Kooky cultists' condom controversy explodes into deadly discipline

Mainichi, Japan/October 26, 2007

At first glance, the case of sushi restaurant owner Motoko Okuno's death seemed a fairly straightforward, if cruel, outcome of a family going too far. As investigators scratched the surface, though, they found themselves dealing with a mystical cult and that the death had been inspired by a condom, according to Shukan Josei.

Sexagenarian Okuno's 35-year-old husband, Kazuhiro, her daughters, Kuriko and Michiko Mori, and Michiko's husband, Yuji Ike, were arrested for allegedly beating the old woman to death inside her sushi restaurant in the sleepy Nagano Prefecture town of Komoro and all four took the rap for her demise.

"But it turned out the truth of her death was considerably different. Okuno had died inside facilities belonging to the cult called Kigenkai and the four suspects had worked together to cover that up. They were all Kigenkai cultists, and so was the victim," a reporter for a Nagano newspaper tells Shukan Josei.

Okuno's beating apparently stemmed from one of the cult's regular "reflection gatherings," where cultists started criticizing Michiko Mori and Yuji Ike over their lax lifestyle.

"That led to (Michiko's mother) Okuno being called before the group. The cultists accused her of having a bad attitude and 21 female followers spent about one hour beating her, after which time she was dead," the reporter says.

Among the cultists alleged to have unleashing the beating on Okuno were four teenagers -- two of them still attending junior high school -- a woman in her 60s, another 70-something and even an octogenarian. All have been arrested for inflicting bodily injury resulting in death.

"Most of the beating had focused on the arms and between the legs, so the corpse was in an awful state," a police source tells the women's weekly. "An autopsy revealed she had been beaten severely over her entire body, bringing about shock that caused her death."

Kigenkai enforcer Yasuko Kubota has also been arrested for allegedly ordering the cultists to bash Okuno. A former classmate is shocked.

"I can't believe that quiet and gentle Yasuko could possibly have ordered a deadly gang attack," the classmate says.Kigenkai has its roots in Yasuko's father, Kensuke Matsui, who started the Shinto-influenced Yamato Shrine in 1970. He claimed to have been visited by the gods and his reputation grew after a few hospital patients claimed he had healed them of their ailments. One-time street side vendor Matsui and his ex-hostess second wife moved back to her hometown of Komoro and ran the shrine. The couple had a daughter, Isuzu, to go with the four kids from Matsui's first marriage, including suspected ringleader Kubota.

Not long after setting up in Nagano, Kigenkai began selling Kigensui, a water the cult claimed possessed magical healing qualities.

"They started selling it in 1.8 liter bottles for 2,000 yen, but were soon packing it in black lacquered boxes and charging 60,000 yen apiece and it sold like crazy," a former Kigenkai member tells Shukan Josei. "Sales of the water led to the creation of branches across Japan and membership of the cult swelled into the thousands."

And Kigenkai members weren't scared to flaunt their wealth and prominent standing in Komoro society.

"(Cult leader) Isuzu Matsui was incredible when there was a big festival on. She'd get decked out in these flowing white dresses and wear a jeweled tiara worth 10 million yen," a Komoro resident says. "There'd be loads of people lining the streets and waving flags as they greeted her. It was as if a member of the Imperial Family was paying a visit."

Kubota, who had originally lived in the capital and sold the cult's cosmetics and other merchandise, had returned to the fold following her father's death five years ago to help run the cult with its new leader, Isuzu Matsui, who was then still in her 20s.

Kubota initially denied ordering the attack on Okuno, but has since started to admit her involvement, the weekly says.

Okuno's death, meanwhile, brings down a curtain on a checkered life dyed deep with her involvement in the cult.

"She was rumored to have been guru Matsui's lover while she was living in Kyoto. She split from her first husband and fled Kyoto with her second husband. They came to Komoro and set up the sushi restaurant, apparently with help from the guru," a former Kigenkai cultist says. "When the second husband died, she married Kazuhiro even though he was almost 30 years younger than her, and took him on as her main sushi chef. I think that marriage was on orders from the cult. But I wouldn't be surprised if she was killed because of past jealousies about her having been the guru's lover."

That may well have been the case, but there's also a tragic irony behind the arrest of Okuno's offspring -- who are still accused of involvement in her death and of trying to cover up the cultists' alleged part in the act -- in that the bashing began because of a spat over birth control.

"A few years ago, (Okuno's daughter) Michiko gave some condoms to Kubota's daughter, who was then still only in her early teens," the local reporter tells Shukan Josei. "Talk of that incident was brought up again and led to the criticism of Michiko and Ike's lifestyle."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.