日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

After the Earthquake ~ Baptized at 99


by Matsudaira Mine

Sendai Kita Church, Miyagi Prefecture


Born into “Hidden Christian” Community


I was born in the village of Oyama, now a part of Oshu City in Iwate Prefecture. It is said that the village was established by a Christian samurai from the Edo period named Goto Juan. I am amazed now when I think of this mysterious connection. From the time I was a small child, I was told over and over again how a deeply respected Christian had worked hard to make sure that all farmers had equal and adequate access to water for their rice paddies. Even now, we call the dams that he constructed for that purpose “Juan Seki (dams).”


During the period when Christians experienced persecution, the villagers hid behind a facade of Buddhism, and over time, even their faith itself became almost completely buried. As a child, my one faint memory is of five or six older people in the neighborhood gathered in front of the elementary school before school started; placing a white cloth on a child’s head, they said at the end of some prayers that they had offered, “This child has received God.” I am not sure even now whether I was witnessing a baptism or a confirmation.


Loss of Family Members; Others Led to Faith


My mother and father passed away when I was still young, but I felt an even deeper sadness when my younger brother died suddenly at the age of 15, just as he was preparing to enter a high school for training teachers*. I found myself all alone. I was miserable and would not accept words of comfort from anyone. Suffering a deep sense of loss, I returned to the nursing school I had been attending at the time. I was 19 years old.


I became a nurse, and one of the last things I did while I was still single was climb Mount Hayachine with a friend from the hospital. I picked Lilies of the Valley, and remembering my brother when he was alive, I offered the flowers in his memory. I felt like I had discovered heaven when I saw the Hayachine Usuyukisou (similar to eldelweiss) growing on the mountain. I will never forget their beauty.


While I was at nursing school, I met a person who admired Hani Motoko, the Christian founder of Jiyu Gakuen. Through her influence, I learned about daily life skills, home improvement ideas, and appropriate lifestyle. When I got married and had children (3 boys and 4 girls), I put those ideas to work in my life, using nutritious but reasonably priced materials to make snacks and recycling old clothing by making it into something different. Little by little, without even being fully aware of it, I was making Hani Motoko a part of my life, both materially and spiritually.


While we were evacuated from our town during World War II, I lost two children. My lively second son, Masaru, was in second grade when he went to gather mulberries near Kitakami River and drowned. I felt a deep emptiness in my soul. I thought my life was finished. And then, four-year-old Masashi died of illness. Hoping his cold body would come back to life, I held him in my arms all through the night until the next morning, my tears flowing constantly. But my wish did not come true.


My life was one painful experience after another. At a certain point, Millet’s painting, Angelus, became an altar for my heart. Whether my remaining children behaved well or not, I prayed together with them each day. Hope was resurrected, and my life changed so that I could once more pray for peace each evening. However, peace did not last long. At the age of 51, my husband collapsed at work with a stroke. He remained in critical condition, and I nursed him at home for 16 years, in accordance with his wishes, before he passed away.


How amazing! When I was 53, my daughter Fumie was led to faith in Christ through the Roman Catholic Church, and my grandchild also became a believer.


New Life after the Great East Japan Disaster


Two years ago, in March 2011, the great disaster occurred. It was a very difficult time, and we were told there was not enough food for everyone. All the sadness and pain I had experienced came back to me, and I thought, “Even if I live, I can never be of any use to anyone.” I overdosed on sleeping pills and tried to take my own life, but somehow my life was miraculously saved.


My heart and my body were so twisted and confused that when my daughter began to live with me after the earthquake, out of my own pain, I asked her again and again, as if blaming her, why she would not just let me die. Finally, my daughter could take it no longer, and with tears running down her face, she cried, “Okay, Mom. Why don’t we die together?” Hearing those words, I knew instantly, “I must live with all my strength. I do not want to die!” I raised my hands and screamed those words at her. We embraced and wept, and then we both laughed. That was when I knew that I must let God forgive my past and decided to live my life anew.


What a long road it has been for me. I feel now as if I had been knocking on God’s door for a hundred years. Along the way, I had turned away from God and walked the path of death, but God accepted everything about me. I am so thankful to the many people who prayed for me and supported me to get me to where I am now. (Tr. RW)

Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), October 2012 issue


*Such schools existed before World War II.

Editor's note: The author of this article turned 100 years old on Sept. 10, 2012, then died on Sept. 25, surrounded by her family.





