Doctrines Tenrikyo means 'the religion of [the deity] Tenri-o-no-mikoto' and is based on the revelation of Tenri through the sect's foundress Nakayama, Miki (1798-1887). Tenrikyo incorporates a complex of folk-religious, shamanistic and Buddhist ideas. These include a dramatic creation story, the progressive reincarnation of individuals over many lifetimes governed by karmic causation and the idea of a universal parent-god from whom our bodies are on loan. Tenrikyo believers also expect an eschatological revelation which will take place at the centre of the world, located at the group's headquarters in Tenri city, and seek to remove by service and worship polluting 'dusts' and thereby release the inherent potential for a joyous life.

History Nakayama Miki was the wife of a poor peasant farmer. She underwent various hardships before at the age of 40 the deity Tenri-o-no-mikoto spoke through her and endowed her with healing and prophetic powers. Tenrikyo underwent persecution in the early years of the Meiji administration because as an independent pre-Meiji movement it had no tradition of devotion to the emperor and was independent in its outlook, governed by Miki's authoritative revelations. Following Miki's death, Iburi Izo (1833-1907) took over leadership of the movement. Through accommodation to the requirements of the authorities the teachings of Tenriky were brought into line with state Shinto and the movement was finally recognised as a Shinto sect in 1908. After Miki, the role of shin-bashira or 'true pillar', the head of the movement has been handed down through the male line of the Nakayama family. Tenri is the largest of the 'old' (19th century) new religions. It has had considerable missionary success overseas, mainly among emigrant Japanese. Over the years Tenrikyo has engaged in an ambitious construction programme at its Tenri headquarters with the intention of completely surrounding the jiba (the central place of revelation) with grand buildings to house and teach devotees, in accordance with Miki's prophecies. Since the 1970's Tenrikyo has progressively distanced itself from mainstream Shinto and no longer regards itself as a Shinto sect.

Symbols The complex of great buildings at the centre of Tenri city itself comprise the main symbol of the Tenri faith, since this spot, known as jiba, is believed to be the centre of the world, where creation began and will end, and where Miki received the revelation of Tenri-o-no-mikoto. At the centre of the main temple building is the kanrodai, a pillar-like structure designed to receive blessings and a sunken arena in which the mysterious Tenrikyo creation story is enacted by performers in animal masks in a musical dance-rite called mi-kagura-uta.

Adherents Tenrikyo is estimated to have 2-3 million members, in around 15,000 churches and 20,000 missions throughout the world. (Various sources)

Main Centre
 Tenrikyo HQ, Tenri City, Nara ken