The Life of the Honseki Izo Iburi, Part Seven

The Iburis Move Into the Residence

It has been said that Oyasama began to urge Izo to move into the Residence as early as 1867 or 1868. From about 1875, the year Kokan passed away for rebirth, the Residence increasingly became a busy place and Oyasama’s requests became ever more urgent. Although Izo would verbally accede to Oyasama’s requests, it took many years before he actually carried out this promise. At first it may take us by surprise that Izo, who was so widely known for his sincerity and honesty, would take so long to do so, but truth be told, there were many reasons for this.

First, no follower had yet set the precedent of completely moving into the Residence, and it proved to be a difficult decision to make. Police surveillance over followers returning to the Residence grew stricter by the day. Oyasama and occasionally Shuji were summoned and incarcerated by the police for allowing people to gather at the Residence, which was not recognized as a legal place of worship.

Second, there was little room at the Residence for the Iburis and their three children to live. Izo and Sato felt they would inconvenience Oyasama if they were to move in as She requested. They even once consulted with Sojiro Kajimoto, who said: “You are more than free to go. But I can say that with the situation at the Residence now, you will have a hard time filling your stomachs.”

In addition, there was no knowing what a third party might say if they moved in with their three children. Because Izo and Sato knew the situation at the Residence firsthand, they were hesitant of decisively acting to follow Oyasama’s request. Lastly, they also worried about their children’s future. Even if they could find the resolve to practice tanno in any situation, they as parents wanted to spare their children from undergoing hardship.

Now and then Izo received guidance through an illness or similar misfortune. In 1876, Izo’s eyes became swollen. Another time, when Izo was chopping a piece of lumber with a hatchet, a scrap of wood flew and wedged between the flesh and big toenail of his right foot. When Izo inquired of Oyasama about these problems, She said:

There is no need for concern. You will soon heal. God wants you to quickly move into the Residence.1

Once in 1877, when Izo’s eldest daughter Yoshie was twelve, she experienced a pain in her finger. Upon inquiring of Oyasama, Yoshie was told,

Learn to play the shamisen.

As soon as Yoshie accepted, her finger stopped aching. For the next three years Oyasama Herself taught Yoshie to play the shamisen.

Although Izo was still commuting to the Residence from Ichinomoto, he contributed to the construction of the “two-storied house” in 1879 and the “storehouse” in 1881. Also, at the first performance of the Kagura Service in 1880, Izo danced the role of Kashikone-no-Mikoto and Yoshie played the shamisen.

“Go to the workplace”

Beginning in 1880, Oyasama began sending followers with worldly concerns to Izo for instructions, saying,

Of matters concerning dust, go to the workplace (shigoto-ba).2

With increasing frequency, Oyasama told followers who came to Her for advice on illnesses and other misfortunes, “Go to the Invocation Master,” or, “Go and ask Izo-san” to invoke the divine will. Years later in 1926, Headquarters Executive Official Yosaburo Miyamori recalled, “I remember going to Ichinomoto several times after Oyasama told me to go see Izo instead when I went to receive Her guidance.”

Rev. Eizo Ueda has suggested: “That Izo became the Honseki following Oyasama’s withdrawal from physical life was by no means a coincidence. Through giving Izo the role of ‘the workplace,’ Oyasama was preparing Izo so She would be able to speak through him after Her withdrawal.”3

Izo receives guidance to move into the Residence

Oyasama patiently waited for Izo to make his move, but in 1881, the seasonal time had arrived. One day, Izo fell from a footstool at a construction site and had to be carried on a sliding door to Oyasama, who said to him:

Izo-san, God allowed you to fall. If you had moved into the Residence, this misfortune could have been averted. It happened because you have not done as God has asked of you. I ask you to return home, to move into the Residence with your family.4

Soon after, Izo’s second daughter Masae became afflicted with an eye disease and his son Masajin suddenly stopped talking. Sato approached Oyasama and said: “Although we wished to move into the Residence as soon as possible, we could not bring ourselves to do so because our neighbors in Ichinomoto have been so kind to us. Your words are foremost in our minds as we reluctantly pass each day without complying with Your wish.” Then, Oyasama said:

Because people like you, God also likes you. While people regret to see you leave, God also regrets not seeing you here. As long as people are fond of you, God also sees promise in you.

Then, Sato continued: “However, our children are still so young. Please wait until they are older.” Oyasama then replied:

It is because you have children that you have joy and promise. There would not be such joy and promise without them. Please hurry and return to the Residence.

Sato then promised her family would respond to this knot by moving to Shoyashiki. When she came home to Ichinomoto she found that her two children had recovered from their respective ailments. Upon consulting with her husband, the Iburis decided that Sato would immediately move in with their two younger children in September 1881. Izo stayed behind to put their household in order and moved into the Residence with Yoshie on March 26, 1882. At that time, Oyasama told them:

Now that you have come to live at the Residence from today, there is no need for you to defer to anyone. From now on you are members of the One Household and One Family. Do not move for eternity. Do not be moved.5

At the time the Iburis began living at the Residence, Izo was 50, Sato 49, Yoshie 17, Masae 11, and Masajin nine years old.

