Oomoto (大本, literally "foundation"), also known as Omoto-kyo (大本教) is a Japanese religion, often categorized as an offshoot of Shinto. The religion was founded, in 1892, by Nao Deguchi . The spiritual leaders of the movement have always been women. Since 2001, the movement has been guided by its fifth leader, Kurenai Deguchi .
Since the time of its second spiritual leader, 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. Almost all of the 45,000 active members of Oomoto have studied some Esperanto, and around 1,000 are fluent in the language.
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. From 1935 to 1942 the movement experienced severe persecutions in Japan and did not have the right to act, but by 1950 the movement had regrouped.
Oomoto has two major centers near Kyoto. In Ajabe there is a temple for religious services, and in Kameoka is a mission in a large park that includes offices, schools, a publishing house, and shrines.
Art has a important role in Oomoto. The members wish to beautify the world by art, and believe that art brings humans closer to the divine,
Members of Oomoto believe in several gods. The most important are Ookunitokotachi , Ushitora , and Hitsujisaru , but also the creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof is considered a god. However, all of these gods, including Zamenhof, are believed to be aspects of a single Master God.
The Oomoto members also tend to recognize notable religious figures, from other religions, as kami.
One of the more well-known followers of Oomoto is Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art Aikido. It is commonly thought that Ueshiba's increasing attachment to pacifism in later years and belief that Aikido should be an "art of peace" were inspired by his involvement with the sect. Oomoto priests oversee a ceremony in Ueshiba's honor every April 29th at the Aiki Shrine at Iwama.
- Bankyo Dokon - Seventy Years of Inter-Religious Activity at Oomoto, Oomoto Foundation , 1997
- Nao Deguchi - A Biography of the Foundress of Oomoto, Based on Kaiso-den by Sakae Ôishi, translated by Charles Rowe and Yasuko Matsudaira, Oomoto Foundation, 1982
- The Great Onisaburo Deguchi, by Kyotaro Deguchi, translated by Charles Rowe, ISBN 4-900586-54-4
- Nordenstorm, L. Ômotos mission på esperanto. En japansk ny religion i förändring
från kiliastisk Maitreyaförväntan till religionsdialog. (The Ômoto-Mission
in Esperanto. A Japanese new religion changing from chiliastic Ma-itreya-
awaiting to religious dialogue.) Esperantoförlaget/Eldona Societo
Esperanto. Stockholm, 2002. In Swedish with summaries in English and in Esperanto. In internet: http://www.diva-portal.org/diva/getDocument?urn_nbn_se_uu_diva-1932-1__fulltext.pdf