Sunday, October 3, 2010
Journey to the Center of the Universe
On the 2nd of October, in the 2010th year of our Lord, I journeyed to the center of Universe: Tenri. Tenri is a city in the Nara Prefecture famous for the new religious movement (cult) called Tenrikyo. Here’s a brief synopsis of the religion from wikipedia:
“Tenrikyo (天理教 Tenrikyō) is a monotheistic religion originating in revelations to a 19th-century Japanese woman named Nakayama Miki, known as Oyasama by followers. Followers of Tenrikyo believe that God, known by several names including Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, expressed divine will through Nakayama's role as the Shrine of God, and to a lesser extent the roles of the Honseki Izo Iburi and other leaders. Tenrikyo's worldly aim is to teach and promote the Joyous Life, which is cultivated through acts of charity and mindfulness called hinokishin.”
Tenrikyo is like the scientology of Japan, with Tenri being it’s Clearwater.
I went with Rogue (let’s go with X-men names from from now eh?), a first year Nara JET living in Tenri. She first took me to the main temple of Tenrikyo, Daikyokai (literally- Big Church). The building is absolutely beautiful and humongous. We took our shoes off as we entered the main shrine, the center of the universe. Why do I keep calling it the center of the universe? According to the religion, Oyasama created the universe at this specific spot, and, according to the teachings, the stone tablet in the center of the large hall is THE CENTER OF THE EFFING UNIVERSE. So now you won’t be surprised when you die and wake up in Tenri. Rogue and I did the traditional ritual when in the large prayer hall. It’s basically 4 claps, bow, 4 claps, bow. Easy enough?
As we rounded the hallways of the large structure, scores of followers were on their hands and knees polishing the floors, chanting prayers. I’ve heard this is form of meditation, but Rogue and I had to bite our lips not to laugh a little. We kind of felt like we were playing Frogger dodging the cleaners. One of them stopped his meditation, stared awkwardly at us, and then continued his anointed cleaning duties. All glory to Scrubbing Bubbles!
After visiting where IT ALL BEGAN, we ventured to Isonokami Jinja. Unlike Nara park where wild deer roam, Isonokami Jinja has wild roosters and chickens walking around.
This shrine also houses some amazing artifacts. I assume because of the minor construction at the site, public viewings of these artifacts are suspended. That won’t stop me from pointing what I COULD HAVE seen:
As always, I'll leave you with something mildly humorous: