Tengai Morimo – a grain of rice (1)

Recently, the life of Tengai Morimo was introduced on the late-night NHK radio program. Eighty years after his death, his name has again become known throughout the country.

The real name of Tengai Morimo is Tsunetaro Mori (1864 – 1934). He was born four years before the start of the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) in Nishiyogo-mura (Yogo-cho, Matsuyama city) of Ehime prefecture as the eldest son of a village headman. Amid his story life, he lived for the sake of society and the people and fulfilled his destiny, and died at the age of seventy in 1934.

Tengai is a pen name that was given to him when he studied haiku poetry under Shiki Masaoka.

Tsunetaro Mori had lost his vision in both eyes during his life, and from that time on he went by the name “Tengai Morimo”

After completing his education at his local middle school, he went to Tokyo at the age of eighteen, and enrolled in a private school, “Dojinsha” in Koishikawa, which was run by Masanao Nakamura, who served principal of the Tokyo Women’s Normal School.

Masanao Nakamura had been sent by the Tokugawa federal government to England, and studied western thought there. He later became a professor at Tokyo University and he worked for the harmony of eastern and western thought. Tengai, who had studied at Dojinsha for four years, acquired a broad education, and he probably opened his eyes to the world.

In this connection, Shoin Yoshida, who was a leading player of the Meiji Restoration, had studied at a private school in Edo, which was presided over by Shozan Sakuma. “The Japanese people are the people of locality, the members of the nation of Japan, and  international people – awaken to the fact that they have these three characters.” Shozan Sakuma had always taught these to his students, In Japan, at the time, private schools were open here and there and international education was thriving.