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Deguchi Onisaburo
Oomoto (大本 Ōmoto, literally "foundation"), also known as Oomoto-kyo (大本教 Ōmoto-kyō), is a Japanese religion, often categorised as a new Japanese religion originated from Shinto. Deguchi Nao (1836–1918) was its kaiso (original founder) in 1892. The spiritual leaders of the movement have predominantly been women; however, Deguchi Onisaburō (1871–1948) has been considered an important figure in Omoto as a seishi (spiritual teacher). Since 2001, the movement has been guided by its fifth leader, Kurenai Deguchi.


Deguchi Nao, a housewife from the tiny town of Ayabemarker in Kyoto Prefecturemarker, declared that she had a "spirit dream" at the lunar New Year in 1892, becoming possessed (kamigakari) by Ushitora no Konjin and starting to transmit his words. According to the official Oomoto biography of Deguchi, she came from a family which had long been in poverty, and had pawned nearly all of her possessions to feed her children and invalid husband. Deguchi was certainly not an otherwise famous figure and independent accounts of her do not exist. After 1895, and with a growing quantity of followers, she became a teacher of the Konkōkyō religion. In 1898 she met Ueda Kisaburō who had previous studies in kamigakari (spirit possession) and in 1899 they established the Kinmeikai which became the Kinmei Reigakkai later in the same year. In 1900 Kisaburō married Nao’s fifth daughter Sumi and adopted the name Deguchi Onisaburō. Omoto was thus established based on Nao's automatic writings (Ofudesaki) and Onisaburō’s spiritual techniques.

Since 1908 the group has taken diverse names, Dai Nihon Shūseikai, Taihonkyō (1913) and Kōdō Ōmoto (1916). Later the movement changed from Kōdō Ōmoto ("great origin of the imperial way") to just Ōmoto ("great origin") and formed the Shōwa Seinenkai in 1929 and the Shōwa Shinseikai in 1934.

Asano Wasaburō, a teacher at Japan’s Naval College, attracted various intellectuals and high-ranking military officials to the movement in 1916. By 1920 the group had their own newspaper, the Taishō nichinichi shinbun, and started to expand overseas.

The first "Omoto incident" (Ōmoto jiken), in 1921, was a government intervention followed in 1935 by the "Second Ōmoto Incident". The 1935 incident left its headquarters destroyed and its leaders in captivity.

After World War II, the organization reappeared as Aizen’en, a movement dedicated to achieve world peace, and with that purpose it was registered in 1946 under the Religious Corporations Ordinance.

In 1949 Ōmoto joined the World Federalist Movement and the world peace campaign. In 1952 the group returned to its older name, becoming the religious corporation Ōmoto under the Religious Corporations Law. At present time, the movement has its headquarters at Kyoto Prefecturemarker and has a nominal membership of approximately 170,000. There is a temple for religious services in Ayabemarker, and a mission in a large park on the former site of Kameoka Castle that includes offices, schools, a publishing house, and shrines in Kameoka.

International activities

Since the time of Onisaburo Deguchi, the constructed language Esperanto has played a major role in the Oomoto religion. Starting in 1924, the religion has published books and magazines in Esperanto and this continues today. Almost all of the 45,000 active members of Oomoto have studied some Esperanto, and around 1,000 are fluent in the language.

From 1925 until 1933 Oomoto maintained a mission in Parismarker. From there, missionaries travelled throughout Europe, spreading the word that Onisaburo Deguchi was a Messiah or Maitreya, who would unify the world.

For several years an Oomoto office and temple has been open in the capital of Brazilmarker, Brasiliamarker. The local Esperanto speakers have assisted considerably.


Omotokyo, was strongly influenced by Konkokyo, Ko-shinto (ancient Shinto) and folk spiritual and divination traditions; it also integrated Kokugaku (National Studies) teachings and modern ideas on world harmony and peace, creating a new doctrine. It shares with Konkokyo the belief in the benevolence of Konjin, who was previously considered an evil kami, and shares with other ancient Shinto schools the teachings that proclaim the achievement of personal virtue as a step to universal harmony.

Members of Oomoto believe in several kami. The most important are Ookunitokotachi, Ushitora Konjin and Hitsujisaru. Oomoto members also tend to recognize notable religious figures from other religions as kami - for example, the creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof is revered as a god. However, all of these kami are believed to be aspects of a single God concept.

The belief that two kami, Kunitokodachi no Mikoto and Susano-o no Mikoto, were the original founders and rulers of Japan, who were driven away by Amaterasu Ōmikami, the divine ancestor of the imperial line, is what placed this religion in opposition to the government in pre-war Japan.

Known followers

References and further reading

  • Emily Groszos Ooms, Women and Millenarian Protest in Meiji Japan: Deguchi Nao and Omotokyo, Cornell Univ East Asia Program, 1993, ISBN 978-0939657612
  • The Great Onisaburo Deguchi, by Kyotaro Deguchi, translated by Charles Rowe, ISBN 4-900586-54-4
  • Iwao, Hino. The Outline of Oomoto. Kameoka, Japan, 1968.
  • Murakami Shigeyoshi. Japanese Religion in the Modern Century. Translated by H. Byron Earhart. Tokyo, 1980. Originally published as Kindai hyakunen no shukyo. ISBN 978-0860082606
  • Yasumaru Yoshio. Deguchi Nao Tokyo, 1977.

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