts for 49 days (i.e. seven days multiplied by seven weeks). The 50th day marks the beginning of the state of birth, where people identify their parents and siblings. In each state, all things are created including mountains, rivers, plants, trees, humans, and houses. In the state of death, souls of the deceased are reduced to the size of three-year-old children and can vaguely sense their parents and siblings without seeing or touching them, whereas in the bardo, they become spiritually aware of their feelings and affection for their parents and siblings."
     The Fuyo Sennin continued. "These souls are lost in the bardo for 49 days, so during this period their family members or close relatives need to hold memorial services for them. That is also the duty of their parents, children or siblings. These memorial services have a major impact on them as they enter the state of birth. Meanwhile, souls who have done many good deeds and those who have done many bad deeds bypass the bardo; the former goes into the state of birth right after death, and the latter falls headlong into Hell, or the ne-no-kuni ("Land of Roots") and the sonko-no-kuni ("Land of the Bottom"). Therefore, people with extremely good deeds die with their faces so beautiful as if sleeping and are instantly born again in heaven. Likewise, people with extremely bad deeds follow the course I mentioned earlier, die in agony, and go to hell at once."
     Having heard his explanation, I was about to set out for the Taka-ama-hara ("Plain of High Heaven") on a journey to the divine realm. But a weird lady with acne scars all over her face suddenly appeared in the center of the yachimata ("eight-way crossroads"). The moment she found me, she thrust out her long tongue. Goggling her particularly sunken, glistening eyes, she dashed off for the entrance of the divine realm.
     She's a weirdo. I got to follow her to find out her true identity. Driven by curiosity, I kept chasing after her. That bizarre lady was fleeing helter-skelter into a nearby forest almost as if running in the air. I eventually lost sight of her. I sat on the grass, feeling at a loss and turned off by her act tantamount to a frightened weasel emitting foul odor from its anal sacs. I was looking all around restlessly, when an eerie voice reached my ears from somewhere.
     Straining my ears and wondering, I heard a strange noise that sounded like a bird's yell or a monkey's scream. I was curious enough to see something scary, and I pushed my way along the thorny path in the direction of the sound, stepping over rocks, crossing mountain streams, and crawling up steep hills. I went through a lot before I finally reached an even field.
     There I saw that weird lady and what looked like many bizarre people surrounding her keep whispering something to one another. I lurked behind a big tree to watch what they were doing. A very fat tail appeared from the rear of the lady with acne scars all over her face as she was seated in the center of the group. She wagged her tail to the left. The surrounding people, which were actually half-human monsters, scrambled to dash off like an avalance in the direction the tail pointed to.
     The lady then wagged her tail to the right. Those countless monsters - hardly distinguished whether they were animals or humans - scrambled again to dash off in the right direction. She finally wagged her tail straight up to the sky.
     All the monsters scrambled to dash upward in the air, only to fall down like rain after a while. Some plunged into the valley and got injuired while others got scars all over their bodies as they dropped into a thicket of thorns, bleeding and agonizing in a predicament. Still others were half dead and groaning in pain from getting caught in large trees or hit their skulls as they fell, with blood gushing out to form a spring of blood.
     The weird lady looked so elated at the scene as to drink the blood of one bleeding monster after another with gusto. She quickly grew fatter and fatter. On her forehead appeared two horns, and her mouth split open from ear to ear. Her fangs gradually elongated, sharpened like swords, and began glittering.
     I wondered why I came to a place where an ogress like her was during my journey in the divine realm. I thought hard about it for a while. Yet another weird, hair-raising noise reached my ears from front to back, left to right. The situation did not make sense to me. At my wits' end, I decided to seek the Kami's help.
     I closed my eyes, sat quietly, and recited the Amatsu Norito ("Heavenly Norito Prayer") in a loud voice to deflect attention from the surrounding ghastly and especially repulsive sight. After a little while, I heard a gentle voice saying, "Open your eyes." But I kept my eyes closed because I was too disgusted by the terrifying, cruel sight before me to see it again.
     Then a louder, slightly angry voice called out, "Don't dither. Open your eyes quickly to wake up to the sublimity of the divine world." Brushing it off as a deceptive act by one of those shape-shifting apparitions, I still kept my eyes closed, pretending not to notice it and thinking deep down that it could not fool me - just eat my ass.
     "You stray soul. The time is near," said an entity. "Lose no time in opening your eyes to gaze at the actual state of the divine realm with its plans encountering difficulties. The Kingdom of the Kami is drawing near before your eyes. Pathetic are those who have no eyes to see with. Why have you not set off on an expeditionary journey to the divine realm as ordered by the Kami? You are still wandering around in the yachimata ("eight-way crossroads")."
     Hearing those words, I thought to myself that this entity was talking nonsense because I was actually exploring the divine realm and witnessing such an unpleasant event, that I had already seen through the identity of this shape-shifting old raccoon dog spirit wagging its big tail with my clairvoyance even if it thought I had no idea what it was, and that this racoon dog posing as an ogre - nothing short of an eyesore - could deceive others but not me.
     "You just don't know the Way of the Kami," the entity shouted in a slightly angry tone.
     I inadvertently opened my eyes and saw an incomparably magnificent throne appear before my eyes. In a split second, however, I was prodded by the sound of wind blowing through pine trees into realizing that I had been seated upright on my legs on the Toad Rock atop Mt. Takakuma.

