Tenrikyo (; "Tenrikyō", lit. "Teaching of Divine Reason"), is a panentheist Japanese New Religion. Tenrikyo is estimated to have about 2 million followers world-wide with 1.5 million of those in Japan. Due to various similarities and some historical categorizations, some consider it to be a form of Sect Shinto - though the beliefs and practices are markedly different. It was founded by a woman, Miki Nakayama, [cite web |title=Tenrikyo Official Home Page|url=http://www.tenrikyo.or.jp/|accessdate=2008-04-21] who underwent revelatory experiences from 1838 onwards. After this date she is referred to as Oyasama (literally Honored Parent) by followers.


The focus of the religion is to attain "yoki yusan" or "yoki gurashi" (joyous life) on Earth through charity and abstention from greed, selfishness, hatred, anger and arrogance.

* "Yo" (陽) is "positive", the same character as "Yang" in the Chinese Yin and Yang.
* "Ki" (氣) is "spirit" or "energy", the same character as Qi in Chinese.
* "Yusan" (遊山) is "an outing to the mountain or fields" (lit. excursion), implying an outgoing life.
* "Gurashi" (暮) is "livelihood", implying life in a more day-to-day sense.

Adherents believe in a single god, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, (God the Parent) "Divine King of Heavenly [Ten] Reason [Ri] " (the term is used as a name-label rather than as a description), who is defined as the creator and caring parent of all mankind. Continuing reincarnation is part of the religion, but is not a major emphasis. Key teachings include: Moto-no-Ri - the principle of origin; Kashimono-Karimono (a thing lent, a thing borrowed) - the natural relationship between the human body and God; Hinokishin - voluntary effort as a means of showing gratitude for Kashimono-Karimono relationship (often charitable or public-service); Tanno (acceptance) - a constructive attitude towards troubles, illness and difficulties without placing judgement on what has happened in the past; and Juzen-no-Shugo - ten principles or providences involved in the creation which exist in Futatsu Hitotsu (two-in-one relationships), these principles are considered to be applied continuously throughout the universe.

In Tenrikyo there are three successive levels of understanding of the nature of God: the first is Kami which is God as understood in every day terms, the second is Tsukihi (lit. Moon Sun), or God as the creator of nature and natural laws, and lastly Oya (Parent), or God as the parent of human beings. These terms refer to three successive levels of people's understanding of one single God as they grow in spiritual maturity.

Many metaphors from building and carpentry are used in Tenrikyo teachings, which view the construction of a better world as a step-by-step process in which people can make small steps towards progress through working together collaboratively.

The spiritual center of the religion is in what was formerly Shoyashiki Village, now part of Tenri City in Nara Prefecture. The main shrine complex centers around the Jiba, a site that is represented in the teachings as the original place of creation.

This teaching was started by Miki Nakayama in 1838, after her son and husband suffered from ailments. The family called a Buddhist monk to exorcise the spirit causing the ailments. During the incantation, God entered into the body of Miki Nakayama and asked to receive her as God's shrine. Miki's husband eventually gave in to God's request after three days.

The senior religious leader is referred to as the Shimbashira (lit. Main Pillar). In the early days of Tenrikyo there was another religious leader in addition to the Shimbashira called the Honseki. The Honseki was originally a man called Izo Iburi who was one of Miki's foremost followers, and he held a revelatory leadership position in which questions of followers would be answered and "timely talks" be given. The revelatory transmissions of the Honseki were written down and collected in large, multi-volume work called Osashizu. Following Izo's death a woman called Ueda Naraito partially carried on this role for a while, although she does not appear to have held the actual title "Honseki". Following this Tenrikyo itself has never had a Honseki, although some Tenrikyo splinter groups believe that the revelatory leadership passed from Iburi to their particular founder or foundress.

Tenrikyo teachings, despite emphasizing group effort, allow for a significant degree of individuality among different followers - differences are seen as complementary, and the overall organization is subdivided into many different groups with common goals but differing focus. These range from different regional Daikyokai (lit. large church), to disaster relief corps, medical staffs and a hospital, a university, an extensive museum, one of the largest libraries in Japan, various schools and several others. Tenri Judo is renowned as a successful competition style of Judo that has produced many champions, and there are also other sporting and arts interest groups within Tenrikyo.


