Prophet Motive






Deguchi Onisaburo






Taisho Spiritualism



Exhibitionist Tendencies



1. (pp. 20-44) "Deguchi Onisaburo : Early Life to Oomoto Leadership"

p. 31 early authorship

Kisaburo "began to produce large quantities of poetry. ... he often wrote comic haiku and tanka poems ... . ... he established his own haiku club ... . There, he adopted the pen name "Ankambo Kiraku," or "Free and Easy Fellow."

pp. 32-3 Myo-rei-kyo (‘Miraculous-Spirit-Sect’)

p. 32

The "spiritualist sect known as Myoreikyo ... was established in 1861 by Yamauchi Rihei in Hyogo prefecture, and in 1878 it affiliated with the state-sanctioned Ontakekyo, a sect centered on mountain worship."

p. 33

Kisaburo "began to give lectures at Myoreikyo churches".

pp. 32-3 spiritual vocation : mountain-pilgrimage; praeternatural temporary paralysis

p. 32

"Kisaburo ... found himself on Mount Takakuma, a nearby mountain to the southwest of Anao, sitting on a rock in a small cave. ... .

{It may be that in reality the experience on mt. Takakuma was sensed during the time while Kisaburo’s physical body was in the insensible trance and being exorcised. If so, then he was doing a projection of the aitherik-double onto the mountain, and was not there physically.}

p. 33

... through this experience, he realized his mission as savior ... and gained abilities, ... and the ability to communicate with the spirit world."


"After his spiritual awakening on Mount Takakuma, Kisaburo returned home but soon ... unable to move his body or to speak or open his eyes. ... His family believed that he was possessed by a ... spirit. They burned red pepper and pine needles ... [as offerings to that] spirit. He ... was suddenly cured".

p. 34 Inari Kos^a

The S^intoist sect Inari Kos^a’s founder "Nagasawa Katsutate (1858-1940) ... tutored {initiated} Kisaburo in esoteric Shintoist practices and identified his guardian deity as Komatsubayashi no Mikoto, a powerful spirit that was a manifestation or divided fragment of Susanoo no Mikoto, the brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu ... . ... Susanoo assumed a more important position in later Oomoto doctrine".

pp. 35, 38 initial reception of Kisaburo by Deguc^i Nao

p. 35

"in July 1898, Kisaburo received a divine message that he was to go to Sonobe, where someone was waiting for him. He lest Anao without delay ... . ...

The deity told Nao that a man who would help her would come, and she sent her daughter Hisa to find him."

p. 38

"When Kisaburo first called on Nao in 1898, she was highly suspicious of his ties to Inari Kosha because of its association with fox and badger spirits."

pp. 35, 38-40 Deguc^i Nao

p. 35

"Deguchi Nao, a poor, elderly peasant woman from Ayabe, a rural area in Kyoto prefecture, began receiving divine revelations in 1892. She recorded them in kana syllabary in a document called the Ofudesaki, or the tip of the brush. The divinely inspired writings continued throughout her life and eventually reached nearly two hundred thousand pages".

p. 38-9

"Onisaburo married Nao’s youngest daughter and heir, Sumiko, on January 1, 1900."

p. 40

Nao "attempted ... in 1900 ... instituting a new Oomoto practice : difficult pilgrimages (shusshu) to sacred sites revealed in her divinations."

pp. 38-9, 43 early organizations established by Kisaburo; his priesthood

p. 38

"Kisaburo ... continued ..., establishing a spiritual studies society called Reigakukai (Association for the Study of Spirit). ...

Kisaburo created a new organization, the Kinmei Reigakukai (the Bright Metal Association for the Study of Spirit ...)".

p. 39

"Kisaburo adopted the name Onisaburo, chosen for its allusion to Wani, described in the Kojiki as a legendary scholar who first brought Chinese characters to Japan from the ancient Korean kingdom of Kudara and whose name was written with the same characters."

p. 43

"After his graduation [from a S^into religious seminary] in March 1907, Kisaburo passed the examination for Shinto priesthood and was awarded am appointment at Kenkun Shrine in northern Kyoto ... . He was soon dismissed".


