"Seventy-five Years" (Shichijugo nen)

This phrase occurs in an orally transmitted text--attributed to Oyasama--which says: "God will have purified much of Japan during the seventy-five years following God's descent into this Residence. Thereafter, the name 'Tenri-O-no-Mikoto' is to spread toward all corners of the world."

The number "seventy-five" is also found in a version of the Story of the Divine Record that says that the first humans, totaling nine hundred million, ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred, ninety-nine, were born in various parts of the country over a period of seventy-five days. Although the two instances of the number in question would seem to be connected, there is no clear evidence to support such a connection.

Great importance has been placed on the text quoted above in relation to promoting the overseas mission in particular. First, this text was used by Kichitaro Matsumura in 1922 when Tenrikyo's headquarters began vigorously to promote the overseas mission, as well as the "double-the-membership" drive, in anticipation of the 40th Anniversary of Oyasama, which was due four years later (Tenrikyo Seinenkai shi, vol. 2, pp. 588-590). This subsequently led to the establishment in 1925 of Tenri School of Foreign Languages and encouraged the growth of the overseas mission overall. The text was also quoted in the second Shinbashira's Instruction Two of 1927, an Instruction that was designed to inspire the entire Tenrikyo community to actively pursue the overseas mission (Tenrikyo Seinenkai shi, vol. 3, pp. 245-246). In the same year, Tenrikyo also established the "Regulations Relating to the Overseas Mission."

A few decades later, the text in question was quoted once again by the second Shinbashira, when he announced his April 1961 Instruction Two, in which he set out his views on how Tenrikyo should work to prepare for the 80th Anniversary of Oyasama. He used the text to promote the overseas mission--which had previously stalled because of the war--as a key area on which the Tenrikyo community should focus its pre-anniversary activities. The year 1961 was the seventy-fifth year since Oyasama's withdrawal from physical life in 1887, not God the Parent's first revelation, which occurred in 1838. The second Shinbashira based his use of this text on the Divine Direction that taught: "[C]oncerning the twenty-sixth, the principle of the founding and that of the ending are one in truth." Also in 1961, the Overseas Department was enhanced and expanded, and the Shinbashira visited a number of overseas countries. In about the same period, more than a dozen students and graduates from Tenri High School's evening course immigrated to Colombia; the first step was taken in the Congolese mission; and a new sanctuary of the Mission Headquarters in Brazil was completed.

(This article was first published in the December 2008 issue of TENRIKYO.)