1. Lost in the Mountains of Mukoji
A mysterious incident happened before Izo moved to Ichinomoto. The following is an anecdote from a carpenter named Tozo, who often worked with Izo when he still lived in his home village of Mukoji.
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“When Izo was about 20 years old, a mysterious incident occurred when we went to dig a new water reservoir for the village above Izo’s home. When I think about it, it may have been a sign from God that he would gain such distinction later in life.
“Between 20 and 30 villagers came to build the reservoir aqueduct. During an afternoon break, Izo went up the mountain with two or three others to pick bracken. He found some pheasant eggs and went further west in hopes of catching the mother hen. The others who were with him didn’t think too much of this at the time, but when Izo failed to return, they searched everywhere they could but were unable to find him. Izo finally showed himself around sunset, coming out of the ravine above the reservoir. Everyone there was astonished to see him drenched in sweat.
“Someone then said: ‘We looked everywhere for you. Where have you been until now?’
“Izo then replied: ‘While I was chasing the pheasant, a personage resembling Tenjin-sama (note: the Shinto deity of scholarship) appeared and told me to go further west. Before I knew it, I came out of that ravine.’
“All who saw Izo’s condition and heard his story were amazed and whispered amongst themselves that strange things do indeed happen. Izo did not return to work that day; he went to rest and fell into a deep sleep.”
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Izo thereafter moved to Ichinomoto. Through this incident, it is possible to imagine that God the Parent had a profound intention to draw Izo closer to Jiba. The year Izo got lost in the mountains would be 1850, a couple of years after Oyasama had begun teaching sewing to the young women in the neighborhood.
Source: Ueda, Eizo. Shinpan Izo Iburi den, p. 8–9
- Next installment in this series: 2. “It’s Delicious, It’s Delicious”
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.