まつだいら みね/宮城・仙台北教会員



【岩手県・小山村に生まれて】私は岩手県胆沢郡小山村 (現奥 州 市)に 生を受けました。この村は、江戸時代のキリシタン武士である後藤寿庵がつくったと言われています。今思えば不思議な縁に結ばれていたのだ ろうと思います、幼いころから、「農民の生活のために田畑に公平に水を分ける治水事業に尽くした偉いキリストの人がいた」と 何度 も教 わっ て育ちました(今日、「寿庵堰」と呼ばれています)。

【隠れたまま埋もれた信仰】しかしキリシタン迫害の中 で、村 人は 仏教 の下に隠れ、今は信仰も埋もれてしまいました。私の記憶にかすかに残っているのは、小学校入学前に近所の年配の方が五、六人集まってきて 頭に白い衣を被せられ、皆でお祈りした後に「この子は神さまをいただいた」と言われたことです(これがカトリックの洗礼だっ たの か堅 信礼 だったのかは定かではありません)。

【立ち上がれない悲しみ】その後父母と死別しましたが、 最も 深い 悲し みは師範学校志願直前の十五歳の弟が突然病死したことです。私は一人ぼっちになってしまいました。みじめで慰めの言葉も受け容れられず、 喪失感にさいなまれながら、通っていた看護学校に戻っていきました。十九歳のときです。

【早池峰登山で弟を偲ぶ】看護婦となり、独身最後に病院 の友 と早 池峰 登山。すずらん狩りをして在りし日の弟を偲び、花を捧げました。そのお花畑に天国のすばらしさを見つけました。早池峰うすゆき草の美しさ は忘れられません。

【自由学園・羽仁もと子を師とする人との出会い】看護学 校時 代、 学校 に羽仁もと子さんを尊敬する方がおられて、その方の影響で家庭生活の改善、生き方を学びました。それを後の結婚生活や子育て(三男四女) に生かし、安い材料で栄養のあるおやつを作ったり、古い着物を洗い張りしてねんねこや子供のセーターを編み直したりと、羽仁 もと 子さ んと 自由学園の教えを知らず知らずに物心両面で取り入れていました。

【疎開先での二人の子どもの死】戦争で疎開していたとき に二 人の 子ど もを失いました。一番やんちゃ盛りの次男優が小学校二年のときのこと、北上川に「くわごのみ」(桑の実)を取りに行くと言って出かけて溺 死したのです。私は魂の抜け殻のようになってしまいました。もう人生は終わりかと思いました。続いて四歳の公が病死しまし た。冷 たく なっ た小さな子を、もしや生き返るのではと思って朝まで泣きながら抱き続けましたが、かなわぬ望みでした。

【心の祭壇・ミレーの晩鐘】とにかく苦難の連続でした。 そん なと き、 ミレーの「晩鐘」という絵が私の心の祭壇となりました。残された子どもたち一人びとりと、良い子であったときも悪い子であったときも手を 合わせて祈るようになりました。そのおかげでやがて希望がよみがえり、夕べに平安を祈る生活が戻って来ました。

【夫の希望する介護を自宅で】しかしその平和も束の間、 今度 は夫 が五 十一歳のときに仕事先で脳梗塞に倒れて重体となってしまったのです。その後、家庭での十六年間の病床生活を経て亡くなりました。

【娘と孫が信仰に導かれる】なんと不思議なことでしょ う、そ の 間、私 が五十三歳のときに娘芙美恵がキリスト教(カトリック)に導かれ、孫も入信しました。



【東日本大震災で絶望、自ら死を願う】昨年の三月、大震 災が 起こ りま した。食べるものもないと言われて困窮しました。これまでの生活の悲しみや苦しみの記憶がどっと押し寄せ、「生きていても、もう人の役に 立つことはできないのだ」との思いにとらわれました。睡眠薬を大量に飲み、自殺をはかりました。でも奇跡的に命をとりとめま し た。

【洗礼志願、新しい生命を生きさせてください】とはい え、私 の心 と体 はちぐはぐで、震災後に同居するようになった娘に、苦し紛れに「どうしてあのまま死なせてくれなかったのか」と何度も何度も責めたので す。こんな私に思いあまった娘は、「じゃあお母さん、私も一緒に死のう」と泣きながら言いました。その言葉を聞いた途端、私 は全 身で 「生 きま~す。絶対に死にたくありませ~ん」と思わず手を高く上げて叫んでいました。娘と二人で抱きあって泣き、そして笑っていました。その 時です。過去のすべてのことを神さまに赦していただいて生き直してみようとの決心がついたのは。

なんと長い旅路だったのでしょうか。百年かかって神さま の門 を叩 き続 けてきた気がします。一時は死の道に迷った罪深い私ですが、神さまはすべてを受け入れてくださいました。



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