Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 125

125. Cannot See Ahead (Japanese title: Saki ga mien no ya)

Koyoshi Nakayama resolved to return to her parents’ home because she thought her husband, Jyukichi, was too easygoing and undependable. Just at that moment, she lost her eyesight. Then, she had Sato Iburi ask Oyasama for instructions. Oyasama gave these words:

“Koyoshi cannot see ahead. Please give her that advice.”

Upon hearing this, Koyoshi realized her error, and cried until her eyes were dry. The very moment she apologized, she was able to see just as clearly as before.

Note: Koyoshi was married on August 27, 1883. The above incident is said to have occurred soon thereafter.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 103

Translation of “Sawa‘s note”
“Jukichi [spelled Jyukichi above] was the second son of Oyasama’s eldest daughter Masa. Masa was the wife Fukui Jisuke but she and Jukichi took on her maiden surname on February 16, 1878. Her eldest son Tsurutaro succeeded as head of the Fukui household. Circa 1882 Jusuke begins managing an inn (the Nakayama Ryokan, which was also known as Mishima-ya) near Jiba. Jukichi and Koyoshi had three children: Yoshitaro, Torajiro, and Shizue.”

My take
I consider it quite telling that Koyoshi had Iburi Sato ask Oyasama for an explanation for her sudden blindness. That Koyoshi was the wife of Oyasama’s grandson apparently did not readily grant her access to her own grandmother-in-law.

As implied in Anecdotes no. 106, not everyone appears to have direct access with Oyasama. Most could only meet her through an “intermediary” (tori-tsugi).

There is more than one possible explanation why this arrangement was in place. One reason was that this may have afforded a degree of security/protection from the surveillance of the police, which markedly intensified from late 1874.

Yet it must be pointed out that there are descriptions of people having been “granted an audience with Oyasama” (o-medori suru) as early as 1864 (as in Anecdotes no. 11), when such attention from law enforcement was still nonexistent.

While an argument can be made that “o-medori suru” is a standard phrase used to describe someone meeting another of a higher social position (since Oyasama is often regarded as God incarnate, it makes linguistic sense to demonstrate an appropriate level of respect by a using a phrase such as “o-medori suru” in her meetings with others), it is notable that the account of Iburi Izo’s first visit to Jiba described in The Life of Oyasama mentions that he first met with Kokan and only met directly with Oyasama on a later visit. Thus, it appears it was a long-established practice for people who were not yet a constant presence at the Residence to have someone to mediate on their behalf as Sato had done for Koyoshi.

It is also telling that Koyoshi did not respond to Oyasama’s remark that “Koyoshi cannot see ahead” with something like: “Of course I can’t see ahead! I’ve suddenly gone blind, dangfunnit!”

Koyoshi is said to have immediately “realized her error” once she was told Oyasama’s instruction. Thus, I interpret “She cannot see ahead” as an admonishment of Koyoshi’s quick and possibly superficial assessment of her husband that almost caused her to leave him. I imagine that Oyasama wished for Koyoshi to judge Jukichi’s character over the long run and that it would be to her benefit for her to stay by her husband’s side instead of leaving him.

In any case, it is telling once again that her vision is described as having been restored after her tearful repentance.