13. Fire at the Iburi Residence
One night in 1866, a disaster occurred at the Iburi residence where Izo was born. A fire had broke out at a place that was not normally considered a fire hazard and the house completely burned to the ground. Izo was informed the next day of the news and promptly returned to Mukoji.
Upon arrival, Izo found his family and the neighbors deliberating on the cause of the fire. Izo sat silently in a corner and allowed the discussion to runs its course. Someone then suggested that the cause had to be arson.
Izo finally spoke out, saying: “Someone from this household must have done something to provoke the person to set the fire. I can only imagine that this happened because someone from this household was unkind to that person on a daily basis.”
After Izo made this remark, no one could offer any counterargument or insist otherwise. He began preparations to rebuild the next day and completed the job together with his brother Kumejiro.
Izo’s niece-in-law often said: “Our uncle from Ichinomoto is a good man. He is always nice to us whenever he comes to visit.”
But she also was known to have said: “It was just that one time when the house burned down. Uncle Izo scared us when he gave a good scolding.”
Even Izo, the successful self-made carpenter that he was, found his financial situation strained after helping his family rebuild during the six months after the fire.
Mukobuchi Bunkyokai, which was established in 1901, is located at the site of the house Izo helped rebuild.
(From Shinpan Izo Iburi den pp. 48–49 and Ten no jogi p. 33)
- Next installment in this series: 14. Foretelling a Sister’s Passing
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.