The Tenrikyo crest (kyo-mon 教紋) is a mon (crest) comprised of a five-petal plum blossom in a circle that is the closest Tenrikyo has to an equivalent to the cross in Christianity and the Star of David in Judaism.
The common explanation for its use as the official insignia of Tenrikyo stems from the fact the “plum blossom in circle” was traditionally the family crest of the Nakayamas. It is assumed the Nakayama family crest was adopted for this purpose because Oyasama was born with the soul of the "Mother" (Izanami-no-Mikoto) described in the Story of Creation in addition to the ideal of followers to become members of Oyasama’s family when they dedicated themselves to work at the Residence or a church.
Uses of the Tenrikyo crest
The Tenrikyo crest is displayed in the following ways:
- White crest in five places on a black service kimono
- White crest in two places on a black kyofuku robe
- Black crest on white background on paper lanterns at Church Headquarters
- White crest on purple background on Tenrikyo flags and maku (entrance curtains) displayed on Service days at Church Headquarters grounds as well as branch churches.
- On roof tiles
History of the crest in Tenrikyo
The use of the plum-blossom crest goes back to at least 1888, when Tenrikyo was legally recognized by the Japanese government as a religious organization. As Tenrikyo branch churches were established in various regions beginning in 1888 and 1889, the churches often asked to for permission to use the crest on their service kimono.
There are two passages from the Osashizu that mention the Tenrikyo crest. One from May 15, 1892, sought permission for the plum-blossom crest to be used as a decoration on the roof tiles of Kita Branch Church. Another is a Divine Direction from January 20, 1894, that instructs the crest to be used sparingly.
The plum-blossom crest was officially adopted as Tenrikyo's insignia in March 1941 with Articles 25 and 26 of The Constitution of Tenrikyo, which can be translated as:
- Article 25: "The insignia of Tenrikyo is to be called the kyo-mon and fixed according to the image appearing on the left." (Note: It is assumed there was an example in the original document).
- Article 26: "The kyo-mon will be utilized on kimono regulated by Tenrikyo as well as the Tenrikyo flag and flags used at churches."
Although these articles were taken out of The Constitution of Tenrikyo when it was reinstituted in December 1947, these regulations are still in effect today.
Osanae box (large)
Osanae box (small)
Crest on Surigane
Crest on Taiko
Crest on Misu (or "bamboo screen")
- "Ume-bachi" 梅鉢 which literally means “plum-pot” or “plum-basin”
- 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 288.
- 『改訂天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, p. 903–904. For English translation of this entry, see A Glossary of Tenrikyo Terms, p. 61.
- For instance, refer to Anecdotes of Oyasama 98.
- Osashizu 1892-05-15 Kita
- Osashizu 1894-01-20 Umebachi
- Here is the original text: （第25条）「本教ノ紋章ヲ教紋ト称シ左ノ如ク定ム」（第26条）「教紋ハ本教ノ服制ニ依ル服装の外教旗、教会旗其ノ他ニ之ヲ用フ」