Masa Nakayama Passes Away for Rebirth at 65

The former Shinbashira’s wife, Masa Nakayama, passed away for rebirth from liver failure on August 15 at 2:40 p.m. at the Shinbashira’s residence. She was 65. Mother of the present Shinbashira and president of Tenrikyo Women’s Association, she had undergone surgery in September last year but made a remarkably untroubled recovery, which had allowed her to participate in the performance of the New Year’s Day Service. She had since performed in each Main Service conducted—besides delivering a major address at the Women’s Association Convention in April. Following the June Monthly Service, however, she had not been well.

Born on April 6, 1936, as the first daughter of Rev. Tadatoshi Tosa, the fourth head minister of Muya Grand Church, she graduated from Tenri High School and attended Tenri University, majoring in religious studies. She received the truth of the Sazuke in February 1955 and married the former Shinbashira in February 1958. She was installed as the fifth president of Tenrikyo Women’s Association on January 27, 1963. She is survived by three sons, including the present Shinbashira, as well as three daughters.

Mrs. Nakayama’s passing was announced at 5:30 p.m. on August 15 by Director-in-Chief of Religious Affairs Tomoo Itakura to the resident staff of Church Headquarters and by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi to the staff of the administrative headquarters. Following the evening service on that day, about 500 Church Headquarters’ resident staff members, head ministers of directly supervised churches, and other followers came to express their condolences and pay their respects. Over the next two days, some 4,100 people visited the Shinbashira’s residence.

A ceremony for the transfer of Mrs. Nakayama’s soul was held at 8:00 p.m. on August 17 at the Shinbashira’s residence with an attendance of more than 5,000 people. The next day, a private family ceremony took place at 12:30 p.m. at the Shinbashira’s residence.

The final service for Mrs. Nakayama was held at noon on Friday, August 24, at Toyoda-yama Funeral Hall with Honbu-in Kunihiko Kajimoto presiding as chief officiant. It was preceded by a funeral cortege that departed from the Shinbashira’s residence at 11 :30 a.m. and traveled through the city to Toyoda-yama Funeral Hall, passing a number of buildings related in some way or another to Mrs. Nakayama, such as Tenri Kindergarten, Tenri High School’s girls dormitory, and the Women’s Association Headquarters. Great numbers of people lined the route of the cortege to pay tribute to her.

The cortege arrived at the funeral hall to the accompaniment of ceremonial gagaku music, and her photograph and remains were placed on the altar while all present stood in silence as a mark of respect. As the officiating ministers entered the hall, the service commenced. First, offerings of food were brought in, and then assistant officiant Matsutaro Komatsu offered prayers, in which he related remembrances of Mrs. Nakayama, stressing how she had always followed the path of single-hearted salvation in accord with the Divine Model while fulfilling her role as the “mother of the path.”

Chief officiant Kunihiko Kajimoto then said farewell prayers. He prayed for Mrs. Nakayama, who had returned to where God the Parent is, to be reborn even a day sooner in order that she might work for the path again. His prayers also indicated that her remains were to be laid to rest in Toyoda-sansha Columbarium.

Later, from among the over 500 condolatory telegrams received, a few were read aloud—notably one from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

This was followed by funeral orations delivered by Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi and by Committee Member Shigeko Tanaka of the Women’s Association Headquarters.

Praising the life and accomplishments of Mrs. Nakayama, Director-in-Chief Iburi said that what would be remembered by all followers was the way she had devoted herself so completely to following the Divine Model, thus taking the lead at the forefront of the path along with the Shinbashira, and the way she had served as the “foundation of the path” in her role as president of the Women’s Association, thereby showing a precious example for all women of the path. Director-in-Chief Iburi said that her character and behavior as she fulfilled her dual role as wife of the Shinbashira and president of the Women’s Association were a source of help and encouragement for countless people, enabling them to experience joy and elation in following the path. He paid special tribute to the sincere care and guidance she had shown to overseas followers, noting that she had traveled overseas for this purpose on as many as 21 occasions. In his conclusion, Director-in-Chief Iburi expressed deep gratitude to Mrs. Nakayama on behalf of all followers in attendance.

The offering of sacred branches, which followed shortly, was conducted both in the main hall and in the temporary funeral hall equipped with a large TV screen, especially set up for this occasion.

With the completion of all proceedings, a procession departed for Toyoda-sansha Columbarium shortly after 2 p.m., thus bringing to an end the service that was attended by some 20,000 people who had come to bid a final farewell to Mrs. Nakayama.

An enshrinement ceremony for Mrs. Nakayama was held on September 19 at the Memorial Hall of Church Headquarters, following a private memorial service.

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