From Tenrikyo Resource Wiki
(Redirected from Kagura Service)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Service (Tsutome) refers to the central rite in Tenrikyo and, along with the Sazuke, considered as one of the two main components of what is called the "path of single-hearted salvation."[1]

The Tsutome consists of dancing to the accompaniment of singing and nine musical instruments. The Songs accompanying the Tsutome is referred to as the Mikagura-uta (The Songs for the Service), one of the Three Scriptures of Tenrikyo.

Analysis of the word "Tsutome"

Often preceded in Japanese with the honorific prefix "o" , it is a convention in Tenrikyo to write "o-Tsutome" in hiragana: おつとめ. The kanji that is most commonly associated with the term is , which is a character that means "religious service" when applied as a noun or "work for, be employed by, serve" when applied as a verb.[2]

It may be notable to add that other religious Japanese traditions also refer to some of their rites as "tsutome."[3]

Types of "Tsutome"

The "Tsutome"[4], as it is understood in Tenrikyo, refers to the rite that was taught by Oyasama as a means to bring salvation into reality, which is said to be one of God the Parent's main reasons for taking Oyasama as the Shrine of God.

While there are several types of this "Tsutome," the fundamental and significant form which it takes is the Kagura Service that is conducted with the Jiba-Kanrodai at center.

In contrast to this "Tsutome," there are the daily services (morning/evening services) that were taught as a means to express one's gratitude and pray to God.

A description of the "Tsutome" itself

The Tsutome is said to be a component of the "path of single-hearted salvation" along with the Sazuke. However, in contrast to the Sazuke, which was taught as a means to alleviate physical problems, the Tsutome is said to be a path (means) of manifold saving graces that help alleviate situational problems in addition to physical ones.

Further, it is taught that the Tsutome does not only alleviate physical conditions and situational problems that are merely taking place at the moment, but also invites the "marvelous salvation" of good health, rich harvests, and peace in society to allow the world to be rebuilt into the world of the Joyous Life.

The Tsutome is conducted with the Jiba-Kanrodai at center every 26th of the month as either a Grand Service or Monthly Service of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. (The Tsutome is also conducted on New Year's Day and April 18 as the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service.)[5]

While the Service also includes foot movements, the dance itself is referred to as "Tsutome no te" (literally, the hand [movements] of the Service), "(o-)tefuri" (hand gestures/movements), or "Teodori" (literally, "hand dance" but officially rendered in English as "the Dance with Hand Movements"). Due to the fact the hand movements of the Tsutome are considered as physical expressions of the content and meaning of the Songs, the act of dancing and making these hand movements are referred to as "dancing/gesturing the truth."

The Tsutome is composed of two components: the "Kagura" and "Teodori."

Kagura Service

Positions of the Service Performers in the Kagura Service.

The Kagura (also referred to as the Kagura Service) specifically refers to a ritual in which ten dancers—five men and five women—dance with the Jiba-Kanrodai at center while representing each of the ten aspects of God the Parent's complete providence.

Each dancer wears a mask (either one of two lion masks, four men's masks, or four women's masks). Some dancers wear other specific apparel according to their position. Each dancer dances specific hand movements that symbolically express the aspect of God's providence that they have been assigned to represent.

*The performers representing Izanagi-no-Mikoto and Izanami-no-Mikoto should be situated at the center, but that is impossible because the Kanrodai stands there. Instead, they perform east of Kumoyomi-no-Mikoto, standing face to face.
Aspect of God's providence Position Description of mask and accompanying apparel[6]
Kunitokotachi-no-Mikoto North A male lion mask with open mouth and white hair. A sash hanging from the mask is fastened to the wrist of Taishokuten.
Omotari-no-Mikoto South A female lion mask with closed mouth and black hair. Three sashes from the mask are fastened to the wrists of Kumoyomi, Kashikone, and Otonobe.
Kunisazuchi-no-Mikoto South-East A female mask. A figure of a turtle is strapped to the back of the dancer.
Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto North-West A male tengu mask. A figure of an orca (shachi) is strapped to the back of the dancer.
Kumoyomi-no-Mikoto East A female mask. A sash from the mask of Omotari is tied to the wrist of this dancer.
Kashikone-no-Mikoto South-West A male mask. A sash from the mask of Omotari is tied to the wrist of this dancer.
Taishokuten-no-Mikoto North-East A female mask. A sash from the mask of Kunitokotachi is tied to the wrist of this dancer.
Otonobe-no-Mikoto West A male mask. A sash from the mask of Omotari is tied to the wrist of this dancer.
Izanagi-no-Mikoto Center* A male mask with a hexagonal headpiece.
Izanami-no-Mikoto Center* A female mask with a hexagonal headpiece.

The expression "Kagura Service" (Jpn: Kagura-zutome かぐらづとめ) comes from the fact that wearing the masks are a vital part of this ritual.

When the word "Tsutome" (Service) is used in Tenrikyo Scriptures and texts, it is generally considered to specifically refer to the Kagura Service.[citation needed] Scriptual expressions "Joyous Service", "Salvation Service", and "Service of the Kanrodai" are said to be variant expressions that refer to the same Kagura Service.

The Kagura Service is considered to be a reenactment of God's creation of human beings and its performance is believed to help manifest God's providence that was present at creation so it is directed for the purpose of human salvation. The Kagura is accompanied by the Songs for the Kagura. Section one (Ashiki o harōte) is repeated 21 times, section two (Choto hanashi) is performed once, and section three (Ichiretsu sumasu Kanrodai) is repeated in three sets of sevens for a total of 21 times.

The Kagura comprises one shift (the first of three) of the Tsutome. Service dancers and performers of the musical instruments (six men and three women for a total of nine) rotate or switch with others with each shift.

