Around the time when Oyasama withdrew from physical life in 1887, the government’s interference that Tenrikyo faced was so severe that followers could not establish churches. In the following year, 1888, they eventually obtained official approval for the establishment of a Church Headquarters in Tokyo and, soon after that, the headquarters was moved to Nara Prefecture, where Jiba is located. Since then, general churches have been established throughout Japan and in a number of overseas countries and regions. As of now, the total number of Tenrikyo churches is about 16,000.
Churches are referred to as “places that represent Jiba.” Bearing in mind that the intention of God the Parent and Oyasama is to save all human beings, missionaries have devoted themselves to the salvation of others at various places, which has led to the establishment of churches. In this respect, churches represent the fruits of sincerity in salvation work.
The classification of general churches has been modified slightly over time. Currently, there are “directly supervised churches,” which are under the direct supervision of Church Headquarters, and “subordinate churches,” which belong to one or another of the directly supervised churches.
Churches are also classified as “grand churches” or “branch churches.” Grand churches have roughly 50 or more subordinate churches. While all grand churches are directly supervised churches, there are many branch churches that are also under the direct supervision of Church Headquarters. Overseas churches—both directly supervised churches and subordinate churches—are called “churches” instead of “branch churches.”
The relationships among Tenrikyo churches are based on the direction in which the teachings spread, not necessarily reflecting geographical location. For instance, a grand church located in Osaka may have a subordinate church in Tokyo or Hokkaido.
A group comprising a directly supervised church and its subordinate churches is referred to as a “church lineage.” All followers have a church affiliation, and most belong to the lineage of a directly supervised church as well.
From Tenrikyo no kangaekata kurashikata published by Doyusha Publishing Company