Konkōkyō (金光教 Konkō-kyō ) or just Konkō, is a new religion of Japanese origin also regarded as a type of Sectarian Shintō. It is a syncretic, henotheistic and pantheistic religion, which worships God under the name of Tenchi Kane No Kami, Ikigami Konkō Daijin, the Golden God of Heaven and Earth. Tenchi Kane No Kami is also referred to as Kami, or the Parent God.
Bunjirō Kawate (川手文治郎 Kawate Bunjirō , 1814–1883) founded Konkō-kyō in 1859. His childhood name was Genshichi, and he is also known as Akazawa Bunji. Born in the village of Urami in Bitchū Province (in present-day Asakuchi, Okayama Prefecture) as the second son of the Kandori farming family. At age twelve, he was adopted into the Kawate household of the neighboring village of Ōtani, at which time he took the name Bunjirō. He worked assiduously for the prosperity and welfare of his family, and though he gained the respect of those around him, his family suffered a series of accidental deaths during house construction, and he feared that the deaths were the work of an evil spirit called Konjin. Bunjirō himself suffered a severe illness at the age of forty-two (in 1855), but while receiving magico-religious healing rituals, he experienced the sensation of divine healing, a religious experience that deepened his faith.
Further, Bunjirō's younger brother by birth, Kandori Shige'emon, became a Konjin-cult medium and faith healer in 1857, and Bunjirō took that as his own impetus to devote himself to Konjin. While now understanding the reasons for the Konjin deity's violence, Bunjirō also experienced the deity's compassion and began expounding on that theme. In response to a revelation from Konjin, Bunjirō gave up farming and devoted himself to proselytizing on the twenty-first day of the tenth month of 1859. He stated that Konjin was not an evil kami but the deity Tenchikane no Kami, the "world's parent kami and savior of humankind." Before long, the number of his converts grew, centered on a group of disciples called the deyashiro.
After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, religious policies of the new government temporarily placed limits on the movement's proselytizing activities, but this provided an opportunity to develop the doctrinal aspects of Konkō faith in works such as the autobiographical Konkō Daijin oboegaki (Memoirs of Konkō Daijin). In his later years he compiled the Oshirasegoto oboechō (Record of Revelations). Konkō Daijin died October 10, 1883, at the age of seventy
In Konkokyo, everything is seen as being in profound interrelation with each other. God is not seen as distant or residing in heaven, but present within this world. The universe is perceived to be the body of the Parent God. Suffering is seen as being caused by individual disregard of the relationship between all things. Konkokyo's beliefs center around the betterment of human life in this world by gratitude, apologising, mutual help and prayer. In this way, everybody can join their hearts with God to become Ikigami, a living God. It is believed that after death, all beings return to God. The spirits of the deceased do not pass on to a heaven or a hell, but remain in this world, in unity with Tenchi Kane No Kami.
Konkō Daijin taught that one could receive the help of Konjin by "having faith in the kami out of a sincere mind" (jitsui teinei shinjin).
One of the characteristics of this religion is that its followers are not required to pay any dues nor to make any donations.
The following information is current as of December 1, 2012 (Kondō, 2013, p. 39)
- Churches (教会) 1,550
- Missions (布教所) 10
- Ministers (教師) 3,909
- Ministerʻs assistants/Deacons (補教) 1,855
There are about 450,000 adherents.
Through its various churches and missions Konkōkyō has a number of activities and organizations that help fulfill the necessities of modern day society: Konkōkyō Peach Activity Centery, Konkō Library, Konkō Church of Izuo Miyake Homes (India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), Yatsunami Foundation, Shinkō-kai Medical Foundation, Konkō Academy, Wakaba Orphanage, and Katsuragi Memorial Park (cemetery) (Takahashi, 1994).
Relationship to Shintō
As it was created based on Konjin, the itinerant kami of Onmyōdō (Yin-Yang divination), Konkokyo started deeply rooted in Shinto traditions. In order to survive the Meiji Restoration, Konkōkyō was classified and accepted the classification of Sectarian Shintō. This allowed Konkōkyō to continue its propagation without persecution from the government.
