21. Izo’s Perseverance Working in the Fields
After Izo stopped working as a carpenter, he began to work in the fields. Despite the fact that he was unaccustomed to using a hoe, he worked alongside Shinnosuke Nakayama, the first Shinbashira, in doing physical labor and polishing rice grains. Although he was aware he was not good at farm work, he resolved to work at least half the amount of a typical farmer and worked no matter how hot or cold it was.
On one bitterly cold winter day, Izo was struck with a case of diarrhea. He had to go to the outhouse at least three to four times an hour. After seeing Izo run to the outhouse each time he took a swing with his hoe, an old lady who lived nearby said: “Izo, there’s no reason for you in your condition to work on such a cold day like today when even the most physically fit are resting. There’s always tomorrow, so you should rest today and soak in a nice warm medicine bath.”
But Izo could not bring himself to rest from work, for he felt it would be inexcusable on his part if he were to trouble Oyasama by resting and causing dissatisfaction to others. So Izo worked even when he was ill. The people in the neighborhood were impressed with his perseverance.
(From Shinpan Izo Iburi den pp. 83–84)
- Next installment in this series: 22. Hanging in a Basket
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.