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Mikagura-uta (Japanese).jpg
The Service
Sections One, Two, and Three
Songs for the Kagura
Section Four
Section Five
(Twelve Songs)
Song One
Song Two
Song Three
Song Four
Song Five
Song Six
Song Seven
Song Eight
Song Nine
Song Ten
Song Eleven
Song Twelve
Date Composed

Mikagura-uta みかぐらうた (The Songs for the Service) is the title of one of Tenrikyo's Three Scriptures. It is the lyrical accompaniment to the Tenrikyo Service. The Mikagura-uta was composed by Oyasama between 1866 and 1882 as the lyrical accompaniment to the Kagura Service and Teodori (Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and Twelve Songs).

Analysis of the title “Mikagura-uta”

To break up the title “Mikagura-uta” into its basic components:

  1. "Mi" is an honorific that represents the reverence Tenrikyo adherents have for this Scripture and the recognition that it was composed by Oyasama herself.
  2. "kagura" is a generic term for any performance of song and dance for a deity or deities in Japan. Although kagura are usually associated with Shinto shrines, there is also historical evidence of their association with Shugendo[1] and Buddhist schools such as Shingon.[2]
  3. "uta" means “song(s)”

It is a convention in Tenrikyo literature today to write “Mikagura-uta” in hiragana: i.e., みかぐらうた. The title of its Chinese translation is rendered in the following kanji characters: 神樂歌.

It is unknown when “Mikagura-uta” became the standardized title for this Scripture.[3] A survey of early informal publications between 1867 and 1887 reveal that a variety of names were used, with the most common being “Juni-kudari o-tsutome (no) uta” (literally, the Twelve Songs of the Service).[4]

The earliest evidence that the songs for the Service as composed by Oyasama were called the “Mikagura-uta” dates to October 1888, when it was first formally published by Tenrikyo, with the title written as “御かぐら歌.”[5]

However, it must be noted that since the kanji character 御 could potentially be read either as “O” and “On” in addition to “Mi,”[3] it still cannot be said for certain when “Mikagura-uta” became the standard title. Shozen Nakayama has noted that this Scripture has in the past been referred to as “Okagura-uta” (written in either hiragana or katakana).

The first time the title of the Mikagura-uta was published in hiragana as it is today was in 1928 when the Scripture was distributed to all churches in commemoration of Shozen Nakayama’s marriage.[6]

Mikagura-uta content

The Songs for the Service has been divided into five sections. This division is believed to have been introduced by Shozen Nakayama to establish a simple standard so that specific portions of the Mikagura-uta could be referred to with greater ease.[7]

Songs for the Kagura/Kagura Service

The same lyrics for the Songs for the Kagura are also used to accompany the seated service. The major difference between the Kagura Service and the seated service is that the Kagura is a standing dance only performed at Jiba and the ten dancers of the Kagura wear masks and other attire reserved only for the Kagura. (For more, see Service)

Further, Section Three is repeated in three sets of sevens (for a total of 21 times) in the Kagura Service whereas it is performed in three sets of threes (for a total of nine times) for the seated service.

Section One

"Ashiki o harōte tasuke tamae, Tenri-Ō-no-Mikoto (Sweep away evils, please save us, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto)"

Section Two

Choto hanashi… (Just a word…)”

Section Three

"Ashiki o harōte tasuke sekikomu, ichiretsu sumashite Kanrodai (Sweeping away evils, hasten to save us. All humankind equally purified, The Kanrodai)"


Section Four

Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo

Section Five (Twelve Songs)

Song One
Song Two
Song Three
Song Four
Song Five
Song Six
Song Seven
Song Eight
Song Nine
Song Ten
Song Eleven
Song Twelve

Composition of the Mikagura-uta

Before the Mikagura-uta was taught, it is said that the Service consisted the repeated chanting of "Namu, Tenri-O-no-Mikoto" to the beating of wooden clappers. The length of the Service was determined by burning a stick of incense.[8]

1866: Section One

Oyasama taught Section One (also now the first part of the seated service) not long after a group of yamabushi monks from the Fudoin Temple in Koizumi Village came to vent their frustrations at the Residence.[9] The composition of Section One also took place around the time when Shuji Nakayama began his efforts to gain legal recognition for Oyasama’s religious activities. The timing of these three events may not necessarily have been coincidental, as a number of commentators have noted an intimate connection between the developments.[10]

1867: Section Five

Oyasama taught the Twelve Songs, along with the accompanying movements of the hands and feet beginning in 1867. She continued to teach the Songs for the next three years.[11]

1870: Sections Two and Four

Oyasama taught Section Two (also the second part of the seated service) not long after Shuji and Matsue Kohigashi were married.

