The Ultimate Guide to Tenrikyo

What is Tenrikyo?

Where is Tenrikyo practiced?

And how many people follow this religion?

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We’re going to answer all of that plus much more in this guide. Keep reading if you want to learn more about Tenrikyo…

What is Tenrikyo?

Tenrikyo, also known as Tenriism is a growing religious faith in Japan. There are currently 1.75 million followers in Japan alone, with a total of about 2 million worldwide.

The religion follows the teachings of a woman named Nakayama Miki, also known as Oyasama, who is the founder of the religion and a 19th Century medium. 

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The teachings are believed to be direct revelations from God, known to followers as “God the Parent.”

The Tenriists, as they are called, call him this as they see him as the original parent of all humankind. He desires to save us all and give us a joyous life. 


The founder was a humble woman who decided to give away all her belongings in order to fall into poverty – this was about 1840.

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It’s shortly after this that the first official location for the religion is constructed – known as “The Place of Service.” Teachings began here promptly. 

Approximately 30 years after the construction of the first building, a church is planted in Taiwan – the first overseas church.

Tenrikyo history

It’s about ten years later that the church gains independence and is officially recognized. 

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It was in 1934 that the mission headquarters in America was established.

Over the next 70 years, many more overseas churches and mission centers are established, the most recent being in the Uk in the year 2000. This has effectively spread the religion all over the world. 


The Tenrikyo religion is a monotheistic religion and has several core beliefs that they strive to live by.

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Joyous Life

The joyous life is the main mandate of the religion. The “joyous” life is what they believe to be the original intention for mankind.

They live by this idea and serve and worship God the Parent who they believe provides a way for them to live life this way.  

The joyous life is one that is full of charity and free from greed, selfishness, hatred, arrogance, and anger.

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Negative actions and tendencies are known by Tennriists as “dust” that can be swept away through better mindsets and rituals. 


The religion’s founder wrote a text called “Ofudesaki: The Tip of the Writing Brush” and this is the primary spiritual text for the religion.

Followers believe that she would “take up her writing brush” when God the Parent spoke to her with a message for the people. 

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The text is written in 1711 parts that use “waka” verses. They are written in a syllable pattern, much like a haiku. The wakas are written in 5 lines that follow a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern.

Only two verses in the entire text do not follow this pattern. 


Hinikishin is an action one can take that is part of the general day-to-day practices of Tenrikyo. It is an act of selflessness and thankfulness that you can show towards other human brings. 

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This type of action is said to banish selfish thoughts while you celebrate the love of God the Parent. 

Tenrikyo and Hinikishin

Charity and kindness are at the heart of Tenrikyo and are still important now.

Followers have involved themselves in the development of many schools and orphanages throughout the years and this sense of giving has continued into modern times. 

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Those who follow the faith are generally encouraged to remain positive and optimistic when they face hard times. They strive to continue forward without complaining or falling into the judgment of others. 

Many share the general beliefs and thoughts of Buddhists and Christians. 


Beyond the core practices and beliefs of Tenriists, there are many aspects to their faith that they strive to live and walk with every day.

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Measure of Heaven

The measure of Heaven is a concept that allows people to stay humble and relate to others in the best way possible. It nurtures healthy, strong relationships that thrive and exist in harmony. 

The thought is this: most people are able to accept simple, undisputed truths like “there are people who are taller than me” or “some people will get better grades than me.” 

However, there are just as many ideas and “truths” that are much more complicated and open to measures interpretation.

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The danger here is that one can become self-opinionated and biased based on their own experiences, thoughts, and perspectives. 

It causes them to close their minds and not consider the measures of others.

The teachings of Tenrikyo suggest that the world works according to “the measure of heaven” which is actually immeasurable to us as humans. 

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This thought process keeps everyone humble and prevents arrogance. 

Working of Everliving Oyasama

This is the idea that there is always an invisible force at work, directing your life and creating encounters that are meant to benefit and help you. 

Tenrikyo and the Working of Everliving Oyasama

If you are going about your day and something happens that seems oddly coincidental or otherworldly, it is the workings of the everliving Oyasama.

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She is always there, watching over her followers, and showering them with her wonderful parental love. 

Faith in God

The Tenrikyo religion includes a call to maintain your faith in God. God worked hard to create everyone individually and he cherishes everyone as a dearly loved child. 

Tenrikyo and faith in God

He desires for his children to live with joy, happiness, and satisfaction. Part of following him is to believe this to be true and strive to achieve it.

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Everyone has bad days, but excessive complaining and dissatisfaction bring him sadness and heartbreak. 


Honesty is a simple concept, easily understood even by children. However, when examined more closely, it is, perhaps, one of the most important things to live by. 

Life can become stagnant and stifling when you tell a continuous lie. It gets in the way of progress, growth, and ultimately – happiness. 

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Life without any lies or untruths is liberating and peaceful. You can experience joy with nothing to hinder it and the desire for truth can bring great knowledge and understanding. 

All the Good

The founder of Tenrikyo, known as Oyasama, lived a life of great difficulty. She had few resources, often no food, and her friends and relatives did not understand her. 

