24. Oyasama’s Protection After the Service for Rain
Masanosuke Iburi once asked his grandmother Yoshie Nagao, daughter of Izo, the following question, “Please tell me about the time when the Service for Rain was conducted during Oyasama’s physical lifetime.”
And Yoshie explained the event as follows:
“It was in the summer of 1883, when I was 18. There was a great drought, so great that the wells of every household completely dried up and both humans and farm animals were being affected by it. The farmers were particularly in a desperate situation. Even though they usually never gave us the time of day, they sent the village head as their representative to ask if a prayer for rain could be conducted as a final resort.
(Note: It was a custom of the area to make many prayers to the deities of the local shrine.)
“When this request was brought before Oyasama, She immediately gave Her consent. When everyone else went on to make preparations, Oyasama took me aside and took off Her red kimono and gave them to me, saying,
Act as My representative.
“She also went on to say:
I shall lend My protection. Yet, no one knows who will be taken away. By all means, do not run or hide when this happens.
“The Service performers were all set and we began conducting the Service for Rain beginning at the southernmost part of Mishima-Shoyashiki Village and we made our way around the village domain.
“At first, there was not a cloud in the sky. When it was conducted a second time, clouds began to appear in the east. By the third time, it was raining cats and dogs. After the fourth and final time the Service was conducted, we all came back with our clothes dripping wet. We then went straight to the Jiba to offer our thanks.”
(It may be worthy to note that Izo was praying at the Jiba with Shinnosuke while the Service for Rain was being conducted and Yoshie performed the shamisen.)
“However, the police got word of what happened and came to the Residence and announced that everyone who took part in the Service was to be arrested. The strange thing was that I was the only one wearing a red kimono while everyone was wearing black, so I ought to have stood out among the others, yet the police did not seem to notice me at all.
“They took down the names of everyone else but they did not say a word to me. During that time I got a slight urge to use the toilet, so I immediately went to the one nearby. Although the police should have certainly seen me going up the stone steps, I went without being noticed. When I came out, everyone else had already been escorted out of the Residence gates to prison.
“I was all alone and I went straight to Oyasama to express my thanks. But everything happened exactly as Oyasama said it would happen.”
(Adapted from Iburi Masanosuke, “Nagao Yoshie sobo kojutsuki,” Fukugen 3, pp. 141–143 and The Life of Oyasama, p. 188)
- Next installment in this series: 25. Inquiry by the Meishin-gumi Confraternity to the Workplace
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.