"Konpeito Incident" (Konpeito jiken)

This incident happened in late November 1905, when a Tenrikyo missionary active in Minami-Tsugaru County, Aomori Prefecture, was stopped by the police, who searched through her bag and found some sugar candy called "konpeito" in it. Having detained her on suspicion of an offense involving the use of the sugar candy as a sacred gift, the police claimed that their analysis of the candy showed the presence of morphine (Nakayama Shinnosuke den, pp. 310-311).

Over a number of years before this incident, the sacred gift, seen as leading to many miraculous healings, had been giving ammunition to those who were bent on attacking Tenrikyo. Under growing pressure, Tenrikyo leaders sought the help of Divine Directions on February 4, 1899, making a "request for directions on how to deal with various rumors and warnings regarding the sacred gift of sugar candy," as says the heading of an entry for that day in the Osashizu. Following Tenrikyo's second application for independence (1901), the Religious Affairs Bureau of the Home Ministry advised Tenrikyo on several occasions to end the use of sugar candy--which had previously, in about 1878, replaced hattaiko, roasted barley powder--as a sacred gift. The Divine Direction delivered on April 3, 1904, eventually gave permission to change the sacred gift from sugar candy to rinsed rice and provided instructions on how to prepare it. The change took effect on April 10 that year. However, Aomori Prefecture being distant from Tenrikyo's headquarters, the change had not yet been known to that missionary, who was thus still using sugar candy as the sacred gift. Tenrikyo's headquarters immediately sent officials to deal with the situation. Eventually, an inquiry found that the claim about morphine was baseless and constituted nothing more than a campaign of slander against Tenrikyo. Although the case was thus closed, it is said to have had some adverse effect on Tenrikyo's attempt to secure independence.

(This article was first published in the September 2007 issue of TENRIKYO.)