Oyasama also composed the song and choreographed the hand movements for the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo (Section Four) as a “prologue” to the Twelve Songs. The lyrics of Yorozuyo are partly lifted from the first eight verses of the Ofudesaki.

1875: Section Three

Oyasama taught this section (also the third part of the seated service) around the time when she identified the Jiba.

1882: Amendments to Sections One and Three

After the confiscation of the stone Kanrodai on May 12, Oyasama amended the lyrics “Ashiki harai” (Sweep away evils) from Sections One and Three so they are sung as “Ashiki o harōte” (Sweeping away evils) instead.

Section Three was further amended from “Ichiretsu sumasu Kanrodai” (The Kanrodai that purifies all humankind equally) into “Ichiretsu sumashite Kanrodai” (All humankind equally purified, The Kanrodai).

These amendments amount to grammatical changes that highlight how sweeping the heart was a prerequisite for salvation in the first instance and that the purification of the hearts/minds of humanity needed to take place before the Kanrodai could ultimately be set up as envisioned by Oyasama.[12]

Temporary deletions of certain portions of the Mikagura-uta

As a result of the Home Ministry Secret Directives in April 1896, Section One ceased to be performed at least until the years leading up to the so-called Dual Anniversaries (1936–1937).

Further, circa 1938, government officials pressed Tenrikyo leadership to change the verses containing terms they deemed problematic: "moto no kami" and "jitsu no kami" from Song Three and "moto no Jiba" from Song Five. The Tenrikyo leadership decided to cease performing the Songs altogether instead of revising Oyasama's original text. The Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo was also temporarily deleted from the Mikagura-uta. It was considered problematic in that it implicitly referred to the Story of Creation.[13]

These alterations to appease the Japanese government lasted until October 26, 1945, when the Kagura and the remainder of the Service Songs were performed as they were intended at the Autumn Grand Service.[14] The Service has since been performed in its entirety at every major Service at Church Headquarters since then.

Further reading

  • Fukaya, Tadamasa. 1978. A Commentary On The Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Tsutome. Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department.
  • Hashimoto, Taketo. "The Kagura Service—Its Structure and Meaning." Tenri Journal of Religion 15, pp. 31–44.
  • Horiuchi, Midori. "Mikagura-uta and Tenrikyo." Tenri Journal of Religion 34, pp. 1–12.
  • Kaneko, Tadashi. "The Ethical Meaning of Mikagura-uta." Tenri Journal of Religion 10, pp. 26–36.
  • Nakajima, Hideo. "The Basic Structure of the Idea of Salvation in Tenrikyo." Tenri Journal of Religion 7, pp. 46–50.
  • Sasaki, Louise W. "The Tenrikyo Sacred Dance—The Symbolic Use of Movement." Tenri Journal of Religion 14, pp. 29–64.
  • _________. The Tenrikyo Sacred Dance—The Song Text and Dance Movement (Tenri Journal of Religion 14 Supplement.)
  • Sato, Koji. "Salvation Through Tenrikyo's Service (Tsutome)." Tenri Journal of Religion 18, pp. 71–86.

External link

(Note: pages nos. refer to hardcopy equivalent)


  1. Averbuch, Irit. 2003. "Dancing the doctrine: honji suijaku thought in kagura." In Buddhas and kami in Japan: honji suijaku as a combinatory paradigm, pp. 313–332.
  2. Ambros, Barbara. 2008. Emplacing a pilgrimage: the Ōyama cult and regional religion in early modern Japan, p. 93.
  3. 3.0 3.1 天理教道友社編 Tenrikyo Doyusha, ed. 『みかぐらうたの世界をたずねて』 Mikagura-uta no sekai o tazunete (MNST), p. 38.
  4. MNST, pp. 34–35.
  5. 中山正善 Nakayama Shozen. 『続 ひとことはなし その二』 Zoku Hitokotohanashi sono ni (ZHSN), p. 89.
  6. MNST, p. 39.
  7. ZHSN, p. 2.
  8. The only known example of this is described in The Life of Oyasama (pp. 36–37)
  9. See The Life of Oyasama (p. 54) for an account of this event.
  10. Hatakama, Kazuhiro. "Society and Tenrikyo during the Meiji Period." Tenri Journal of Religion 30, p. ?; 矢持辰三 Yamochi Tatsuzo. 『稿本天理教教祖伝入門十講』 Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama-den nyumon jikko, pp. 175–176.
  11. See The Life of Oyasama (pp. 71–72) and Anecdotes of Oyasama 18 and 19 to read accounts describing how Oyasama taught the Twelve Songs.
  12. Lay Minister Preparatory Course Mikagura-uta Lecturer’s Reference Materials.
  13. 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 321.
  14. Fukaya, Yoshikazu. "Restoration (fukugen)." Words of the Path: A Guide to Tenrikyo Terms and Expressions, pp. 192–193.