         (Dictation taken by Toyoji Toyama on October 18 by the solar calendar, or September 18 by the lunar calender, Taisho 10 (1921))

Chapter 15: Journey into the shinkai II  〔15〕

     I became painfully aware of my erroneous assumption that I had been exploring the divine realm. I amended my conduct, tempered my curiosity, and made a beeline for the world of divinities.
     I was moving forward on a narrow path all alone in quicker steps, showing single-minded determination and chanting divine prayers. There appeared, on a sudden, a twenty-something-year-old man named "Kou" [26] and a twenty-two-year-old woman named "Koto" [27]. They were following me back and forth. I felt tremendously empowered by their presence.
     The woman had already departed from the material world while the man as a physical entity was a priest at a time-honored Shinto shrine. Both of them were escorted by two guardian deities - namely, Komatsubayashi ("Small Pine Grove") and Masamori ("Right Protector"). It had been decided that Komatsubayashi would work with a particular bodily being in the divine world at a particular time.
     The narrow path gradually widened and then started narrowing down again as I was walking. It was like two opened folding fans attached at the top. Numerous paths ran like the ribs of the fans, and I was at a loss for which path to take. There was a chasm on either side of each of the paths, just as there was a space between ribs of the fans.
     The water was beautiful, and the sky was blue. It made me feel great, but I could not let my guard down in the slightest. One misstep would have ended up in a chasm. It came as a surprise to learn that the way to the Taka-ama-hara ("Plain of High Heaven") was quite labyrinthine and dangerous because I thought it was flat and safe. Of the many trails before me, I decided to choose what appeared to be the one in the middle to move ahead.
     I saw a beautiful plain ahead of me, with neither mountains nor anything surrounding it. Walking down the path, I found numerous bridges of various kinds were built. Some were dilapidated and trecherous. When I came to one of them, I chanted the divine name "Ama-terasu-oho-kami" to cross it in a single leap.
     A man and a woman, both clad in white, appeared suddenly. They metamorphosed into white foxes as I watched. "Koto" and "Kou" were coming after me. When I hurried along, I came to another bridge before I knew it. Four or five four-footed animals appeared from the approach to the bridge and abruptly threw me into the deep river running under the bridge. My two companions were also thrown into the river.
     I swam in the ditch to the left of the path to double back. The other two swam in the ditch to the right of the path to double back. The above animals came running after us, and when they were about to jump at us, two white foxes appeared suddenly to drive away the animals. The three of us doubled back to the fan-shaped area, dried our clothes, and took a rest. Then an extremely large sun appeared, drying the clothes instantly. We clapped our hands involuntarily and chanted the divine name "Ama-terasu-oho-kami" to thank her.
     This time the three of us each took a different path to move forward. The man named "Kou" chose the farthest left path while the woman named "Koto" the farthest right path. This was a backup measure because one side of each of these paths led to a plain to which we could escape in case of an emergency. I also avoided the center path and took the third path away from it. There were still ditches on either side of my path. Learning from the failure, I paid close attention to both sides and back and forth as I was moving along. There were also many ditches sideways with quite a sturdy stone bridge crossing over them. Strangely, what I had thought was a plain until that moment changed into a mountain, taking us to a scene of a mountain range.
     These mountains towered like a wall and shone like a mirror. They were so slippery that I could not afford to put my feet on them. I was at a loss, thinking that it would be a pity to double back. This led me to start wondering if I chose the path to Hell although I heard it was supposed to take me to the Taka-ama-hara ("Plain of High Heaven"). Not knowing what to do and sighing with a sense of being caught in a predicament, I chanted the divine name "Ama-terasu-oho-kami," reciting "Kamu-nagara tama-chi-ha-e-ma-se" three times.
     Mysteriously, the mountains sloped down a little gently, and I found myself halfway up one of them. As I was walking fast along the mountain path overgrown with pine trees having a trunk width of slightly over three meters, Japanese cedar trees, and Japanese cypress trees, I encountered a hugh waterfall. It was shaped like a white dragon ascending to heaven.
     I felt like purifying myself under the waterfall, so I approached it, got naked and performed ablutions. I suddenly changed into a giant serpent like this waterfall. I was deeply regreting my appearance, when a loud voice calling my name reached my ears from below. It was from a giant pitch-black serpent with the face of "Koto," the woman accompanying me. The serpent was writhing in pain and going on a rampage. A close look revealed that her big eyes were bloodshot with three comma-shaped figures in a circle appearing on the white of either eye as a blood spot. I was thinking of saving her out of sympathy while in the serpentine shape. Then the mountains quickly changed into a body of water like the Bay of Osaka. The fire-breathing female "Koto" serpent scrambled to cause waves and jump into the sea with a splash. Spitting out water, I chased after her and jumped into the sea to save her. But I found myself gradually lagging too behind to save her because it was like trying to catch up with a 30-knot warship with a 10-knot one. Soon the giant black serpent swam headlong into the far distance before she disappeared with a plume of black smoke. And the mountains and the sea were gone for some reason, and I found myself back again to the path I had started in the fan-shaped area.
     This time I made up my mind to take the narrowest path, where there was a crowd of some 50 to 60 people. They were invalids of various types - including those with bad eyesight, crippled legs or abdominal pain - praying fervently to something.
     What they were praying to by blocking the path was an old raccoon dog that had lived for kalpas. The raccoon dog masqueraded as a big Buddhist priest. These invalids were all human souls still having physical bodies in the secular world. None of their prayers had any effect on their illnesses. When I took a posture of chinkon ("quieting the soul") toward the raccoon dog priest, it vanished like smoke, and all the invalids healed from their illnesses. I learned from the Fuyo Sennin that the soul of an old raccoon dog manifested itself as a Buddhist priest to mislead people into worshipping it. With that animal soul exorcized, those people were saved, with the blind regaining their sight, the crippled being able to walk, and the souls of the inflicted being spared from joining the hell of beasts.
     All the people here were so grateful with tears of joy that they grabbed me to the extent of not letting me go even a single step. Then a voice came to me from a direction of the firmament, saying, "Move on, move on." When I played the heavenly stone flute, everything disappeared without a trace. I found myself moving forward in a place so vast and flat as the paper portion of a folding fan.

