9. The Hesitant Blacksmith
When Sato suffered an illness following her miscarriage in the spring of 1864, Izo desperately sought help from various doctors and prayer-specialists. Although there is an account that claims that a fellow carpenter named Nagai told Izo about Oyasama’s growing local reputation as the “living god of safe childbirth,” it is often a “Kisaburo of Tsubao Village” who is given this credit.
Similarly, accounts differ on whether Izo had previously been to Shoyashiki Village. There is an account that claims that Izo had done carpentry jobs there from time to time and because the Kajimotos were the Iburis’ neighbors, Izo must have already heard about Oyasama since Haru Kajimoto was Her daughter. However, the general consensus is that Izo had never heard of Shoyashiki Village prior to Sato’s illness and that the Kajimotos never spoke of Oyasama in front of the Iburis.
When Izo came to the Residence for the first time to ask that Sato be cured, Kokan learned that Izo was from the Takashina area of Ichinomoto. Kokan then asked, “Do you know the blacksmith Sojiro Kajimoto?”
Izo replied that he did, but Kokan said nothing further, so he was left in suspense on why he was asked such a question. Later, after Sato was on her way to a recovery, Shuji revealed that the blacksmith Sojiro was his brother-in-law, married to his sister Haru.
Izo then complained to Sojiro, “You knew about our dire situation. Why didn’t you tell us about Oyasama at the time? She is your mother-in-law.”
Sojiro then explained, “If Oyasama was not family, we would have been more than happy to pass on the information. But being family makes the situation difficult….”
But Haru is known to have said, “You’re absolutely right. It was unfair of us to not tell you. But Mother says that we shouldn’t be the ones to tell everyone about Her. She says it is better for everyone to hear about Her from others. So please, don’t bear a grudge against us.”
It is not difficult to imagine she and Izo later looking each other in the eye and laughing after Haru said this.
(Adapted from Hitokoto-hanashi by Nakayama Shozen pp. 38, 40 and Ten no jogi, ed.by Tenrikyo Doyusha, pp. 38–39, 40–41)
- Next installment in this series: 10. Repaying an Old Debt to His Brother
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.