3. Izo’s Sandal Stew
Izo had a playful side to him. One of the stories that prove this is “Izo’s Sandal Stew.” One night he gathered with his young colleagues for a night of fun. They played a traditional game known as yamijiru, or night stew. In this game, each person adds an ingredient to a simmering stew pot in the dark. Because each person is unaware of what the others have brought, there is no knowing what is in the stew when a lamp or candle is lit and everyone begins eating.
That night, when the lid of the pot was opened, there was a straw sandal floating in the stew. Now, imagine what the overall response was. Everyone must have thought, “Someone has gone too far this time.” The search was then on to discover who the culprit was. The culprit turned out to be Izo.
“Izo, this is really far too much,” his friends said.
Izo then smiled and said, “Take a closer look at that sandal.”
It then became apparent that the straw sandal was not made of straw but out of dried taro stem (stalk). Everyone then burst out in laughter, reveling in how they were fooled by Izo’s practical joke.
(Adapted from Gozonmei no koro by Tomoji Takano, p. 179–180 and Shinpan Izo Iburi den by Eizo Ueda , p. 11)
- Next installment in this series: 4. Izo’s Carefree Bachelor Years
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.