         (Dictation taken by Haruko Kato on October 18 by the solar calendar, or September 18 by the lunar calender, Taisho 10 (1921))

Chapter 16: Journey into the shinkai III  〔16〕

     If my whereabouts had been likened to a folding fan, I would have just arrived in the paper area after crossing the ribs. Breathing a sigh of relief, I lay down on the lawn nearby to take a rest. From the far north I heard an eerie voice saying to me, "Hey, hey." It was a tenuous, subtle and sorrowful voice like the buzzing of a mosquito. As I was deep in thought, four or five voices reached my ears from behind in the south trying to call and stop me. They sounded somewhat similar to those of my mother, grandmother and neighbors. I paid attention to them, and in the next breath I realized that my physical body had returned to my house in Anao.
     The following was what happened in the yu-kai ("world of lost spirits"), but I saw a spirit possessing my mother, showing an errie, quite sad and angry look on its face - namely, a facial expression combining anger and cry.
     "It is fine for you to get out and do your divine training while leaving your aging mother and her children like this," said the spirit through my mother's mouth. "But we need to protect our house handed down from our ancestors. Besides, if you no longer come back, I will have to take of my octogenarian mother and tons of farming chores all by myself. Just give it a second thought." She was trying to stop me from going. Then appeared two neighbors named Matsu ("Pine") and Masa ("True"), saying that they would take my ancestors' place to give me some advice. They joined her in persuading me to stay here.
     "You're doing your thing for the divine world or something," said Matsu and Masa, pestering Kisaburo to change his mind. "But what about your family?"
     All of a sudden, the emaciated, aging grandmother changed into a male kami, saying, "You're doing the Kami's bidding, so don't let your petty family business disquiet your mind. If the world goes on like this, it will plunge into chaos and take the inevitable road to perdition. Accept the divine order with humility for the whole world and walk away quickly." All at once, Matsu and Masa stripped me naked of my haori ("formal short overgarment") and hakama ("formal divided skirt") before snatching my natural stone flute and precious stone for the chinkon, the practice of quieting the soul, and throwing them into the pond. Then appeared Kou ("Happiness") [26], the man accompanying me. He abruptly went naked and put his clothes on me. He also took the stone flute and precious stone for the chinkon out of the pond before handing them over to me.
     Freeing myself from all obsessions, I was moving north according to the will of the Kami, only then to realize that I came back to the yachimata ("eight-way crossroads"). I was chagrined that this happened again, and I doubled back through a fan rib-shaped path to the paper area smoothly. At that time, the naked Kou escorted me back halfway through the paper area until he vanished into the blue. The same old tenuous, sorroful and repulsive voice reached my ears. I found myself unable to resist moving northward as if my body were attracted by electricity. On one side there was a big river lined with interesting, old pine trees on its banks. On my left were soaring mountains with cliffs. The river and the mountains had formed a bottleneck path that I had no other choice but to walk. When I went to the bottleneck path, a man and a woman thrusted their heads out of the ground and finally showed their whole bodies. They stood in the narrow path to block me from going forward.
     When I took a posture of chinkon ("quieting the soul") and played the natural stone flute, the man and the woman assumed a gentle expression on their faces.
     The woman gave me a bow and said, "You look like a prophet. Please come into my house. There are a lot of favors I would like to ask of you."
     At that moment a small house started appearing before my eyes. As a married couple, the man and the woman were both possessed by Yatsugashira Yatsuo ("Eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent").
     "We have captured many people journeying in the divine world according to the order of the Great Kami, and none of them has served our purpose," the couple said, followed by a favor to ask of me. "But we have just met the one we have been looking for today. To tell the truth, I am in the bloodline of the human being possessed by the Great King, the supreme ruler of the yukai ("realm of lost spirits") in the earthly taka-ama-hara ("plain of high heaven"). Walk this path northward, and you will be able to meet the Great King. Make sure to tell Him that I sent you off." [28]
     "Sure, I'll be there," I said, ready to leave the place. Then I noticed a tengu ("long-nosed goblin") with horns growing on its head and a frightening look on its face, and a white evil fox with nine blonde tails behind the couple. The couple as physical beings were really good humans of profound religious faith, but I realized that they were possessed by those awfully powerful demons. Mentioning nothing about the demons, I made a beeline for the earthly taka-ama-hara. I trudged northward for a while until I found a large wooden bridge. When I approached the foot of the bridge, I heard the mysterious cries of people and yelps of foxes. I traced them to their source and discovered that parents and their child were ganging up on four foxes in the hole to batter them to death. One fox was killed after another, and their souls possessed the woman there. Her name was Tami ("People"). The ill-fated foxes' vengeful spirits quickly caused her to start writhing in agony from what appeared to be abdominal distention. I took a chinkon posture and prayed to the Kami for the woman. Her body returned to a healthy, normal condition. The trio joined their hands in awe to thank me. But the souls of the four slain foxes adamantly refused to accept that.