The history of Tenrikyo is turbulent, having been established during a time of great change within Japan. Some of the modern ties to Shinto can be explained through an understanding of the persecution that early followers underwent. Religiously, Tenrikyo has no ties to Shinto at all, although Tenrikyo as an organization was forcibly influenced by State Shinto at a date after Tenrikyo's original founding. Tenrikyo was authorized by the Japanese government as one of the official Thirteen Shinto Sects. After 1946 an internal effort was made within Tenrikyo to remove the State Shinto influences from the religion, and asked to be removed from the government classification "Shinto Sect" and transferred to the classification "Other Religion". That this effort was successful in relation to Tenrikyo as a religion is generally agreed, but it is not true to say that all Shinto influence was completely removed from Tenrikyo as an organization, though much was. For instance, many of the objects used in support of Tenrikyo religious services, such as hassoku and sampo, derive directly from Shinto, as does the general methodology used in the way that offerings are made to a shrine. It is also true that Nakayama Miki's son, Shuji, sought and obtained approval and protection from the powerful Yoshida branch of Shinto at a relatively early stage of Tenrikyo's development. However, this was contrary to the wishes of the foundress.


* 1798, April 18 - Miki Nakayama was born.
* 1838, December 12 (October 26, lunar calendar) - God was revealed through Miki Nakayama at the Mishima Shrine.
* 1887, January 26 - the day on which Oyasama withdrew from physical life.

Religious services

Tenrikyo utilizes traditional musical instruments in its otsutome (lit. service or duty), Hyoshigi (wooden clappers), Chanpon (cymbals), Surigane (small gong), Taiko (large drum), Tsuzumi (shoulder drum), Fue (bamboo flute), Shamisen (a stringed instrument), Kokyu (a smaller stringed instrument), and Koto (a very large stringed instrument). These are used to play music from the Mikagura-Uta, a body of music, dances and songs created by the foundress. Most of the world's foremost authorities on Gagaku music (the ancient classical Shinto music of the imperial court of Japan) are also Tenrikyo followers, and Gagaku music is actively promoted by Tenrikyo, although strictly speaking the Mikagura-Uta and Gagaku are separate musical forms.

The Hyoshigi, Chanpon, Surigane, Taiko, and Fue were traditionally the men's instruments but are acceptable for women to play. The Shamisen, Kokyu, and Koto were traditionally women's instruments and, although not very popular, are acceptable for men to play as well.

Daily services

The Otsutome or daily service consists of the performance of the seated service and, optionally, the practice of a chapter or two of the 12 chapters of Teodori(lit. hand dance) or Yorozuyo. The daily service is performed twice a day; once in the morning and then in the evening. The service times are adjusted according to the time of sun rise and sun set but this can vary from church to church. Service times at the Jiba in Tenri City go by this time schedule and adjust in the changing of seasons.

Instruments used in the daily service are the Hyoshigi, Chanpon, Surigane, Taiko, and Kazutori (counter, to count the 21 times the first section is repeated). The Hyoshigi is always played by the head minister of the church or mission station. If the head minister is not present, anyone may take his or her place.

The daily service does not need to be performed at a church. It can be done anytime and anyplace, so long that one faces the direction of the Jiba, or "home of the parent."

The purpose of the daily service, as taught by Oyasama, is to sweep away the Eight Mental Dusts of our mind, a form of cleansing the mind.

Monthly services

Tsukinamisai or the monthly services is the performance of the entire Mikagura-Uta, the sacred songs of the service, which is the service for world salvation. Generally, mission headquarters and grand churches (churches with 100 or more under it) have the monthly services performed on the third Sunday of every month; other churches perform on any other Sunday of the month. The monthly service at the Jiba is performed on the 26th of every month, the day of the month in which Tenrikyo was first conceived, October 26, 1838.

