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Hand-drawn sketch of the Kanrodai in the Main Sanctuary by the late Rev. William Yoshioka.

The Kanrodai かんろだい refers to the physical marker of Jiba that also serves as a stand that followers use as a focal point to direct their prayers to God the Parent in the Main Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The stand is comprised of 13 hexagonal sections with varying dimensions placed atop one another.

According to Tenrikyo eschatology, it was believed that the kanro, literally “sweet dew” (usually glossed as "heavenly dew"), would fall on Jiba when the hearts of humankind had been sufficiently purified through the performance of the Service. It was believed that when barley flour was mixed with the heavenly dew collected from a flat vessel placed atop the Kanrodai, it would create a magical food that gave people the ability to live to the age of 115 and beyond without premature death, weakening from old age, and falling ill.[1]

Analysis of the word "Kanrodai"

Although it is a convention of sorts in Tenrikyo literature to write “Kanrodai” in hiragana, i.e., かんろだい[2], it occasionally is written with the kanji 甘露台, which literally means “sweet dew stand.” The Kanrodai is occasionally referred to as the “Stand for the Heavenly Dew” in English.

Dimensions of the Kanrodai

Sizes of the Kanrodai sections

The dimensions of the Kanrodai are detailed in several verses in the Ofudesaki. The Ofudesaki specifies that the base section be 3 shaku (90.91 cm or 2.983 ft.) in width, hexagonal in shape, and have a mortise at its center (Ofudesaki 09:047). The uppermost section is to be 2 shaku and 4 sun (72.73 cm or 2.2857 ft.) in width (Ofudesaki 09:059).

The Kanrodai at present consists of 13 hexagonal sections. In addition to the dimensions already described above, the base section and the section immediately above (i.e., the second section from the bottom) are to be 8 sun (24.24 cm or 9.544 in.) in height. The second section from the bottom is to have the same width as the uppermost or top section (2 shaku and 4 sun). The top section is to be 6 sun (18.18 cm or 7.158 in.) in height.

The remaining 10 pieces are to have the same dimensions: 6 sun in height and 1 shaku and 2 sun (36.36 cm or 1.193 ft.) wide.

Each section with the exception of the top section has a mortise 3 sun (9.091 cm or 3.579 in.) in diameter and 5 bu (1.515 cm or 0.5965 in.) in depth.[3] The corresponding section placed above has a tenon that connects at each mortise. Each section with the exception of the base section has this tenon.

It is presumed that the dimensions of sections that are not specifically given in the Ofudesaki were handed down orally from Oyasama to leading followers.

Dimensions of Kanrodai sections
section width width (metric) width (ft.) height height (metric) height (ft./in.)
first (from bottom) 3 shaku 90.91 cm 2.983 ft./35.79 in. 8 sun 24.24 cm 0.7954 ft./9.544 in.
second (from bottom) 2 shaku, 4 sun 72.73 cm 2.386 ft./28.63 in. 8 sun 24.24 cm 0.7954 ft./9.544 in.
third to 12th 1 shaku, 2 sun 36.36 cm 1.193 ft./14.32 in. 6 sun 18.18 cm 0.5965 ft./7.158 in.
uppermost or top 2 shaku, 4 sun 72.73 cm 2.386 ft./28.63 in. 6 sun 18.18 cm 0.5965 ft./7.158 in.
Total height: 8 shaku, 2 sun 248.5 cm 8.152 ft./97.83 in.

Numerological significance of the dimensions of Kanrodai sections

(Also see Truth of Origin and Tenrikyo numerology)

Tenrikyo theologian Tadamasa Fukaya has assigned the following meanings of the respective dimensions of the Kanrodai sections as follows[4]:

  • The measurement 1 shaku, 2 sun (or 12 sun) symbolizes the principle of “sufficient abundance” (jubun tappuri) as well as the 12 Chinese hours, the 12 months of the year, and the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac.
  • The measurement 2 shaku and 4 sun allegedly symbolizes the description of Izanami-no-Mikoto smiling upon seeing the first protohumans had grown to 4 sun in height and saying, “Now that they have grown so tall, in time they will reach the height of humans 5 shaku tall” before withdrawing from physical life. The measurement 2 shaku and 4 sun is equal to 24 sun, or 10+10+4, also symbolizes “overlapping happiness” (juju shiawase).
  • The measurement 3 shaku symbolizes how the first protohumans were conceived in three days and three nights. It also contains the symbolism of mi ni tsuku or the attainment of physical and spiritual nourishment.
  • The mortises/tenons measuring 3 sun in diameter and 5 bu in depth/height are said to symbolize the three-day, three-night conception at creation, that Izanami-no-Mikoto stayed at Jiba for three years and three nights after said conception, as well as the description of the first generation of protohumans growing from the height of 5 bu into 3 sun.
  • The hexagonal shape of the sections is said to symbolize the six fundamental aspects of God’s providence.
  • The measurement 6 sun symbolizes the principle of “peace settling” (rokku mutsumajii).
  • The total height of 8 shaku and 2 sun symbolizes the aspects of the providences represented by the eight directions and “complete adequacy” (jubun tappuri).
  • The ten sections that share the very same dimensions are said to symbolize the ten aspects of God’s providence and the principle of “sufficiency” (jubun).
  • The 13 sections of the Kanrodai symbolizes the principle of “sufficient attainment of nourishment” (jubun mi ni tsuku).