     "We innocent foxes can't stand the injustice of being killed this way," said the animal spirits, giving the trio a reproachful stare. "We have to take revenge no matter what."
     The four foxes besought me to ask the Kami to grant their wish to continue their life together using Tami's physical body as a vehicle.
     Wondering what to do about it, I left it to heaven's judgement. Then appeared an angel from a corner of heaven, along with the woman's tutelary kami, saying, "There is no choice." While she was a parishoner of the tutelary deity's shrine, she was plunged into the world of animals and became a container of the foxes to take responsibility for battering the innocents to death. She committed something similar to Inari sage ("descent of Inari"), the physical-realm practice of granting oracles through fox possession - often perceived as heretical.
     I heard yet another loud shout in a slightly southwesterly direction. I quickly traced the source of the voice and found a blind old man possessed by a raccoon dog and surrounded by many vengeful ghosts. They were hurting his eyes, throwing him up in the air and abusing him relentlessly. I saw something like a rod under his shoulders. The rod was tied to him with a leash, the other end of which was was attached to the core of the pole. The racoon dog and other ghosts scrambled to tighten and release the leash, dropping the old man to the brink of the river and pulling him up to the extreme heat of the sun at high speed. He was a man named Yoko ("Flank").
     When I asked those unrequited spirits why they were giving the man such a hard time, they replied that he was extremely avaricious and amassed his fortune by foreclosing on dozens of houses and lots pledged by his borrowers as collateral. Many debtors consequently committed suicide by jumping into a well or hanging themselves; others even had to see their families split asunder. Their spirits all fell into the world of animals because of their deep-seated grudge and became companions with foxes and raccoon dogs. All these vengeful spirits and departed souls were scrambling to take the man's life from inside and outside his body by whatever means possible.
     I asked the angel why the Kami allowed those stray spirits to commit the kind of act usually found in the realm of Hell on my way to the divine world.
     "The Kami has given them permission to make an example of him," explained the angel. "That long, thick leash is a coagulate of the ropes used by the hanged. He is tainted with poison because some of his victims poisoned themselves to death. He is thrown into the river because his other victims drowned themselves. Once their revenge is over, he will fall into the world of animals where he is doomed to suffer torture."
     I felt so sorry for him that I supplicated the deity Ama-terasu-oho-mi-kami for mercy, recited the incantation "Kamu-nagara tama-chi-ha-e-ma-se," and played the stone flute. This stopped his suffering instantly and emancipated the souls of the foxes and raccoon dogs from their deep-seated grude, much to their glee. Some even regained a ruddy complexion in their faces. All of these souls were transformed into humans - men and women, young and old. Shortly afterwards, their corresponding tutelary deities appeared, expressing delight and gratitude. I also thanked the divine world for offering me this great learning opportunity before I left the site. And yet the physical body of the man, Yoko ("Flank"), would depart from the material world in about a week.
     Yet again I heard a shout in the due west. It sounded as if a monkey was bullied. Tracing the scream, I found that tens of real foxes had surrounded a man, tied him to a tree and tortured him. He could not help groaning in pain. His limbs were ripped apart, and his bones were smashed one by one. Though beaten up completely, he remained standing there with his physical body still existing in the material world. To save him, I chanted a divine name and took a chinkon posture as usual. Shortly afterwards, all the foxes laid prostrate. When I asked them why they were doing something like that, an elder among them stepped forward and said,
     "This man loves hunting in mountains more than anything else. He is a bad guy reveling in building fox traps or ensnaring foxes. Because of that, all our clan members were killed. We knew we could be trapped to death, but when we found deep-fried tofu pouches and other favorite food, we involuntarily let our guards down and fell for it. All the foxes here were killed. So we want to take full revenge on him in the realm of lost spirits by destroying this man's spiritual and physical bodies."
     "You are also to blame for getting killed," I responded. "Instead, why don't you reform yourselves to be born into the human world?"
     "Can we be born into the human world?"
     "Yes, you can."
     "That is not possible for four-footed animals like us," the elder sighed, showing despair on his face.
     "I will apologize to heaven and earth for you all."
     The moment I apologized to the gods, the ethereal body of the bullied man named Naka ("Center") quickly returned to its original state with his flesh regained and his bones fully restored, and all the various foxes were transformed into male or female humans. Some of these tens of fox souls have been working for the divine world until today while others gave up halfway through. Still others fell back into the world of animals.