2. (pp. 45-75) "Neo-Nativism : Oomoto Views"

pp. 50-1 Onisaburo’s organization & its affiliation

p. 50

At Ayabe, Onisaburo created the "Chokureikai (the Association of the Direct Spirit)", which obtained in "January 1911 ... affiliation with Izumo Oyashirokyo, the Shinto sect associated with the Grand Shrine of Izumo".

p. 51

In 1915, Onisaburo created "ten peripatetic squads of young missionaries ..., known as Chokureigun (Army of the Direct Spirit) ... . ... Members had long hair because of their belief that hair (kami) provided a bridge to God (kami). [p. 207, n. 2:29 : "growing one’s hair long was also a practice of Nativists of the Atsutane school."] They wore sashes, sedge hats, and straw sandals and marched through the streets carrying banners and flags and beating drums."

pp. 54-5, 207 kotodama & its authors

p. 54

"Koto could indicate either a word or a thing, and the ancient poets were therefore though to believe in a special relationship between name and thing."

p. 207, n. 2:39

"For a ... view of kotodama ..., see Roy Andrew Miller, Japan’s Modern Myth : The Language and Beyond (New York : Weatherhill, 1982)."

p. 55

"kotodama is often associated with rhyming games and wordplay, widespread phenomena ... from at least the Edo period forward ... in both serious and parodic literature and drama."

p. 207, n. 2:43

"On ... witty wordplay in the Edo period, see Howard Hibbett, The Chrysanthemum and the Fish : Japanese Humor ... (Tokyo : Kodansha, 2002), 11-42."

p. 55

"Central figures in nineteenth-century kotodama studies, like Yamaguchi Shido and Nakamura Kodo, Onisaburo’s great-grandfather, published widely circulated texts".

pp. 56-7 Ois^igori’s apparitional writing on water

p. 56

"Oishigori Masuumi (1832-1911), whose ... discovery of mizuguki moji, archaic characters said to mysteriously appear on the surface of water. ... .

... during the 1870’s, Oishigori was ... traveling by boat along Lake Biwa. ... There he saw that the ripples formed ... seventy-five signs ..., expressing the voiced sounds of kotodama. ... Oishigori ... practiced Honda Chikaatsu’s chinkon kishin spirit possession technique ... and claimed to be possessed by Takenouchi no Sukume, a legendary figure ... . ...

p. 57

Oishigori’s characters, which somewhat resembled the Korean Hangul alphabet, were featured as part of the cover design of Oomoto’s first widely distributed journal, Shin reikai."

208, n. 2:50

"Beginning in April 1919, Shin reikai ... sporadically published ... Oishigori writings on kotodama."

pp. 57-8 punning satires; reformulations

p. 57

"Onisaburo had written puns since his youth, once publishing Owarai jiten (Dictionary of Big Laughs), filled with plays on words and rhyming games. Using homophone puns, he defined

religious professionals (shukyoka) as ugly lunatic mosquitoes;

aristocracy (kizokuin) as a secret family of devils;

Diet members (daigishi) as big, deceitful masters; and

Christian teachings (yasokyo) as a painful resurrection."


"Onisaburo used the homophone substitution technique while editing and reformulating Nao’s Ofudesaki. Unlike the Ofudesaki of Tenri

p. 58

kyo, which preserved exactly the original words written by Nakayama Miki ..., Onisaburo’s version freely deleted, appended, and manipulated ... words ... . After 1917, the primary text of Oomoto was not Nao’s Ofudesaki but Shinnyu, Onisaburo’s representation of the former text".

p. 59 names of deities of Omoto theology aequivalent to deities in standard S^into theology

in Omoto

in S^into

Us^itora no Konjin

Kuni-toko-tac^i no Mikoto

Komatsubayas^i no Mikoto


Mizu no Mitama


pp. 59-60 Oomoto mythology

p. 59

"Amaterasu was a deity of heaven who gave her descendant Kunitokotachi no Mikoto ... the right and responsibility of ruling the earth. ... He withdrew to the northeast, the geomantic direction of bad luck ... . Upon Kunitokotachi’s seclusion the earth ... degenerated from a world of good ... into a world of evil ... where the strong devoured the weak. ... the degenerate world was one in which materialism prevailed over religiosity ... . ...

