The Life of the Honseki Izo Iburi, Part Three

The Construction of the Place for the Service

The offer by the Iburis of donating an altar shrine in appreciation of Sato’s recovery from post-delivery complications transformed into a plan to build a place of worship. The plan was enthusiastically received and the followers quickly acted to bring the plan into reality.

The leading followers at the time met and made a list of tasks to be assigned. The list went as follows: Chushichi Yamanaka, construction expenses; Izo Iburi, labor; Chuyemon (Chusaku) Tsuji, roof tiles; Saemon (Gisaburo) Nakata, six tatami mats; Isaburo Nishida, eight tatami mats.

A number of followers who stayed behind after the Monthly Service on lunar 8/26/1864 held a meeting about the prospect of construction and chipped in to raise the funds of 5 ryo. The money was used as a deposit to buy building materials.

The groundbreaking ceremony was celebrated on 9/13. With Izo in charge of the construction, the work progressed smoothly and the ceremonial raising of the ridge-beam was held on the 10/26, the day of the anniversary of Tenrikyo’s founding. The raising of the beam of the Place for the Service was a festive occasion celebrated with much fanfare.

As the followers were celebrating with little sake to go around, Sato thought to buy an extra bottle. She had to travel about five blocks to Furu Village as there was no store in Shoyashiki that sold liquor. Because Sato had not brought any money with her, the proprietress refused to serve her.

It was only after Sato took off her kimono sash and offered it in place of cash was she able to bring back a bottle to Residence where she was met with cheers.

The trouble at Oyamato Shrine

Chushichi Yamanaka invited a number of followers to his home in Mamekoshi Village to continue the celebration the next day. The followers asked for Oyasama‘s permission to go, to which She readily consented, adding,

Be sure to pay your respects when you pass before a shrine.

The party heading to Mamekoshi included Oyasama’s son Shuji Nakayama, Izo, Chushichi, and nine others. Before the group of followers could reach Mamekoshi, however, they became involved in an incident often referred to as the first “Oyamato Shrine incident.”

As they passed the historical shrine, they remembered Oyasama’s words and proceeded to “pay their respects” by loudly hitting wooden clappers and banging on a drum they carried, chanting “Namu Tenri-O-no-Mikoto” in front of the shrine torii.

Little did the followers realize that Moriya Chikuzen-no-kami, the superintendent of Yoshida Shinto in Yamato Province, was in the middle of conducting a special seven-day prayer. Priests of the Oyamato Shrine came bolting out to seize the instruments and detained the followers for three days, believing that the party had intentionally come to interrupt Moriya’s prayers.

As a result of this incident (with the exception of Shuji, Izo, and Chushichi), most of the followers at the time became estranged from the Path. The Nakayama family, who had previously been unable to pay for even a single bottle of sake, became ever more burdened financially in the process and Shuji’s worries increased.

Then Izo assured him, “No matter what happens, I’ll make sure to finish building the Place for the Service,” and diligently continued to work on its construction by himself.1

Completing the Place for the Service

Chushichi Yamanaka sold lumber from his property and emptied his warehouse of rice and cotton, but this only helped alleviate part of the debt caused by the Oyamato Shrine incident. Izo, who gained the trust of many through his good reputation, settled matters with the lumber and roof tile suppliers so payments could be made at a later time.

As a sign of appreciation of his efforts, Shuji offered Izo a hundred pounds of rice, saying: “Since you have been staying here so long on our behalf, you may have no food or money at home. Please take this rice home with you.”

But because Izo knew of the Nakayamas’ financial situation, he only took a third of the rice he was offered. Izo used the rice to pay a portion of his overdue rent and borrowed the difference from his neighbor Sojiro Kajimoto, who also happened to be Oyasama’s son-in-law. Izo’s brother Kumejiro returned from Kyoto at the end of the year with five ryo, which helped make ends meet for the New Year.

However, Izo was unable to pay the roof tile supplier Ikuzo Fukui in full for a long time and continued to receive a bill every few months. Izo made partial payments little by little until the debt was completely cleared in 1872 or 1873.

Rev. Eizo Ueda has commented on Izo’s efforts as follows: “The manner in which Izo took it upon himself to complete building the Place for the Service sets an example of sincere devotion for all future generations of the Path.”2

The New Year in 1865 saw the completion of the Place for the Service, which is described in The Life of Oyasama as follows:

“The newly built Place for the Service, bright and beautiful, represented a definite step in the construction of the mind toward maturity, a start in the endless construction.

“On the raised floor of one room was the altar for God the Parent, its brand new timber emitting crisp fragrance all around. On the west side of the room was a raised platform on which Oyasama sat straight all day, looking eastward and teaching the truth of the infinite love of God the Parent to those who came to Her.”3

*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. 44–60.
  • Takano Tomoji 高野友治. Gozonmei no koro 『ご存命の頃』, pp. 182–185.
  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Life of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 43–48.
  • 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. 16, 39–40.
  • Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp. 26, 29–38.


  1. “Thirty-eight years ago, beginning in the 9th month… a temporary structure, a temporary structure. The temporary structure was a large undertaking. There was a small knot. Everyone left. Think about the time when the carpenter was left alone by himself” (Osashizu, May 25, 1901, trial translation).
  2. Shinpan Iburi Izo den, p. 26.
  3. The Life of Oyasama, p. 49.