Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 262 – Their Eyes Were Watching the Gods, Part 1

This week, we tackled the origin of one of Japan’s new religious movements: Oomoto, or The Great Origin. Where did it come from, and how did the unique combination of two very different people with the right set of circumstances lead it to prominence?


Stalker, Nancy. Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburo, Omoto, and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan. 

Garon, Sheldon. Molding Japanese Minds

A publication on the life of Onisaburo by the modern day Omoto movement (Aizen’en)


Deguchi Onisaburo in his prime.

Deguchi Nao towards the end of her life. Being a religious visionary was hard on her.

Deguchi Onisaburo’s 1900 wedding to one of Nao’s daughters (Sumiko). From left to right: Sumiko, Nao, Onisaburo.

Like so much else, the Reikai Monogatari has officially been adapted into a Manga. I have not read it personally, but I have to admit I am curious.

One of Deguchi Onisaburo’s attempts at pottery. To be fair, I am not sure I could do better.

Large calligraphy work like this was a great vehicle for the kind of flamboyant performance artistry Onisaburo enjoyed.

Deguchi Onisaburo’s unique blend of nationalism and internationalism made for strange bedfellows. Even as he praised universalist ideas like the establishment of Esperanto, he was photographed with men like Toyama Mitsuru (center) and Uchida Ryohei (right), major figures in the early Japanese ultranationalist movement.


Episode 261 – The City that Never Sleeps, Part 4


Episode 263 – Their Eyes Were Watching the Gods, Part 2


  1. Avery

    Wow, it’s really cool that you are doing Oomoto! I am publishing an article on how Onisaburo outwitted the Japanese court system in 1920 and the social sources of the arguments he was making. Would be happy to send it if you like.

    • ijmeyer

      I’m more or less done with the research part and had to move on to other topics, but I’d still love to take a look if you’re willing to share!

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