p. 60

To permit Kunitokotachi to reappear, however, Amaterasu ... had fallen to earth. where she would be Kunitokotachi’s assistant. Together they would "repair the chaotic world." {Goddess "Nu:wa not only mended the broken sky, but also repaired the broken earth that was damaged in the same disaster." (HChM, p. 172) This calamity was a result of the doings of Gon-gon (HChM, p. 171). [With Chinese /KUN-/ (/Gon-/) cf. Japanese /KUNi-/.]} When a state of divine governance had been fully achieved, ... Kunitokotachi would reclaim rulership of the earth, and Amaterasru would be restored to heaven."

HChM : Lihui Yang & Deming An : Handbook of Chinese Mythology. Oxford U Pr, 2005.

pp. 60-2 Izumo & Ise theologies

p. 60

"In the thirteenth century the Watarai family priests, who controlled the Outer Shrine at Ise, asserted that "secret books" ... identified the god of their shrine, Toyouke, as a manifestation of ... Ame no Minakanushi ... . ...


Izumo, which enshrined Okuninushi no Kami and Susanoo no Mikoto, both associated with Kunitokotachi no Mikoto, represented a strong oppositional force to Ise Shrine. ... Earlier ...

p. 61

Hirata and Motoori both placed Okuninushi ... at the top of the hierarchy ..., considering him the greatest of gods. [Thal 2005, p.115] The hereditary high priest of the Izumo, known as the kokuzo, was said to be a living god descended from the deity Amenohohi no Mikoto and thus held a level of divine authority that rivaled the emperor’s. [p. 209, n. 2:73 : "Amenohohi no Mikoto ... emerged when Susanoo had chewed some jewels and placed them in the palm of his right hand".] ... Okuninushi ... was ruler of the land and the underworld, as well as guardian kami of clothing, food, and housing."


"According to a brief account in the Kojiki, Okuninushi simply hands the land over to the Sun Goddess. In contrast, the Nihon shoki contains a more detailed account, whereby Okuninushi, the possessor of the land, joins forces with the god Sukunabikono to turn the land into an abundant place where people can prosper. The two gods teach the people ways to cure disease and magical methods for preventing crop damage from birds, animals, and insects. In this account, Okuninushi ... proclaims, "It is I, and I alone, who now govern this land.""

p. 62

"The holy fire ... was supposedly granted to the original kokuzo from his ancestral god Amenohohi no Mikoto." There was holy "water received from Moto Ise ... . Moto Ise, the "original" Ise, ... was believed to be the site where Amaterasu had hidden herself in the rock cave."

Thal 2005 = Sarah E. Thal : Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods. U of Chicago Pr.

summary of theology














3. (pp. 76-107) "Taisho Spiritualism"

p. 81 kokkurisan; hypnotism; clairvoyance

"Kokkurisan was a variant of table-turning, a se’ance ... in which participants placed their hands around a table and waited for it to move and indicate the presence of spirits. ... The name Kokkurisan contained the Chinese characters for foxes, tengu (mountain goblins) and badgers ... ." [Foster 2006:256]

"by the mid 1890s, hypnotism had infiltrated ... . Hypnotists were in high demand ..., in the tradition of misemono sorcery shows."

"Tokyo Imperial University professor Kukurai Tomokichi conducted experiments with a series of gifted female psychics – Mifune Chizuko, Nagao Ikuko, and Takahashi Sadako."

Foster 2006 = Michael Dylan Foster : "The Mystery of Kokkuri". J OF ASIAN STUDIES 65, no. 2.

pp. 83-5, 213 Tenri-kyo

p. 83

"Tenrikyo’s founder[ess], Nakayama Miki, first gained fame as a healer who could grant safe and painless childbearing (obiya yurushi). Two of the rituals she employed for healing were iki and teodori. The iki no sazuke, or granting of breath, referred to the Tenrikyo creation myth in which God breathed on every human creature as it came into existence. {"By the word of YHWH were the Heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth."} In this practice, garments from the afflicted were brought before Miki, who breathed upon them. When the sick person put on the garment, miraculous recovery followed. The teodori

p. 84

no sazuke, a dance consisting of choreographed hand gestures, is still widely practiced by Tenri today."

p. 213, n. 3:40

"Tenrikyo also practiced ogi no sazuke, in which the patient’s chances for recovery were ascertained by the use of a fan held in the lap of a meditator in a state of trance. If the fan moved upward, it indicated that the patient would recover.