         (Dictation taken by Shigeo Sakurai on October 19 by the solar calendar, or September 19 by the lunar calender, Taisho 10 (1921))

Chapter 17: Journey into the shinkai IV  〔17〕

    The scene of the divine realm changed abruptly, taking me back to the foot of the large bridge where I had been before. I began hearing a voice reciting the great purification prayer. Feeling mystified by it, I walked down several hundred meters. Coming into my view was an old man in his fifties and his wife in her forties struggling in vain to separate from each other as they were stuck back to back. The man was reciting the divine name Tenchi Kane No Kami [29] at the top of his voice, whereas his wife was joining her hands to pray to Inari, a popular deity of rice harvest, closely associated with its messenger the fox. In the sky toward which the man was joining his hands in prayer, a tengu, a red-faced, long-nosed creature with large wings, appeared in the clouds, beckoning the old man. The woman, meanwhile, was praying to foxes and raccoon dogs, which were in turn eagerly beckoning her from the mountain. The man tried going to the tengu but could not because the woman fully stuck on his back obstructed his move. The woman also wriggled to head for the animals but could not as her back was glued to her husband. They moved two steps forward in one direction and turned back, and again moved two steps forward in another direction and turned back. They were dithering over their different faiths. I went to the scene, chanted "Kamunagara tamachihaemase" to beseech the Kami for help, and recited norito prayers. At that time I felt like I let out quite a clear and pristine voice if I said so myself.
     The man and the woman got separated from each other in a moment. They thanked me profusely for my virtuous act and kept tagging along after me wherever I went. They made a commitment saying, "We will serve the work of the divine world." Later the man was reincarnated and tried to join the divine work in the earthly taka-ama-hara ("plain of high heaven") [30]. However, he was greedy by birth, and the tengu spirit possessing him resisted leaving his body so long that he ended up as a follower of the Great Deity Pangu and plotted to occupy the earthly taka-ama-hara. For this reason, his soul incurred the wrath of the Divine and fell into hell before his physical body perished two years later. His wife, meanwhile, was reincarnated and remotely kept her faith in the Kami even at the moment of this dictation.
     The scene before my eyes changed abruptly. For some reason I found myself standing at a small crossroads. Then appeared the man I had seen before, the one possessed by the soul of Yatsugashira Yatsuo ("Eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent"). He came pulling a rickshaw.
     "Sir, ride this rickshaw," the man said. "I would like to accompany you to the taka-ama-hara."
     "I wish I could, but I'm in the middle of my ascetic practices," I declined his offer.
     I began walking westward and crossed three or four quite steep mountain slopes along the way before arriving at the bank of a wide, pristine river. Clear, limpid water was flowing in the river with old pine trees lushly lining up its bank, making it quite a scenic spot. I felt that this place was nothing short of a divine world, and I wished to stay in a place like this for a long time. As I resumed plodding down the path alone, I came to a small town. There was a small hill on my left. The surrounding mountains were purple, and the river was flowing like a kimono sash. I felt as if I were on a Buddhist lotus seat or at the center of the taka-ama-hara ("plain of high heaven"). I was often so fascinated by the landscape that I hesitated to leave there.
     I descended the mountain and went slightly north before I spotted a tiny hut. As if attracted by electricity, I found myself at the door in the twinkling of an eye. It was a mysterious coincidence that the Great King at the Court of Yama came out to greet me in his manifestation as a young woman and showed me to a small living room. I rejoiced at my reunion with him. While listening attentively to many unique stories from the King, I abruply heard a voice that sounded like the growl of a tiger or the moan of a wolf. I strained my ears to find that it was a voice reciting the Amatsu Norito prayer and the Great Purification prayer. As the voice continued, it was getting darker all around with thick clouds densely closing the sky and eventually blocking the whole sunlight. A sudden storm broke out, leveling homes and blowing away everything on the earth. It degenerated into a catastrophic scene. Among the thickening dark clouds appeared an aging ogre named Ashi ("Foot"). The ogre, possessed by an old fox named Kuro ("Black"), was lording it over the world. The river water began to roar, spewing a large dragon. Also appearing out of nowhere was a devil with his appearance hard to describe. The King's living room and its vicinity turned jet-black as they were shrouded in total darkness. It engulfed that benevolent King as well. All I could see was a glimmer of light blinking and about to go out in a gale. I hit on the idea of praying to the Kami at this moment, and I did nothing but recite the names of the deity Ama-terasu-oho-mi-kami and the tutelary deity, chanting norito prayers with poise in a refreshing voice. This cleared up the sky with not even a cloud left.
     All norito prayers are powerful divine words that soothe the hearts and minds of the deities and bring harmony to heaven, earth and humans. Their kototama can dispel all defilement and evil if it is replete with divine virtue and is crystal clear. Kototama uttered by devils will only confuse and aggravate the world. Indeed it lacks power to purify the world because it is so tainted with evil motives such as greed, jealousy, hatred, envy and rage as to blaspheme the deities in heaven and on earth. Therefore, although Japan is a blessed land thriving on the power of kototama [31], it is only those people whose body and soul are truly made pure and clean can purify the world with their kototama. In contrast, the kototama used by those people whose body and soul are defiled and filthy rather darkens the world as it contains every evil element.
     I got back to the yachimata crossroads. The evil spirits I saw a while ago, namely the ogre, the fox and the dragon, came running after me. This "Ashi" ogre, accompanied by many followers, attacked me from all directions. Each of them blew hundreds of thousands of needles, nay countless needles out of their mouths at me like an atomizer. But my body was under such divine protection that it bounced off the needles like an iron plate, causing me no pain or itch. I recited norito prayers to thank the Kami for shielding me. My reciting voice made all the evils vanish like smoke.
     To make an additional remark, the "Ashi" ogre wore an eboshi hat and a hitatare robe - the typical attire of Shinto priests - as if serving the Kami. This allowed the ogre with an intrinsically ferocious countenance to look venerable. Moreover, the dragon ascending from the river quickly transformed into a beautiful woman. This dragon-woman was entrusted by the Palace of Dragons with a mission to join the divine campaign for reforming the world, but she ruined it when she, as a woman with a beautiful body, had sexual intercourse with the "Ashi" ogre. This dragon-woman is still alive and currently serves the Kami across the river from the tiny hut. She has as many as three dragon scales on her thighs as evidence of being a dragon disguising itself as a woman. Providence of the divine world is consistent throughout the three major realms of the Spirit World, and any disruption of the providence will invariably incur retribution. For this reason, anyone violating a dragon-woman tasked with a great mission from the divine world, be it in the divine realm or in the physical domain, will face punishment from the Kami for all eternity. Heaven's vengeance befell the "Ashi" ogre, rendering his son deaf and leaving such dirty pockmarks all over the face of his daughter as if a dragon crawled flat on the ground. She died first before his son perished. The ogre was kicked down by the Earth's Supreme Deity, Kunitokotachi no Mikoto, to the bottom of a ravine because of his sin, got injured on his breastbone, and eventually perished both physically and spiritually. Similarly, the physical body of the "Ashi" ogre incurred the Great Kami's disciplinary punishment. He became emaciated day by day, finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. He ended up dead in agony from pulmonary tuberculosis.
     While the above son and daughter were the "Ashi" ogre's children with his former wife, he also had a son with the dragon-woman. The "Ashi" ogre, having lost his two children, attempted to install his remaining son as his heir, while the dragon-woman was also desperate to make him her heir. She had stern parents. They would not let go of their daughter's son because they wanted to make him successor to their family line. The "Ashi" ogre forced him away from them to own him but ended up killing him as he was ripped apart in two pieces. The child, who had died dismembered in the spiritual realm, died in agony of pulmonary tuberculosis in the physical realm, feeling apologetic to his mother when he sided with his father and to his father when he sided with his mother. Thus the "Ashi" ogre's lineage became extinct both spiritually and physically whereas the dragon-woman leads a solitary life as a widow without any heirs even today.
     Dragon-women in general are allowed to be reborn into the human world after completing their ascetic practices in the sea under extreme cold and heat conditions for a thousand years, in mountains for another thousand years, and in rivers for still another thousand years. They must take the veil or serve the Kami to lead a pure and sacred life by abstaining from sexual intercourse in their first lifetime as a human. If they break their abstinence, they will waste their three-millennium asceticism and degenerate back into a dragon body. Therefore, dragon-women do not enjoy company with men, are beautiful, have piercing eyes, and may retain a few scales somewhere on their bodies. One will incur the grudge and revenge of dragon deities if one takes advantage of various self-interests, obligations, human feelings and other circumstances unique to the human world to rape a dragon-woman or cause her to be raped. Generally, if a man violates a dragon-woman, the relationship between them as a married couple will never last long; the husband will often die young, and the dragon-woman will repeat a similar tragedy no matter how many times she finds a new relationship, exposing her violator and his descendants to the curse and suffering of dragon deities.

