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Home » 8. Schools, Groups, and Personalities » Personalities
Itō Rokurobei
(1829-94)
Founder of the new religion Maruyamakyō. Born on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of 1829 in Noborito Village, Tachibana District in the province of Musashi (present-day Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture). The second son of Kiyomiya Genroku, Rokurobei was adopted into the Itō family when he was twenty-four years of age and inherited the name Rokurobei when he succeeded to headship of that family. Religiously devout from an early age, he desired to revive the Maruyamakō (one of many confraternities dedicated to worship of Mount Fuji), to which the Kiyomiya family had traditionally belonged. While offering thanks to the kami for his wife's recovery from illness in 1870, he received a revelation informing him to "seek within yourself." He immediately began an ascetic fast, during which he was instructed by the voice of the kami to take on the title Chi no Kami Isshin Gyōja (Practitioner United in Mind with the Kami of the Earth); the following year he began proselytizing activities. Practicing a variety of severe ascetic techniques, Rokurobei soon became known as an ikigami, or "living kami." However, because he did not possess official registration as a National Preceptor (kyōdōshoku) (see taikyō senpu), the police restricted his activities. At that, Rokurobei followed the advice of Shishino Nakaba (1844-84), then chief priest (gūji) at the shrine Sengen Jinja, merging his group and its membership in 1875 with the Fuji Issan Kōsha confraternity (which in 1882 would become independent as the sect Fusōkyō). With this, he established the Maruyama Branch of the Association of Fuji Confraternities (Fuji Issan Kōsha Maruyama-kyō Honbu). Rokurobei continued the practice of severe austerities, and the number of his followers steadily increased. Upon Shishino's death, frictions between Maruyama-kyō and the other groups gathered under the auspices of Fusōkyō emerged, and eventually Maruyama-kyō seceded from Fusōkyō and transferred its membership to the umbrella organization Shintō Honkyoku (later to become Shintō Taikyō) in 1885. From 1887, Rokurobei collected a number of transcriptions of his oral teachings in a book entitled the Oshirabe. He died March 30, 1894, at the age of sixty-six. See also Maruyamakyō

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"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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