Jikimotsu no sazuke and mizu no sazuke were the dispensation of specially blessed food and holy water respectively."

pp. 84-5 Kurozumi-kyo; Konko-kyo

p. 84

Kurozumi-kyo : Kurozumi Munetada ... used a rice scoop, dubbed a miteshiro, for replacement for the hand, as a healing instrument."

p. 85

"Healing in Konkokyo was achieved through ... the dispensation of specially cleansed rice and holy water".

p. 90 the 3 modes of spirit-possession, according to Honda C^ikaatsu

induced by __


ji (‘self’)

"possession by evil spirits"

s^in (kami)

"Founders of new religions"

takan (‘other’)

induced by "the saniwa, a spirit channeler who had the power to ... determine the rank and character of the possessing spirit"

p. 93 posture by kannushi & action by saniwa

"The receiver, or kannushi, took the proper posture, kneeling in seiza position and crossing his legs so that the big toe of the right foot rested on the big toe of the left foot. He or she made the chinkon mudra (also called the ama no nuhoko) by holding the hands at chest level, fingers interlaced and pointing toward the palm, index fingers pointing upwards".

"the saniwa clapped his hands and began to play a stone flute or ocarina (iwabue)".

p. 94 badger-spirits & fox-spirits

usual conduct of a se’ance : The saniwa would say : "I am not questioning the physical body. ... I’m talking to the possessing spirit ... . Who are you?" Voices began to call out at once. "I’m a badger"; "A badger"; "I’m a fox"; "A fox.""

{In Tibet, there is a species of fox which will hunt in co-operation with a badger. (Likewise, in Navaho territory, a coyote will co-operate with a badger.) This inter-species co-operation could exemplify other sorts of potential inter-species co-operation.}

p. 103 meditative procedures of other sects, derived from Omoto

"Okada Mokichi, the founder of Sekai Kyuseikyo, ... achieved prominence in the postwar period through the promotion of jorei, ... an energy-channeling healing technique whereby a "white light tinged with gold" was channeled through the hand."

"Taniguchi Masaharu’s Seicho no Ie, established in 1930, employs a meditative procedure called shinsokan".

p. 103 uniform worn by missionaries of Omoto

"A new type of missionary was trained to teach Onisaburo’s Reikai monogatari rather than Nao’s Ofudesaki. The missionaries received a ... new uniform, consisting of a wide-sleeved silk robe printed with patterns of blue, yellow, and violet and hemmed with bands of rainbow colors. The ensemble was topped by a dark brown fez with a black tassel."


4. (pp. 108-41) "Exhibitionist Tendencies : Visual Technologies for Proselytization"

p. 115 spiritual technique in artistry

"In painting of living things [animals], after one had sketched the outlines, it was important to draw in the nose, for if one did not quickly give the painting breath, it would die. ... for infusing energy in his calligraphic works : he wrote a character with a single breath, so that its spirit could not escape."

pp. 135, 137 Lucky Deities accepted by Omoto

p. 135

"Ebisu, ... a tutelary god of ... commerce, ... is the first to appear."

p. 137

"the long-headed Taoist immortal Fukurokuju, sometimes known as Jurojin, ... drinks tea ... under a ginkgo tree ... . This deity is said to embody the ideals of luck (fuku), verdancy (roku), and longevity (ju)."


"the final one is Hotei, a Chinese monk known for carrying his possessions in a large treasure bag."

p. 137 Lucky Deities figured as visiting Omoto locales





Bis^amonten (Vais`ravana)

Kameyama castle

Benzaiten (Sarasvati)

Gekkyuden (Palace of the Moon)


Nancy K. Stalker : Prophet Motive : Deguchi Onisaburo. U of HI Pr, Honolulu, 2008.