         (Dictation taken by Masaharu Taniguchi [32] on October 19 by the solar calendar, or September 19 by the lunar calender, Taisho 10 (1921))

Chapter 18: Situation of the spirit world   〔18〕

     I would now like to speak a little about how the shin-kai ("world of divinities") and the yu-kai ("world of lost spirits") are related to the material world.
     The shin-kai and the yu-kai transcend time and space, not having the slightest concept of time. Therefore, what you witness in the Spirit World may emerge in the material world in a few days, a decade or centuries. You may also be shown ancient times like centuries ago or millennia ago. The way you see the past, present and future is like seeing them all in a mirror at one time. They may look the same, but you can clearly infer their differences.
     If you are in the Spirit World, your spiritual eyes will make no distinctions such as between time and space, light and darkness, top and bottom, large and small or wide and narrow, seeing them all equally and in parallel.
     The stories I am telling you here will not always unfold in the order of what I saw in the Spirit World. There are times when I meet a person whose soul I have encountered early in the Spirit World much later in the physical world; there are other times when I meet a person whose soul I have encountered late in the Spirit World much earlier in the physical world. I have watched some characters act out the Great Divine Drama of the Whole Universe on the prestigious Spirit-World stage, and their respective peformances are manifesting themselves in the physical world over wildly different time periods.
     Despite this time variance, I believe what I once observed in the Spirit World will definitely be re-enacted as the divine drama in the material world.
     The tenkai ("Heaven"), one of the three major realms composing the Spirit World and also known as the shinkai ("Divine Realm") [33], is governed by the Great Kami Amaterasu. While I will detail her reign later, I would now like to highlight the chaotic state of Earth's divine realm. Kunitokotachi no Mikoto had heretofore ruled Earth's divine realm, but unavoidable entanglements forced him into seclusion as shown in the Omoto Shinyu ("The Divine Revelation of Omoto").
     The kami who won a popular mandate to succeed Kunitokotachi no Mikoto in ancient times was the Great Kami Pangu, a body-soul being appearing in an area currently known as China. He was quite obedient and far from a bad kami. That is why many other kamis placed high hopes on him. The world today is demarcated by various national borders into Japan, China, Russia and others, but no such distinctions existed in Kunitokotachi's divine reign.
     However, nations as a form of government have emerged since the tenson korin ("descent to earth of the grandson of the sun goddess"), and a country known as Japan was built. Countries were also built outside Japan as if the brine that dripped down from the end of the spear was piled up and became an island [34]. When Japan was founded and the world ramified into various other countries, the Great Kami Pangu was born in China, came to the Middle Land of Reed-Plains (i.e. Japan) and succeeded Kunitokotachi no Mikoto. He used Yatsuoh Daijin, the chief executive deity under his direct control, to govern the world from the Middle Land. He also assigned a yatsuoh monarch and a yatsugashira governor to each country to serve as chief representative of the region's soul and as chief administrator, respectively. This yatsuoh-yatsugashira system was modeled after the governing structure in Japan with the Great Kami Pangu sitting at the top and Yatsuoh Daijin coming under him. Yatsuoh Daijin supervised the yatsuoh monarchs and yatsugashira governors of foreign countries from Japan, and the Great Kami Pangu exercised comprehensive oversight of Yatsuoh Daijin's performance. Those yatsuoh monarchs and yatsugashira governors were inherently good deities. The former were ordained by Heaven to represent the soul of each nation whereas the latter assumed the role of prime minister. This is how the divine world worked until Kunitokotachi no Mikoto was reinstated in the present times.
     In the meantime, some evil vibrations from heaven and earth gathered and solidified into an evil spirit around what is known today as Russia. This evil spirit is the one which took the form of that ugly Yatsugashira Yatsuo ("Eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent") and which the Deity Kamususanowo no Mikoto subdued and led to mend its ways. Yatsugashira Yatsuo had until today striven to gradually demoralize the divine realm by letting portions of its spirit invade and possess each yatsuoh monarch and yatsugashira governor in the world. Other evil vibrations of extreme negativity gathered in India and solidified into Kimmoh-kyubi Hakumen no Akko ("White-faced evil fox with nine blonde tails"). Kimmo-kyubi also let portions of its spirit invade and possess the wife of each yatsuoh monarch or yatsugashira governor in the world.
     Yet another ogre-shaped evil spirit emerged as evil vibrations gathered and solidified in a land of Jews. This evil spirit was plotting to destroy all the systems in the divine and physical realms, become the leader of the world and plunge the entire world into one of ghosts, demons, monsters and the like. Japan, however, was such a special land of gods that it had successfully remained solemn and immutably prominent on earth, warding off any invasion by these three devils. All the yatsuoh monarchs and yatsugashira governors were deprived of their control over those evil spirits as their three-way struggle intensified; the earthly world was filled with rage, hatred, jealousy, envy, strife and other evil deeds, and this eventually erupted into uncontrollable chaos throughout the three major realms of the Spirit World.
     The Creator of the Universe in Heaven, the Great Kami of supreme benevolence and love, foresaw that at the current pace the divine realm, the earthly realm, and the realm of perverted spirits would face total destruction. He summoned Kunitokotachi no Mikoto to appear before Him and delegated him to transform the divine and earthly realms. It was also decided that Hitsujisaru no Konjin, Kin Katsukane no Kami, Ryugu no Otohime, and Hinode no Kami would play supportive roles in this grand divine mission. All the remaining kami serving Ushitora no Konjin would also join the mission in their respective capacities, with the byakko ("white foxes") working behind the scenes. Sensing impending danger, direct descendants of Heavenly Deities like Konohana-sakuya Hime and Hiko-hohodemi no Mikoto decided to aid Kunitokotachi no Mikoto in his divine work. The righteous deities' mission was making steady progress. All the other associated body-souls were destined to congregate in the taka-ama-hara ("plain of high heaven") where they would join ascetic practices of the divine realm to play their respective roles in serving the divine mission.
     Oh Kuninushi no Mikoto ("His Augustness Master-of-the-Great-Land") used to rule the Middle Land of Reed-Plains by force of arms in ancient times. Prior to the tenson korin ("descent to earth of the grandson of the sun goddess"), the ancestral Sun Goddess dispatched her messengers to the Middle Land three times before eventually forcing Oh Kuninushi no Mikoto into submission by military power. Oh Kuninushi exhausted all the options and surrendered his authority over the physical realm to the grandson of the Sun Goddess in compliance with the mandate from heaven. He then hid himself behind a fresh brushwood fence to rule the afterlife with Kotoshironushi, one of his sons [35].
     The descent of the grandson of the Sun Goddess in this age was to reign the physical realm of the whole planet Earth, not to rule the small swath of the planet currently known as Japan alone. Still incomplete, the world was filled with all evils including hatred, anger, grudge, jealousy and struggle. This thwarted the ambition of the Great Kami in Heaven, plunging the world into a pandemonium of the strong preying on the weak with the divine and physical realms of the Earth on the verge of almost total collapse.

