101. Do Not Stop on the Way
“This time, it is a test. When you come back to Jiba after childbirth, do not stop at Mamekoshi (where Koiso’s parents, the Yamanakas, lived), or at any other place. Come straight to this place. This is the true parental home.”
At eight in the morning of May 10th, while the rest of the family were out in the fields, Koiso suddenly felt labor pains. It was so sudden that she only had time to take off her apron and place it on the tatami-mat to lie upon as she gave birth to a chubby girl. It was a wondrously easy and clean delivery followed only by the afterbirth. When the family returned home for lunch, the baby, newly-clothed, was already in bed.
The husband and wife, as instructed by Oyasama, returned straight to Jiba two days after the childbirth. It had rained heavily the day before and the roads were still muddy. Her husband, Ihachiro, carried the baby in his arms and Koiso wore rain clogs. They passed by Mamekoshi but did not stop even at her parents’ home. Although they walked more than twelve kilometers, Koiso had no discharge nor any other physical suffering. It was a marvelous pilgrimage without mishap.
Waiting for them, Oyasama said:
“It is time for Koiso to arrive.”
She was so pleased to see them that She personally held the baby in Her arms, saying:
“I will name her.”
“As this baby grows up, the path shall prosper, and keep on prospering forever. Thus with the meaning of prosperity for eternity I will name her Ikue.*”
And so the baby was named Ikue.
*’Iku‘ from ‘ikusue‘ meaning ‘eternity,’ and ‘e‘ from ‘ei‘ meaning ‘prosperity.’
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 85–86
Translation of “Sawa’s note”
“Ihachiro Yamada [was responsible for] the beginning of Shikishima Daikyokai.”
My research / take
Anecdotes 101 picks up from Anecdotes 84, a story that describes the marriage between Koiso Yamanaka (1851–1928) and Ihachiro Yamada (1848–1916). A reference source I’ve come across since covering Anecdotes 84 notes that the Yamada family and many others in the surrounding area in Deyashiki Village were fervent devotees of Kobo Daishi.
Yet despite the faith his family adhered to, Ihachiro came to admire Oyasama and her teachings very much and often visited Jiba with Koiso. Ihachiro compiled much of what he heard from Oyasama in a series of manuscripts.
In addition to the narrative of an amazingly easy childbirth (once later described by Koiso as “an effortless birth like how a chicken lays an egg”), what really gets the reader’s attention is how the new parents traveled on muddy roads on foot for 12 kilometers to return to the Residence just as Oyasama asked them to just two days after their daughter was born.
I’ve lived much closer to Jiba than 12 km when each of my two kids were born but even after they were discharged from Ikoi-no-Ie Hospital (it was more than two days after the birth on both occasions and the hospital is well within walking distance to the Main Sanctuary), my wife and I waited a few weeks before taking each of them for their first visit to the Main Sanctuary and Oyasama’s Sanctuary. The kind of faith that Ihachiro and Koiso demonstrate is certainly difficult to imagine, not to mention emulate.
Tadakazu Yamada sensei, a fourth-generation descendant of Ihachiro and Koiso, has written:
Oyasama had said, “This time, it is a test” and Ihachiro and Koiso had completely entrusted themselves to these words and were assuredly shown God’s protection.
At the same time, this “test of safe childbirth” can also be considered Oyasama’s test of their single-hearted devotion to God. Further, one can come away with the insight that the words “true parental home” (honto no Oyasato) teaches us of their single-hearted devotion to Jiba that never changed for the rest of their lives.
- Yamada Tadakazu. 2010.”Itsuwa no kokoro tazunete: gendai ni ikiru Oyasama no oshie 19.” Tenri jihō No. 4175 (April 11, 2010), p. 3.