The Life of the Honseki Izo Iburi, Part Two

“A Carpenter Will Appear”

Before Izo arrived, Oyasama had uttered the following prediction,

“A carpenter will appear, will appear.”

Also, upon seeing Izo, Oyasama proclaimed:

Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, the God of the eight directions, has been waiting. God is overjoyed that the greatest carpenter of Japan has arrived.”1

Izo first met with Oyasama’s daughter Kokan and, conveying to her Sato’s condition, inquired for assistance. After relaying his request to Oyasama, Kokan responded,
“God says that your wife will be saved, although it may be hard for her to believe since she has never heard of Tenri-O-no-Mikoto before.”2

Upon receiving several packets of sacred barley flour3 from Kokan, Izo returned home and related to his wife what he was just told. Sato then happily consumed the flour and removed her abdominal sash as instructed. (It was a common practice at the time for expectant mothers to wear a sash since it was believed this would lead to a smooth childbirth.) Sato felt a little better and Izo returned to Jiba once more at the break of dawn. He told Kokan that Sato’s health was improving. Kokan further encouraged him:

“God says, ‘I shall save her.’ Therefore, you must not worry.”

Izo then came home with more sacred flour and Sato’s condition improved once again. That night, Izo returned to Jiba for a third time to express his thanks. By the third day, Sato was able to sit up with some help and regained her appetite. Soon, she was on her way to a complete recovery.

Because Izo lost his first wife Natsu to post-delivery complications, we can imagine how overjoyed he felt at Sato’s recovery. We can also determine the extent and depth of his gratitude considering how he returned to Jiba each time Sato’s health gradually improved, for a total of three times in the span of two days. Later in life, Izo often said, “Oyasama saved Sato’s life when it all seemed hopeless.”

A pilgrimage to Jiba together as husband and wife

Izo and Sato made their first pilgrimage to Jiba together on lunar 6/25/1864. Sato felt that it was a shame that this gracious God that saved her life was enshrined in a small, shabby eight-mat room with a gohei (a staff with paper streamers) used as a symbol of worship. Sato suggested to Izo that he could build a wooden altar shrine to express their appreciation in concrete form.4

On the 26th of the following month, after Izo and Sato received the truth of Grant of the Fan and Grant of the Gohei, they expressed their wish to donate a wooden altar shrine. But Oyasama said:

“There is no need for a shrine. Start building something small. It is to be a structure of six feet square.5 Additions can be made depending on your minds.”

Rev. Tatsuzo Yamochi, a former instructor at Tenri Seminary, explains as follows: “Oyasama told Izo there was no need for him to build an altar shrine. The reason being, Oyasama Herself was already the living Shrine of Tsukihi (God the Parent). Thus, allowing Izo to donate an altar shrine constructed out of wood would have conflicted with this important teaching.”6

Also, according to the second Shinbashira, Shozen Nakayama, Oyasama’s instructions to build a structure “six feet square” symbolically refers to the size of the spot where Izanami-no-Mikoto stayed for three years and three months during human creation. Lastly, Oyasama also said, “Additions can be made depending on your minds.” Because the people who gathered for each Monthly Service on the 26th could not fit into the small eight-mat room where God the Parent was enshrined, the followers consulted with one another and decided to build a place of worship 36 feet long and 21 feet wide.

Izo’s efforts in building the Place for the Service continues to be considered a very significant contribution in the history of Tenrikyo. Its construction is a prominent theme in Song Three of the Songs for the Service:

At Shoyashiki in the homeland of the sun, this Place for the Service is the origin of the world.

This marvelous Place for the Service, though I ask no one to build,

All gathering together from the world, the construction has been accomplished. How miraculous it is!

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.


  • Nakayama Shozen 中山正善. Hitokoto-hanashi 『ひとことはなし・その一』, pp. 34–44.
  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Life of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 39–43.
  • Tenrikyo Doyusha 天理教道友, ed. Ten no jogi: Honseki Iburi Izo no shogai 『天の定規―本席飯降伊蔵の生涯』, pp 13–16, 18–19, 36–39.
  • Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp 20–28.
  • Yamochi Tatsuzo 矢持辰三. Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den nyumon jikko 『稿本天理教教祖入門十講』, pp. 133–142.


  1. Shinpan Iburi Izo den, p. 24.
  2. ibid. p. 23.
  3. One of the first forms of what is called goku or sacred gifts. Read this excerpt from Yoshikazu Fukaya’s Words Of The Path for more information.
  4. Although I have written, “Sato suggested to Izo that he could build a wooden altar shrine to express their appreciation in concrete form,” I honestly am not sure where I got this from. I was pretty confident that I got it from a reliable source, but now, I’m not so positive.

    FYI, in The Life of Oyasama, Sato brings up the idea of making an offering to express their appreciation, but it was Izo who comes up with the idea of making an altar shrine. See page 42.

  5. Or one tsubo according to the original Japanese. Some Japanese commentators have noted the significance of Oyasama specifying the size of the structure ought to start from the lowest unit of measurement Izo could have begun with. There is a Divine Direction that reads:

    “It began from six feet square. You may consider six feet as nothing at all. The first step is often so. The one who said he would accept the task was none other than the Honseki” (Osashizu, May 21, 1907, trial translation).

  6. Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den nyumon jikko, p. 139.