Joys and Sorrows Along the Path
For nearly 20 years, Izo made daily visits to Jiba and was directly instructed in the Tenrikyo teachings by Oyasama. If Izo was even a little late to show up at the usual time, Oyasama would ask Shuji or Kokan,
Do you see Izo-san coming yet?1
One cold summer night, when Izo came to the Residence as he usually did, he found Oyasama, Shuji and Kokan crouching over a charcoal brazier that had no fire. Unable to ignore their dire situation, Izo suggested, “It’s quite cold tonight, so let’s make a fire from something,” and headed for the shed. Discovering there was no charcoal or firewood, Izo gathered together fallen leaves and started a fire. Oyasama was greatly pleased, saying,
Only Izo-san would come on a cold night like tonight.2
Moments later, Oyasama said to Izo:
It’s getting late, so please return home. We don’t want to keep you from your work tomorrow.2
Izo followed Oyasama’s words and returned to Ichinomoto. However, when Izo recalled the hardships Oyasama, Shuji and Kokan were enduring, he could not sleep. As dawn broke, he left for the Residence together with Sato to see how Oyasama and Her two children were doing.
When Sato became pregnant in late 1865, both Izo and Sato felt it was all due to the blessing of God the Parent and deepened their devotion to the faith. One day in the summer of 1866, when Sato was due to give birth, Oyasama urged her to move into the Residence,
Stay here and you shall be able to give birth without labor pains.4
However, Sato insisted she was too busy to do so and only received the sacred flour before returning to Ichinomoto. Therefore she experienced labor pains but gave birth with relative ease to a baby girl on lunar 8/17. Greatly overjoyed, Izo returned to the Residence to express his appreciation to Oyasama, who also rejoiced and said,
Izo-san, because you say ‘yoshi, yoshi’ (very good) in every positive situation, I name her Yoshie.5
Izo and Sato returned to the Residence with their infant daughter and also stayed briefly at the home of Sato’s parents. During their stay Izo fixed a window, which delighted his in-laws. Yoshie married Narajiro Ueda in April 1887 and together they established the Nagao family line, which continues to this day.
In the autumn of 1866, Oyasama taught the melody and accompanying hand movements of the first section of the Mikagura-uta (“Ashiki harai“). She also composed the Twelve Songs between the 1st and 8th lunar months of 1867.
In the summer of the same year, the general public grew excited over rumors claiming that talismans (oharai-san) from the Grand Shrine of Ise and other prestigious shrines or temples were falling from the sky. There was an old custom that obligated the members of the house where a talisman fell (usually the home of a rich peasant or merchant) to treat their neighbors with food and drink or risk the destruction of their home. Though the masses were shouting, calling for a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Ise, Oyasama warned:
They may say talismans and such are falling, but it is like blood raining from the skies. In the coming year the subject will change completely.6
Also, Oyasama is known to have said:
To compare it to the human body, it is like vomit and diarrhea. When vomit and diarrhea become excessive, the flesh itself will be drained. God is concerned.
Izo was initially puzzled at Oyasama’s warning, wondering to himself: “What is God saying? Everyone seems to be in a festive mood.”7
However, not long after the lunar New Year, fighting broke out in the city of Kyoto, a bloody skirmish between pro-shogunate and pro-imperial forces that was later named the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. It marked the end of the Tokugawa era and heralded the restoration of imperial rule over Japan. As Kyoto continued to smolder with smoke, Izo and others were in awe over Oyasama’s ability to predict what they felt was an unforeseen event, confirming Her greatness in their eyes.
In the winter of 1868, Sato gave birth again, this time to a jewel-like baby boy named Masajiro.
The following year, Oyasama wrote the words of God the Parent in poetic verse, which presently comprise parts one and two of the Scripture known as the Ofudesaki.
Time passed, and the young Masajiro began to walk. Sato became pregnant once again during obon season in 1871. On lunar 4/19/1872, Sato gave birth to a second daughter, Masae. There were now three Iburi children, Yoshie at age six, Masajiro at age four, and the infant Masae.
One summer day, Masajiro was playing hide-and-go-seek with the neighborhood children. Hiding in a closet in his home, he was found by one of his friends, who suddenly fell on top of him. Masajiro then hit his head hard against a wooden pillar in the back of the closet. Masajiro fell ill and passed away for rebirth ten days later on lunar 11/7. It was a terrible shock for the family.
Oyasama attempted to console Sato, who was distraught from the passing of her beloved son. Oyasama said:
Sato-san, if you miss Masajiro that much, I shall return him to you. Your next child will be a boy. I will rename him “Masajin” beforehand, because there is no part of a tree more beautiful than the masa (straight grain) and no part harder than the jin (the flexible but tough part of a tree).
In this way, Oyasama foretold that Sato would next give birth to a boy, who would be Masajiro reborn. Oyasama also wrote the following verses for Izo:
Though a shelter was built to block the wind, it is not secure. Quickly make arrangements it so it will be tight and secure.
Ponder the place where you will live for eternity. Resolve your mind and quickly settle.
Once you have settled, you will no longer be wanting for clothing or food, and the child will be quickly returned to you.
Once the child is returned to you this time, he will become the master carpenter of the nation.
Ofudesaki, unnumbered set from Nagao family copy
On lunar 12/26/1874, Sato gave birth to a baby boy.
- Next installment in this series: Part Six: The Sazuke of Speech
*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. 61–71.
- Okuya Bunchi 奥谷文智. Honseki Iburi Izo 『本席飯降伊蔵』, pp. 31–38, 42.
- _________, ed. Honseki-sama 『本席さま』, pp. 53–56.
- Takano Tomoji 高野友治. Gozonmei no koro 『ご存命の頃』, pp. 163–164, 182–187.
- Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. The Life of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 57, 74.
- 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. 44–45.
- Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp. 40–41, 44, 47–54.
- Yamochi Tatsuzo 矢持辰三. Kohon Tenrikyo Oyasama den nyumon jikko 『稿本天理教教祖入門十講』, pp. 188–191.