A difficult life at the Residence

In 1882, Izo quit his job as a carpenter and began a life exclusively devoted to the path. He moved into the Residence to join his family where a difficult life awaited them. At the time, the Residence was home to Oyasama, Shuji’s widow Matsue, Oyasama’s grandson Shinnosuke (who was formally adopted into the Nakayama family in September 1881), and his sister Hisa Kajimoto. Rin Masui, who served as Oyasama’s personal attendant since 1879, was renting a room in a neighboring house. There were also about a dozen followers who were regulars at the Residence. When Izo was preparing for the move, Oyasama said:

There is no need for you to bring a single thing. God will provide everything you need at the Residence.6

So Izo only brought the barest necessities with him. However, Matsue’s actions went against these words of Oyasama. Matsue pressured the Iburis to pay a monthly fee for using things such as bedding, blankets, and a charcoal brazier. There also were a minority of followers who complained that housing and feeding the Iburis and their children was causing an unnecessary financial burden to be placed on the Residence.

Izo bore such incivilities in silence. Despite the fact that he was unaccustomed to doing farm work, he devoted his utmost sincerity by working in the fields of the Residence. He and Sato also helped at the inn and steam bath that the late Shuji established in 1876 to enable followers to gather without police intervention (Shuji passed away for rebirth in April 1881). The license to run the inn and steam bath was registered under Sato’s name from April 1882 until they were both closed later that year.7 Oyasama encouraged Izo by saying:

Certainly, things are difficult at the moment, but this will not last long. So please be patient for the time being. The merit gained through your present hardship will be returned to you in the span of a single night. There is no need to worry over your children’s future.8

Izo taken to Nara Prison

Oyasama endured the hardship of imprisonment no less than 17 times. About six months after Izo moved into the Residence, Oyasama was incarcerated for 12 days at Nara Prison beginning on October 29, 1882.

On the day before Her scheduled release, Izo received a summons from the police station in Obitoke. Izo was being arrested on the allegation that he failed to inform the police that his apprentice Otokichi was staying with him. The authorities had planned to dampen the spirits of the followers who came to greet Oyasama by having Her party cross paths with Izo as he was being taken to Nara Prison. Oyasama and Izo are said to have crossed paths in front of the “Monju” or Tokondo (Eastern Golden Hall) of Kofukuji.

Yoshie awaited Oyasama’s release, bringing a new set of red clothes for Her to wear since She had spent time in a filthy prison. Yoshie crossed paths with her father, who was being led by a police officer to Nara Prison. Seeing Yoshie, Izo shouted, “I am going!”

Yoshie then responded in a spirited voice, “Please take your time. Do not worry about the household!” and thus Izo and his daughter together showed remarkable resilience in the face of such hardship.

Izo spent ten days in Nara Prison, and at about the time of his release, construction on Oyasama’s Resting House began. This new building was completed in the autumn of 1883. Oyasama moved from the South Gatehouse into the Resting House on the night of tenth lunar 10/26.

The Iburis lived in a dark storehouse until it was demolished to make way for the Resting House. During its construction, they rented a room next door (called “Kaseya,” otherwise known as the Kitamura residence). They began living at the ten-mat South Gatehouse once Oyasama moved into the Resting House.

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


  • Imamura Toshimi 今村俊三. “Fusekomi: Honseki-sama no michisugara ni manabu.” Arakitoryo 215 (Spring 2004), pp. 104–131.
  • Okuya Bunchi 奥谷文智, ed. Honseki-sama 『本席さま』, pp. 86–100.
  • Shiojiri Yasuo 塩尻安夫. “Honseki no fusekomi ni tsuite” 「本席の伏せ込みについて」 Kyudo『求道』30, pp. 111–123.
  • Tenrikyo Church Headquarters. Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 46–47, 73–74, 81.
  • _________. The Life of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 111, 171.
  • 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. 22–23, 46–53.
  • Ueda Eizo 植田英蔵. Shinpan Iburi Izo den 『新版飯降伊蔵伝』, pp. 58–62, 64–73, 92–94.

Further reading


  1. Shinpan Iburi Izo den, p. 59 & 58.
  2. ibid. p. 93.
  3. ibid. p. 94.
  4. ibid. p. 68.
  5. One Divine Direction remarks on the Iburis moving into the Residence in the following manner:

    “What do you think of the single truth of a husband and wife whom I received and who came into the Residence with their belongings to dedicate themselves here?”

    Osashizu, August 26, 1898, trial translation)

  6. ibid. p. 72.
  7. Concerning the closing of the inn and steam bath, Oyasama said, “God the Parent has taken them away because the filth was unbearable, unbearable” (The Life of Oyasama, p. 179).
  8. Ten no jogi, p. 51.