To be continued...

The webmaster's note:
[1] ^ Ninth Emperor according to the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") and the Nihon Shoki ("Chronicles of Japan"). Also see SECT. LXII. - EMPEROR KAI-KUWA. of the Kojiki.

[2] ^ Literally "Procedures (or Institutes) of the Engi Era (901-923)." It is a 50-volume text which includes legal and administrative procedures and the ritual and ceremonial calendar of the Imperial Court. It also recognizes over 3,000 official shrines nationwide.

[3] ^ 25th Emperor (489 A.D. - 506 A.D.). Also see Section CLXXII - Emperor Mu-retsu of the Kojiki.

[4] ^ 26th Emperor (450 A.D. - 531 A.D.). Also see Section CLXXIII. - Emperor Kei-tai of the Kojiki.

[5] ^ Small former Japanese oval gold coins.

[6] ^ Rhododendron dilatatum.

[7] ^ Literally translated as "word spirit," it refers to mystical power believed to reside in spoken words of the Japanese.

[8] ^ Large former Japanese oval gold coins.

[9] ^ Obata Shrine. The kanji characters for Obata are the same as the kanji characters for koban ("small banner (pataka)")

[10] ^ For reference, see SECT. IX. - THE LAND OF HADES.

[11] ^ Literally, "surviving soliders of a defeated army" or "soldiers fleeing the battlefield."

[12] ^ The genkai ("physical realm"), the yukai ("realm of lost spirits"), and the shinkai ("realm of divinities").

[13] ^ According to Buddhism, the four debts of gratitude refer to:
  1. Debt of gratitude to be paid to one's father and mother
  2. Debt of gratitude to be paid to the ruler of the nation
  3. Debt of gratitude to be paid to all living beings, and
  4. Debt of gratitude to be paid to the three treasures, i.e. the Buddha, dharma (Buddhist teachings) and sangha (community of Buddhist believers).
[14] ^ Literally, "May my soul prosper according to the Kami" or "May my soul be filled with happiness, protected and guided according to the Will of the Kami." Somewhat similar to "Amen," this phrase is often used to end Japanese ritual prayers.

[15] ^ A unit of length in the old Japanese system of weights and measures. One ri roughly equals 0.31 mile.

[16] ^ For those who doubt that soul dwells in inanimate objects, it is useful to differentiate between rei (soul) and sei-rei (sophisticated soul). Rei (soul) is ubiquitous not just in minerals and plants but in every other being that takes on a certain shape as well. That is because rei is what makes the shape remain as it is; conversely, the shape would crumble in no time at all without rei.

