Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 114

114. You Went Through Much Difficulty (Japanese title: yō kurō-shite kita)

One day, Tokichi Izumita was held up by three highwaymen on the Jusan Pass. At that time the teaching, “A thing lent, a thing borrowed,” which he had often been taught, flashed across his mind. So he obediently took off his coat, kimono, and everything just as he was told. Putting his wallet on top of his clothes, he knelt and bowed respectfully before them. “Please take them all,” he said. When he raised his head, the three highwaymen were gone. They must have felt uneasy because he was too obedient, and they left without taking one single thing.

Izumita then put his clothes back on and continued to Jiba. When he was granted an audience with Oyasama, She said:

“You went through much difficulty. Because you have achieved harmony in the family, I grant you the Sazuke of Ashiki-harai. Receive it.”

This was how Tokichi was granted the sazuke.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 95

Supplemental information from Taimo
“Izumita Tokichi: Born in Tenpo 11 (1840) in Oimazato Village, Higashinari County, Osaka (presently Oimazato, Higashinari Ward, Osaka City).

“In 1871, he made his first return pilgrimage to Jiba. In 1877, he was blessed with a recovery from stomach cancer and exclusively dedicated himself to missionary work. He helped guide many people, including Komatsu Komakichi (founder of Mitsu), Ibaraki Motoyoshi (founder of Kita), Terada Hanbei (founder of Amijima), and Nakanishi Kinjiro (founder of Oe).

“In 1890, he began missionary work in the Nakatsu area of Kyushu. He establishes a kyokai in 1893 (presently known as Nakatsu Daikyokai).

“He passed away for rebirth in 1904 at the age of 65.”

My research / take
Anecdotes no. 114 is a rare account that describes Oyasama bestowing the sacrament of the Sazuke to a follower post-1874. (no. 83 is the only other selection from Anecdotes that describes such a Sazuke bestowal.)

Again, Sato Koji sensei’s Omichi no joshiki was integral in making me realize that the English translation for the phrase “achieved harmony in the family” (uchiuchi ori-ota) is, in all likelihood, inaccurate. The problem lies in how to interpret “uchiuchi“: it merely means “within” and also “private/informal” in modern usage, but does imply “family” in some contexts. However, I am persuaded this latter interpretation is inaccurate in this particular context.

To elaborate, in my reading, Izumita Tokichi’s family is barely mentioned. According to Takano Tomoji sensei, he did not know the names of his parents and was raised an orphan. He was a drunkard and “lived an unsettled, vagabond life” until he came across the teachings. It is said he married a widow and lived with a stepson for a time, but after he was blessed with the cure of his stomach cancer and he decided to dedicate his life to spreading Oyasama’s teachings (as detailed here), they seem to disappear from his life entirely.

Some of his subsequent missionary efforts can be described as reckless, to say the least (click for just one such an example). It would be unthinkable for Izumita Tokichi to have been suddenly transformed into a family man in such a context. (One would assume that if such a transformation did take place, it would be prominently told and retold in the Tenrikyo tradition.)

Therefore, I believe I have more than good reason to conclude the translation “achieved harmony in the family” is an inaccurate one. Sato sensei makes an excellent case the harmony Izumita achieves is not with his family but is instead refers to an inner kind of harmony or a state of mind that is aligned with Oyasama’s teachings and further reflected in the sum of all subsequent action.

Previously, in Anecdotes no. 64, Oyasama is described instructing Izumita it was not ideal for him to subject himself to punishing physical austerities. It is implied that refraining from ascetic practices would be a natural outcome of believing in the teaching of “a thing lent, a thing borrowed.” In Anecdotes no. 114, this same teaching allows Izumita to readily submit to the highwaymen who ambushed him on Jusan Pass.

The implication here is that, if one’s body ultimately belongs to God, one cannot ultimately claim ownership over any other material possessions. Izumita appears to have realized this in the instant he was ambushed and he willingly allowed the highwaymen to take away what they wanted and more. (It may be useful to contrast his reaction to that of another follower who rejoices when a burglar runs off without the stolen loot in Anecdotes no. 39.)

Izumita was said to be a heavy-set man and was not a pushover by any means. Takano Tomoji writes: “[Izumita] was very strong and took to hardening his knuckles on any post or rock that happened to be handy. Breaking a stack of ten roof tiles with a single blow was a small matter. He delighted in breaking thick boards and frightening his audience with a ferocious roar as he struck” (p. 45). It may have made the highwaymen uneasy to see such a man surrender without a fight.

That Oyasama bestowed the Sazuke to Izumita after this incident should be seen as her recognition his actions were aligned with what she taught. Anecdotes no. 114 thus functions as support for the notion that mere knowledge of the teachings is not enough; tenets ought to be ideally embodied in one’s actions.


Takano, Tomoji. 1985. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 45-50.

Tenrikyō Seinenkai, ed. 2006. “Oyasama: yō kurō shite kita.” Taimō 453 (September 2006), pp. 16-17.

Further reading
Sato Koji’s Omichi no joshiki: Reconciliation
Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama no. 64: Smoothed Out Gently