Chusaku was born in 1836 in Toyoda Village, Yamanobe County, Yamato Province (present-day Toyoda-cho, Tenri City) as the eldest son of Chusaku and Ryu Tsuji. His childhood name was Chuyemon (忠右衛門).
Chusaku was said to have been born with a never-give-up attitude and immersed himself completely in everything that he did. Because he worked three times as much as the average person, people came to call him “Sennichi-san” (Mr. 1000 days). He adopted his father’s name for himself (Chusaku) at age 23 when he became the head of the Tsuji household.
Embracing the faith
Chusaku first turned to Oyasama for help in 1863 when his younger sister Kura succumbed to a mental disorder. Not soon after, he came to believe more fervently after his son Yoshimatsu was saved from a mysterious fever.
Gradually, Chusaku’s devotion increased. His visits to the Residence, which were initially limited to the 26th of the month, grew until he visited Oyasama every evening after he finished a day’s work in the fields to hear the teachings from her. According to tradition, one particular verse from the Ofudesaki is said to have been written just before he visited Oyasama, who told him to “Look over it carefully.”
In 1864, he was one of several followers who received the Sazuke of the Gohei and the Sazuke of Fertilizer. Chusaku was also one of the first followers to learn the Teodori or Service Dance from Oyasama.
Chusaku had a friendly competition with Gisaburo Nakata, who was also a resident of Toyoda Village. Beginning in 1874, they often accompanied Oyasama when she was summoned by the authorities regarding her religious activities. Even after he and others were pressured to abandon the faith, Chusaku became ever more devoted, even to the point where he would tie an extra pair of sandals around his waist as he went about to engage in salvation work. The police allegedly told him: “Go ahead and continue your belief with all your might. We in turn will use all our might to stop you.”
Chusaku was one of four followers who were the very first to receive Sazuke grants that were specifically used to alleviate physical ailments. The grant that he received was the only form of the Sazuke that is still available today, the “Sazuke of Ashiki Harai.”
Chusaku was also noted for having an excellent memory. The documents he left behind are considered precious resources divulging information on Tenrikyo’s nascent development.
In 1886, Oyasama directed Chusaku to entrust the family estate to his son Yoshimatsu so he could be a constant presence at the Residence to convey the teachings to others.
Chusaku passed away on July 12, 1905, at the age of 70.
It is assumed that the writings that Chusaku allegedly left behind comprise a portion of Senjin shuki sho (Compendium of forebears’ private writings).
- 『改訂 天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 554. (Bulk of text above comes from this source.)
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 4–7. Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department.
- For a detailed account, see The Life of Oyasama, pp. 36–7.
- See Anecdotes of Oyasama 9.
- 『おふでさき注釈』 Ofudesaki chushaku, p. 52. The particular verse in question is Ofudesaki 3:147.
- The Life of Oyasama, p. 39. According to Tomoji Takano, Chusaku received the Sazuke of Fertilizer in December 1866.
- The Life of Oyasama, pp. 71–2.
- 中山正善 Nakayama Shozen. 『代十六回講義講習会第一次講習録抜粋』 Dai jurokkai kogikoshu-kai daiichiji koshuroku bassui, p. 35.