Oyasama is associated with wearing red clothes (赤衣 akaki) as a visual symbol that she was the Shrine of Tsukihi. She occasionally bestowed sets of red clothes that she wore to followers as recognition of their dedication and devotion. Her red clothes were also cut up and sewn into Amulets.
The practice of making Oyasama's red clothes into Amulets continue to this day as a set of red kimono is ritually offered each morning at her altar in the Foundress' Sanctuary as a part of her お出まし o-demashi (literally “coming out” or “appearance”).
In 1874, Oyasama began “opening a broad path from the high mountains”. In concrete terms, she initiated it by sending Ichibei Matsuo and Gisaburo Nakata to Oyamato Shrine to inquire about the deities enshrined there in the 10th lunar month of that year. This event led to increased scrutiny of the Residence by religious and government authorities.
On December 23, 1874, Oyasama and a number of her followers were summoned to Yamamura Palace to undergo an interrogation. On December 25, Matsuo, Nakata, and Chusaku Tsuji were summoned by the Nara Chukyoin and pressured to stop their faith. Oyasama wore red clothes for the first time on the very next day, December 26. Anecdotes of Oyasama 35 describes the event in some detail. It is explained that Oyasama began wearing red kimono, including kimono undergarments down to her tabi socks to “clarify that She was the Shrine of Tsukihi.”
The following Ofudesaki verses are closely associated with her actions on December 26, 1874:
The practice of offering red kimono to the everliving Oyasama
Not long after Oyasama withdrew from physical life, the reserve of red kimono that were used to make Proof Amulets ran out, prompting followers to make an inquiry for Divine Directions in 1890, which went as follows:
As a result, the kimono offered each morning to the everliving Oyasama at the Foundress' Sanctuary is either unlined or lined and varies in thickness depending on the season.
Narratives of red clothes bestowals
The following selections from Anecdotes of Oyasama are narratives of Oyasama bestowing a set of red clothes to a number of her devoted followers. Some of these red clothes are currently used as symbols of worship in altar shrines dedicated to Oyasama at grand churches and followers dormitories.
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 51
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 91
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 121
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 126
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 136
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 149
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 186
- Anecdotes of Oyasama 200
- A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, pp. 313–4.
- The Life of Oyasama, pp. 85–93.
- Words of the Path, pp. 48–9.
- The Life of Oyasama, p. 93.