She lost her husband as well as her children and would face constant harassment and persecution by the authorities. Things did not get better even as she grew older. 

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However, she always conducted herself with dignity and optimism. Followers must strive to live with this as their model, especially during hard times.

If she can remain put together and positive in such a hard, long-suffering situation, so can anyone survive whatever it is they’re going through. 

Seeing a Child’s Enjoyment

God desires to see His children enjoying their lives and experiencing joy. This cannot be done if one engages in poor behavior and makes poor decisions.

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This includes things like gambling, heavy drinking, illicit affairs, and even overeating. 

It is best to avoid these things. However, if you fall intro struggles with these, it is important you don’t put too much pressure on yourself for failing God.

It’s always possible to turn things around, but this won’t be possible if you’re stressing yourself out unnecessarily. 

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Hearts of Husband and Wife

Many believe that the meeting of your soulmate is put together specially for you by Oyasama herself.

She puts people together carefully, taking into consideration their personalities and characteristics.

Many believe that husbands and wives will thrive in their marriage when they have some differences.

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Those that are too similar will clash with each other and the negative traits will stand out and become more prominent. 

Long-Range Perspective

A long-range perspective is a concept of looking far into the future. 

When we are going through a tough time, we might look at the weeks and months ahead and wonder if the pain and turmoil will ever end.

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We may struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

However, Oyasama looks into our future twenty or thirty years. She sees how we get out of the situation, and she knows how things are to improve.

This is important to remember when you are in the throes of chaos. 

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In the end, everything is going to be alright, and your current troubles may just be a springboard into a new journey. 

Work With Sincerity

Oyasama appreciates and accepts sincere, hard, authentic work. Those who are sincere and have integrity will work even harder than is necessary.

They won’t cut corners or try to get away with slacking off. 

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They will put in extra effort, go the extra mile, do whatever they can to achieve the best results, every time.

This is the way to live. Being lazy and skirting responsibilities will only bode poorly for you in the long run. 

Confiding in Oyasama

Oyasama is always there to listen and comfort. There are times when the situation you are experiencing will be too much.

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It gets to a point where you can no longer handle it on your own. 

These are the times where it’s important to surrender yourself to Oyasama. Bow your head and tell her what is on your mind.

If you are still, quiet, and open, you may hear a small whisper guiding you in your next steps and offering comfort. 

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You can confide anything to Oyasama, at any time. There is no judgment and she will always hear you. 

In Accordance with God’s Intention

God’s intention is always best. However, humans are prone to forget this. 

Many people try to make their plans, and God watches from above as they try to achieve them.

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However, if the intentions are negative or based on selfish pride or revenge, He will obstruct the plans.

To allow them to go through would be to put his children in harm’s way. 

He will correct us and encourage the right course of action instead. Those who truly, at their core, desire to live in accordance with God’s intention will ultimately change course and do as He suggests.

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What are the Teachings of Tenrikyo?

There are several concrete, widespread teachings of Tenrikyo. 

At the heart of all these teachings is that God is the “Parent of all human beings.” Tenriists believe that God creates us all, and loves and treats us as his very own children. 

One of the core beliefs of the religion is that everyone should strive to help and benefit others at all costs. This not only ensures everyone is taken care of, but the action itself sweeps away the dust of the mind.

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This dust includes any thoughts or intentions that are in any way greedy, selfish, vengeful, or generally negative. 

They also teach that your body is not your own, but a gift from God the Parent. Because of this, you will enjoy blessings according to how you use your mind.

On the flip side, the negative use of the mind can result in negative and unfortunate circumstances.

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Therefore, it’s important to keep thoughts pure, good, and selfless. 

Lastly, the ultimate goal of Tenrikyo is to live in peace, harmony, bliss, and joy. This doesn’t come about by praying and acting selfishly. You will face troubles along the path of life.

These are used as periods of growth and self-reflection. This improves our character and brings us closer to alignment with God. 

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What is Tenrikyo?

Tenrikyo is a growing movement in Japan. It was founded in the 19th Century by the leader, Oyasama. 

It is slowly beginning to spread around the world, and it carries a series of beliefs and teaching that can align with that of Buddhism and Christianity.

Kindness, peace, joy, harmony, and faith are at the core of Tenrikyo. 

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Is Tenrikyo a Religion?

Yes, Tenrikyo is a religion. It has deep roots in faith and spirituality, with rituals and practices such as giving, prayer, and living in obedience and accordance with the intention and desires of God. 

It has a sacred text, penned by the founder who is believed to have been given revelation by God himself.

There are many churches and mission centers around the world that are in support of this religion and its practices. 

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How to Achieve a Joyous Life?

You can achieve a joyous life when you live with the wellbeing of others in mind. Life without lies and honest pursuit of the truth will produce joy.

The knowledge and faith in God and Oyasama bring peace and guidance, which will lead to joy. 

Be mindful of your thoughts and sweep away the dust of any ill-intention or negative thought. This is the way to a joyous life.

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