The Teodori is performed after the Kagura. The Teodori is danced by six other dancers—three men and three women—in a single line. Dancers wear a black crested kimono (montsuki). Unlike the Kagura, they do not wear masks. The Teodori is accompanied by sections four and five of the Mikagura-uta (better known, respectively, as the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs). Yorozuyo and Songs One to Six comprise the second shift of the Tsutome while Songs Seven to Twelve comprise the third and final shift.

Other forms of the Kagura Service

Among the forms of the Kagura Service that were taught by Oyasama, there are eleven that happen to be prayers performed for the purpose of specific blessings that have their own distinct Song for the Kagura and hand movements. That is, they are each different from the main form of the Kagura that is performed as the Kagura at Grand/Monthly Services at Church Headquarters.

Although Oyasama taught these eleven different Services, there are no records of several of them of ever being performed. While there are records of the Service of Rain being performed during Oyasama's lifetime[7], only the Service for Safe Childbirth and the Service for Germination are conducted at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters today.

Tsutome at regional churches

It is a convention in official English documents to refer to the "Tsutome" performed at regional churches as "services" (lower-case) in contrast to the "Services" (upper-case) conducted at Jiba or Tenrikyo Church Headquarters.[8] The performance of the Kagura is limited to Jiba and is not performed at regional churches due to two particular Osashizu that instructed that the implements representing human creation (understood to mean the masks of the Kagura Service) were not to be used anywhere but Jiba.[9]

The "seated service" is performed in place of the Kagura at regional churches with six dancers—three men, three women—a convention that is based on a passage from the Osashizu that goes, "The six fundamental [aspects represent] a single truth; this is where I begin [granting My] providence" (rokudai hitotsu no ri, sore yori ri o hajimeru).[10] While the Songs for the seated service are repeated 21 times for section one and performed once for section two like the Kagura at Church Headquarters, section three is repeated in three sets of threes for a total of nine times. The seated service is then followed by the Teodori. Church grand/monthly services are performed in the same three shifts in the same manner as they are done at Church Headquarters.

Daily tsutome

Morning and evening services are performed daily at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters and regional churches. These daily services mainly consists of the performance of the seated service. Unlike Monthly Services where positions for the dancers, nine instruments, and singers (three at Church Headquarters; regional churches vary between one to three) are set up, only five positions are set up: hyoshigi (wooden clappers), kazutori (counter), chanpon (cymbals), taiko (large drum), and surigane (gong).

Daily services at Church Headquarters are usually timed near sunup and sundown; they tend to change throughout the year by 15 or 30 minute increments on the 1st and 15th on each month.[11]

Other "tsutome"

On top of Services that are conducted regularly on a daily and monthly basis, the Tsutome can be also be performed as needed as a "prayer service" or "thanksgiving service." The forms which these services take differ according to the situation—they may be performed in the same way a monthly service is performed with a full set of dancers, instruments, and singers—or with just a few instruments (a service with two people at wooden clappers and counter and everyone else doing the seated service is a common form) or even on an individual basis.

Another common service is a yohaishiki ("service from afar") held on the 26th for followers who are unable to return to Jiba for Grand/Monthly Services at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. Finally, some services, such as those performed at regional Women's, Young Men's, and Boys and Girls conventions are referred to as "service practices (manabi)."

"Service" as a gloss for "matsuri"

It may also be useful to mention that "service" is often a gloss for (matsuri or sai, often rendered as "festival" in non-Tenrikyo literature) for terms that are not necessarily specifically referred to as "tsutome." To give examples:

  • chinza hokoku-sai = "enshrinement service"
  • seiritsu hokoku-sai = "service for the establishment of (a church, etc.)"
  • shunin hokoku-sai = "installation service" (of a church minister)
  • mitama-sai = "Memorial Service"
  • Oyasama go-tanjo-sai = "Oyasama Birth Celebration Service" (conducted only at Church Headquarters)
  • taisai/daisai = "grand service"
  • tsukinami-sai = "monthly service"

Oyasama is also said to have explained that a festival (matsuri) has the meaning of the principle (ri) of waiting (matsu).[12]

See also

Further reading

External links

(Note: pages nos. refer to hardcopy equivalent)

  • _________. "Salvation Service." Words of the Path, pp. 37–38.
  • _________. "Service practice." Words of the Path, pp. 42–43.
  • _________. "Tenrikyo Services." Words of the Path, pp. 188–191. *highly recommended reading


  1. The Doctrine of Tenrikyo (tenth edition), p. 18. (online version)
  2. Spahn, Mark and Hadamitzky, Wolfgang. Japanese Character Dictionary. Tokyo: Nichigai Associates, p. 299.
  3. Just one example is An Introduction to Otsutome: Daily Devotion of Jōdo Shū by Rev. Kenjo S. Urakami.
  4. Unless otherwise noted, subsequent text on this page is largely based on the entry 「おつとめ」 "o-tsutome," 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyō jiten, pp. 556–559. For English equivalent, see A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, pp. 375–382.
  5. Fukaya, Yoshikazu. Words of the Path: A Guide to Tenrikyo Terms and Expressions, p. 189.
  6. Information in this table from Tenrikyo: The Path to Joyousness, p. 151.
  7. One particular account is noted in The Life of Oyasama, pp. 187–192.
  8. Translation Handbook. Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department, p. 88.
  9. See Osashizu 1889-03-31-09:30 and Osashizu 1889-03-31.
  10. Previously unpublished translation of Osashizu 1889-05-25. Original can be found in 1:426.
  11. For a list of these times, see Yoboku's Guide to Tenrikyo, p. 83 or to the "International Web Site of Tenrikyo."
  12. Anecdotes of Oyasama 59.