The same applies to humans and animals, although their rei is specially termed sei-rei (sophisticated soul). All animate beings have sei-rei, whether they be corporeal or discarnate entities, good or evil spirits.

It is perhaps the Kami's mercy that inanimate objects do not possess sei-rei. If they did, they could not bear to sit still in one place for too long.

The state of rei varies among creatures; it is latent in minerals, dormant in plants, and active in animals. In case what is supposed to be the latent or dormant rei of minerals or of plants becomes so active as to respond to people, they will often be the object of worship as holy rocks or sacred trees.

[17] ^ The Divine Revelation of Omoto. It is a compilation of Nao Deguchi's Ofudesaki ("Tip of the Writing Brush") messages from Deity Kunitokotachi no Mikoto that have been edited by Onisaburo Deguchi.

[18] ^ The honorific title of Nao Deguchi in Omoto.

[19] ^ Onisaburo Deguchi. Mitsuba, short for mitsubatsutsuji (Rhododendron dilatatum), implies the Three August Deities, or the Mizu Spirit. For more, see "Chapter 1: Training on the sacred mountain."

[20] ^ The Heaven-Shining-Great-August-Deity, also commonly referred to as the Sun Goddess. She is believed to be the great-grandmother of the legendary first emperor, Jimmu. For reference, see SECT. X. - THE PURIFICATION OF THE AUGUST PERSON of the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") by Basil Hall Chamberlain.

[21] ^ Literally, "May my soul prosper according to the Kami" or "May my soul be filled with happiness, protected and guided according to the Will of the Kami." Somewhat similar to "Amen," this phrase is often used to end Japanese ritual prayers.

[22] ^ Literally, the "Gold[or Metal]-Triumph[or Supremacy]-Pivot-Deity."

[23] ^ Suggestive of "Hitsujisaru no Konjin," the wife-deity of Ushitora no Konjin.

[24] ^ Literally, the "Great origin of the way" by Chikaatsu Honda (1823-1889), a Shinto priest and scholar, whose spiritual studies exerted considerable influence on Onisaburo's teachings.

The Michi no taigen is "a short assemblage of 24 individual sentences in literary-style Chinese, regarded as the quintessence of Honda's teaching"
(Chinkon Kishin: Mediated Spirit Possession in Japanese New Religions by Birgit Staemmler. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2009)

An anecdote has it that Chikaatsu Honda prophesied Onisaburo's visit to Katsutate Nagasawa, one of his disciples, some 10 years after his death, as shown in the following excerpt:
"Nagasawa told Kisaburo much about spiritual science and about the career of Chikaatsu Honda, while his mother Toyoko gave him three books which Honda had given them.

"To Kisaburo's surprise, Toyoko delightedly told him, 'One of the last things Honda said was that some ten years later a young man would come from the province of Tamba, and that it was from Tamba that the Way of the Gods would open. Without a doubt you are the man who will succeed to his great will."

(The Great Onisaubro Deguchi by Kyotaro Deguchi. Translated by Charles Rowe. Tokyo: Aiki News, 1998. 22 p.)

Actually, Kisaburo Ueda (Onisaburo's real name) met Chikaatsu Honda on the Nashiki Pass in Oji, Tamba before he attained spiritual awakening. The Omoto Revelation says that their encounter was fated as part of the Grand Design of the Kami.

[25] ^ Father of Ji Fa, the founder of the ancient Chinese Zhou dynasty (1046 - 256 BC). For more details, see the link Encyclopedia Britannica on Wenwang

[26] ^ One real-life model is said to be Kou-kichi Ueda, a brother of Onisaburo Deguchi, who had served as a Shinto priest at Hinumanai Shrine in northern Kyoto.

[27] ^ One real-life model is said to be Koto Tada, one of Onisaburo's girlfriends, who aided him in his nascent missionary work.

[28] ^ One real-life model of the woman here is said to be Hisako Fukushima, the third daughter of Nao Deguchi. Hisako waited in the area of Yagi for what Nao's Ofudesaki writings prophesied "a person who will be able to understand these things will appear from the east." Ushitora no Konjin, a deity possessing Nao was later identified as Kunitokotachi no Mikoto, or the Great King presiding over the Court of Yama in the underworld.

Hisako would later create her own faction to defy Onisaburo by every possible means.

An excerpt from The Great Onisaburo Deguchi published by Aiki News reads as follows:
This person finally came to Ayabe on October 8, 1898, when Tamba was adorned in rich autumn colors. But far from the gallant figure one might expect, the man who presented himself to Nao was a strange and comical-looking youth sporting an old-fashioned cloak and blackened teeth and carrying an umbrella and a basket.

"I've been sent here by Hisako fukushima of Yagi. Is it here that the old lady is living, who is said to be the medium of Ushitora no Konjin?" Kisaburo asked casually.

[29] ^ The parent Kami of all humanity, primarily worshipped by believers of the Konkoyo, or the Konko ("Golden Light") faith.

[30] ^ Often synonymous with the headquarters of the Omoto faith in Ayabe northwest of central Kyoto.

[31] ^ The belief in the magical and prophetic power of Japanese words and syllables. Literally, "the spirit of the word."

[32] ^ A former Omoto follower who took Onisaburo's oral dictation for the Reikai Monogatari. He later founded the new religion Seicho no Ie.

[33] ^ For a breakdown of the Spirit World, see the table in Chapter 5: Training in the spirit world.

[34] ^ See SECT. III. - THE ISLAND OF ONOGORO of the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters") by Basil Hall Chamberlain.


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