Unlike Tenrikyo, Konkokyo has never renounced this classification even after it was free to do so at the end of World War II. Today, Konkōkyō groups and followers rarely give much thought (if any) to Konkōkyō's technical status as a Sectarian Shinto Sect—indeed, many regard it more as an independent religion than a type of Shintō. However, the philosophy, practices, and beliefs of Konkōkyō are noticeably similar to modern Shrine Shinto; therefore, there are many Konko followers who consider themselves Shinto.
It should be noted that a number of churches have been making modern changes to their altars to segregate themselves from Shintō. Prayers were officially changed in 1980 from typical Shintō prayers--Amatsu Norito and Ōharai Kotoba--to Shinzen Haishi [Prayer to God], Reizen Haishi [Prayer to the Deceased], etc. Furthermore, Konkōkyō has centralized the Tenchi Kakitsuke [Universal Reminder] as its main focus on the altar and in prayers. However, there are many churches that still incorporate various Shintō prayers and rituals.
- Arai, K., Kawabata, Y., Matsumoto, S., Matsuno, J., Miyake, H., Suzuki, H., Tamaru, N., Tomikura, M., & Ueda, K. (1972). In I. Hori, F. Ikado, T. Wakimoto, & K. Yanagawa (Eds.), Japanese religion: A survey by the agency for cultural affairs. Tōkyō, Japan: Kodansha International.
- D.C. Holtom, Konko Kyo: A Modern Japanese Monotheism, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jul., 1933), pp. 279–300
- Fukushima, Shinkichi. (2006, Dec 16). Encyclopedia of Shintō-home: Modern sectarian groups: Konkōkyo. Kokugakuin University. Retrieved from http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.pho?entryID=612
- Inoue, Nobutaka. (2006). Shūkyō. [Religion] (19th ed.). Tōkyō, Japan: Natsume-sha.
- Inoue, Nobutaka. (2006, Dec. 16). Encyclopedia of Shintō-home: Modern sectarian groups: §Shintō-derived religions. Kokugakuin University. Retrieved from https://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.phoID=354
- J.M. Kitagawa, On Understanding Japanese Religion, Princeton University Press, 1992, ISBN 978-0-691-10229-0
- McFarland, H. N. (1967). The rush hour of the gods: A study of new religious movements in Japan. New York: The Macmillan Company.
- Kondō, Kaneo. (2013, January). Konkōkyō no genjo [Present situation of Konkōkyō]. Konkōkyōhō Ametsuchi, 2170, 39.
- Satō, Norio. (1983). Naiden. In Konkōkyō Honbu Kyōcho. Konkōkyō Kyōten [Teachings of Konkōkyō]. (pp. 890-917). Konkō-cho, Japan: Konkōkyō Honbu Kyōcho.
- Satō, Norio. (1993). Special stories: Naiden. Kyōten: Gorikai III [Teachings of Konkō Daijin Volume III]. Konkō-cho, Japan: Konkōkyō Headquarters.
- Takahashi, T. (1994, July 1). Konkōkyō facts. Handout of facts on Konkōkyō as of June, 1994, given to American exchange students from Kwansei University taking a course on Japanese religions, Ōsaka, Japan.
- Takahashi, T. (2011). Lessons learned after parting the Pacific: A phenomenological study on the experiences of American-born ministers in preparation for real-world ministry at the Konkōkyō Gakuin. Argosy University, Hawaiʻi.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Konkokyo.|
- Konkokyo's web site in English
- Konko Church of North America
- Konkōkyō Diocese of Brasil
- Graduate Program for American Studies at University of Hawaii at Manoa—Note that they are listed as a place to contact because they list a doctoral dissertation called "Konkokyo: A Japanese Religion in Hawai'i". Outside of that title there is no actual Konkokyo information on the site itself.
- Konkokyo at Religious Movements, University of Virginia