Oomoto (, ?moto, Great Source, or Great Origin) also known as Oomoto-kyo (, is a religion founded in 1892 by Deguchi Nao (1836-1918), often categorised as a ?moto-ky?)new Japanese religion originated from Shinto. The spiritual leaders of the movement have predominantly been women; however, Deguchi Onisabur? (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 Ayabe, Kyoto Prefecture, declared that she had a "spirit dream" at the Japanese 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 number of followers, she became a teacher of the Konk?ky? religion. In 1898 she met Ueda Kisabur? 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 Kisabur? married Nao's fifth daughter Sumi and adopted the name Deguchi Onisabur?. Omoto was thus established based on Nao's automatic writings (Ofudesaki) and Onisabur?'s spiritual techniques.
Since 1908 the group has taken diverse names -- Dai Nihon Sh?seikai, Taihonky? (1913) and K?d? ?moto (1916). Later the movement changed from K?d? ?moto ("great origin of the imperial way") to just ?moto ("great origin") and formed the Sh?wa Seinenkai in 1929 and the Sh?wa Shinseikai in 1934.
Asano Wasabur?, a teacher at Naval War College (, attracted various intellectuals and high-ranking military officials to the movement in 1916. By 1920 the group had their own newspaper, the Taish? nichinichi shinbun, and started to expand overseas. A great amount of its popularity derived from a method of inducing spirit possession called chinkon kishin, which was most widely practiced from 1919 to 1921. Following a police crackdown, Onisabur? banned chinkon kishin in 1923. Kaigun Daigakk?)[need quotation to verify]
The first "?moto incident" (?moto jiken), in 1921, was a government intervention. This was followed in 1935 by the "Second ?moto Incident", which left its headquarters destroyed and its leaders in captivity. The promotion of kokutai and the Imperial Way resulted in the sect being condemned for worshipping figures other than Amaterasu, which detracted from the figure of the emperor.
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 ?moto joined the World Federalist Movement and the world peace campaign. In 1952 the group returned to its older name, becoming the religious corporation ?moto under the Religious Corporations Law. At present time, the movement has its headquarters at Kyoto Prefecture and has a nominal membership of approximately 170,000. There is a temple for religious services in Ayabe, 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.
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.
From 1925 until 1933 Oomoto maintained a mission in Paris. From there, missionaries travelled throughout Europe, spreading the word that Onisaburo Deguchi was a Messiah or Maitreya, who would unify the world.
Omotokyo was strongly influenced by Konkokyo, Ko-Shint? (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, or even notable non-religious figures, 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 Oomoto affirmation of Zamenhof's godhood is stated, in Esperanto, as follows:
Translated into English, the foregoing reads:
...[T]he spirit of Zamenhof even now continues to act as a missionary of the angelic kingdom; therefore, his spirit was deified in the Senrei-sha shrine.
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 ?mikami, the divine ancestor of the imperial line, is what placed this religion in opposition to the government in pre-war Japan.