Instruments used in the monthly services are all of the above. Performers also include dancers; three men and three women, and a singer. Services performers wear traditional montsuki, but may not be required depending on the church.

Divine Grant of Sazuke

The Divine Grant of Sazuke is a healing prayer in which one may attain through attending the nine Besseki lectures. When one receives the Divine Grant of Sazuke, he or she would be considered a Yoboku (lit. useful timber). The Sazuke is to be administered on those who are suffering from illness to request God's blessings of a recovery. Yoboku are limited to administer this healing prayer three times a day per person. It is taught that when God accepts the sincerity of the person administering the Sazuke and the sincerity of the person to whom it is being administered, any wondrous salvation will be bestowed.

Relations with other religions

While Tenrikyo may be considered a religion, it is considered by some followers as a teaching about the universe and does not necessarily interfere with other religious beliefs. It is not unusual for a Tenrikyo follower to also hold Christian beliefs. The relationship between the Tenrikyo organization and the Christian church is quite good, and much Christian symbolism can be seen in the English version of Tenrikyo's main instructional text (Ofudesaki (lit. Tip of the Writing Brush). This may have arisen from the work of Christian missionaries, who provided aid in the initial translations to English.

Tenrikyo centers outside Japan

Tenrikyo maintains centers in:
*France: Paris [ [http://www.tenrikyo.fr Tenrikyo Europe Centre] ]
*United Kingdom: London [ [http://home.btconnect.com/tenrikyo/ Tenrikyo UK Centre] ]
*United Kingdom: Leeds
*Brazil: Bauru [ [http://www.tenrikyo.com.br Tenrikyo do Brasil] ]
*Argentina: Buenos Aires [ [http://www.tenrikyo.com.ar Tenrikyo Buenos Aires] ]
*United States: Los Angeles [ [http://www.tenrikyo.com Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of America] ]
*United States: Hawaii [ [http://tenrikyo-hawaii.com Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of Hawaii] ]
*United States: New York [ [http://www.tenri.org Tenrikyo New York Cultural Institute] ]
*Australia: Brisbane
*Australia: Melbourne [ [http://www.tenrikyo.org.au Tenrikyo Melbourne Shinyu Church] ]
*Taiwan: Taipei
*Mexico: Distrito Federal [ [http://www.tenrikyo.org.mx Asociación Religiosa Tenrikyo] ]
*Colombia: Cali

Notable followers

* Avram Davidson - Science fiction writer and Talmudic scholar who studied Tenrikyo, and may have been converted, in his 50s
* Masako Konishi - Japanese opera singer
* Shozen Nakayama - Founder of Tenri University
* Hirano Narazo - Ex-yakuza (Japanese Mafia); formed the Koriyama Daikyokai
* Rev. Masatoshi Shamoto - Gagaku instructor at the University of Hawaii
* Ayaka Hirahara - Japanese pop singer

ee also

*Religions of Japan
*Tenri University


External links

* [http://www.tenrikyo.or.jp Tenrikyo official site]
* [http://www.tenrikyo.fr Tenrikyo Europe Centre]
* [http://www.tenri.org Tenrikyo New York Cultural Institute]
* [http://www.tenrikyo.org.uk Tenrikyo U.K. Centre]
* [http://www.tenrikyo.com.br Tenrikyo Brazil]
* [http://tenrikyo-hawaii.com Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of Hawaii]
* [http://www.tenrikyo.com.ar Tenrikyo Buenos Aires] (Argentina)
* [http://www.tenrikyo.org.mx Asociación Religiosa Tenrikyo] (Mexico)
* [http://tenrikyology.com/user/roy/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=140&Itemid=14 What are Tenrikyo's basic teachings?] by Roy Forbes [http://tenrikyology.com Tenrikyology]
* [http://newpath2000.org/NP/NP_aboutTenrikyo.htm About Tenrikyo]
* [http://www.tenrikyo.or.jp/en/teaching/teachings/lifeofoya.html Life of Miki Nakayama]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060829153654/religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/tenrikyo.html Religious Movements]

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