History of the Jiba-Kanrodai

Diagram comparing the model made by Izo Iburi in 1873 (left) and the Kanrodai's present dimensions (right)

Oyasama instructed Izo Iburi to make a model Kanrodai with in 1873. It is said that this prototype for the Kanrodai comprised of two hexagonal boards and a hexagonal pole. The boards were approximately 1 shaku and 2 sun wide and 3 sun thick. The pole was approximately 6 shaku in height and 3 sun thick.[5]

Being that the Kanrodai was to be the physical marker of Jiba, the spot of human creation according to Tenrikyo belief, the identification of the Jiba in 1875 proved to be a significant development. Not long after the location to put the Kanrodai was identified, the model Izo Iburi had built two years previously was set up there to pray for the recovery of Kokan Nakayama.

Construction of a stone Kanrodai began in 1881 but was halted after only making two sections, which were subsequently confiscated by the police in 1882.[6] Following this, the Jiba was marked by a pile of pebbles. It has been said that the pebbles helped relieve pain and illnesses when applied to ailing parts of the body.[7]

In 1888, a Kanrodai composed of two sections made from wooden boards was placed at the Jiba. In 1891, on the occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of Oyasama, leading followers requested to be allowed to move the Kanrodai in front of Oyasama’s Resting House so that they could perform the Service there. This resulted in the following Divine Direction: “The Kanrodai is the one thing which exists at no other place. You must not move it to any other ground” (Osashizu 1891-02-20 C).

With the construction of the South Worship Hall in 1934 that served to commemorate the so-called dual anniversaries, a version of the Kanrodai consisting of 13 sections was made and installed at Jiba for the first time. An altar shrine that was dedicated to God the Parent that had been set up in the Main Sanctuary until then was also removed.[8]

This Kanrodai was made from Japanese cypress and merely considered a “model” that has been periodically replaced on special occasions or after it was toppled by intruders.[9]

The Kanrodai was most recently replaced on July 24, 2000.[10]

Present Kanrodai as a "model"

Contrary to the instructions from Ofudesaki Part 09 for a flat vessel to be placed on the Kanrodai, the present Kanrodai has no flat vessel placed on top. The Kanrodai is also made of wood, not out of stone as instructed by Oyasama. The second Shinbashira Shozen Nakayama once explained that because the present version of the Kanrodai is made of wood and does not have a flat vessel placed on top of it, it is referred as a “model” (hinagata) Kanrodai.[11]

Appearances of “Kanrodai” in the Scriptures

Note: The terms shin no hashira (central pillar), hashira (pillar), and dai are also terms in the Ofudesaki used to refer to the Kanrodai.

Unorthodox understandings of “Kanrodai”

Tenri Kenkyukai/Honmichi

The first known unorthodox understanding of “Kanrodai” emerged with the founding of the Tenri Kenkyukai (Tenri Research Association) by Aijiro Onishi. Aijiro allegedly underwent a transformative religious experience in 1913. He subsequently claimed this experience helped establish him as the human Kanrodai or the vessel of God’s continued revelation. The term “Kanrodai” thereafter became one reserved for leaders of schismatic movements whose founders were former members of the Tenri Kenkyukai, which became Honmichi in 1950.[13]

Apostasy of Hideo Yashima

Hideo Yashima was a lecturer at Tenri University. Accounts differ over whether Yashima defected from the Tenrikyo organization or whether he was expelled.[14]

Yashima wrote a treatise entitled Nakayama Miki kenkyū nōto (Research notes on Miki Nakayama) in which he asserted that Oyasama’s teachings allowed the possibility of multiple Jibas to exist, and that Kanrodai pillars ought to be erected at each church.

Kanrodai stands built away from Jiba

Despite the February 20, 1891 Divine Direction instructing that the Kanrodai could not be moved to any other place but Jiba, various schismatic groups have built their versions of Kanrodai stands made of either wood or stone.

Those possessing wooden Kanrodais include churches influenced by the aforementioned Hideo Yashima and churches in South Korea. Groups with stone Kanrodais include Daidokyo (founded by Iwajiro Iida) and Honbushin (founded by Tama Onishi).

It is more than possible there may be more Kanrodais elsewhere; more research needs to be done on this phenomenon.


  1. 『増野鼓雪全集』 Masuno Kosetsu zenshū 21:140–146.
  2. “Kanrodai” is also alternately rendered in the Ofudesaki as: かんろふたい, かんろふだい, and かんろふ大.
  3. Reference Materials for The Life of Oyasama, pp. 37-39.
  4. 深谷忠政 Fukaya, Tadamasa. 『みかぐらうた講義』 Mikagura-uta kogi, pp. 33–35; Commentary on the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Tsutome, pp. 25–26.
  5. The Life of Oyasama, p. 81.
  6. See confiscation of the stone Kanrodai and The Life of Oyasama, pp. 171–172.
  7. The Life of Oyasama, pp. 173–174.
  8. 中山正善 Nakayama Shozen. 『続ひとことはなし・その二』 Zoku Hitokotohanashi sono ni, pp. 184–5.
  9. Refer to 『かんろだい物語』 Kanrodai monogatari (Tenrikyo Doyusha, ed. 1994) for more information on the history of the Kanrodai.
  10. "Ceremony to Replace the Kanrodai Conducted." Tenrikyo (newsletter) 373 (August 26, 2000), p. 2.
  11. 『続ひとことはなし・その二』 Zoku Hitokotohanashi sono ni, p. 267.
  12. 『おさしづ索引』 Osashizu sakuin (index) vol. 1, p. 514.
  13. 『新宗教辞典』 Shinshukyo jiten, pp. 68–74. See also Encyclopedia of Shinto: Honmichi
  14. 金子正 Kaneko Tadashi. 「ゆがめられたおやさまと教え」 “Yugamerareta Oyasama to oshie.” 『あらきとうりよう』 Arakitoryo 149 (Fall 1987), p. 282.