188. Permanent Staff of the Residence (yashiki ni jōzume)
Around noon on August 25, 1886, a short and stocky man came to the Residence and announced himself as the head of the Nara Police Station. He was received by Oyasama, and afterward left the Residence.
That night, someone pounded at the gate of the Residence, almost to the point of breaking it. Yoshie Iburi asked who it was, and the answer came, I am the head of the Nara Police Station. I visited here this afternoon. Open the gate!” Although Yoshie thought it was strange, she opened the gate and suddenly five or six ruffians rushed into the kitchen, all shouting, “Let’s set fire to this Residence and burn it down tonight.” Yoshie was shocked, ran into a room and shut the door behind her. The room led to Oyasama’s room.
The ruffians then hurled the brazier from the kitchen, raising a storm of ashes in the room. Bowls and dishes were smashed. Intermediaries who were sitting in conference upstairs heard the rumbling sounds and screaming voices, and rushed downstairs. They fought the ruffians at the risk of their lives.
This happened to be the day of Ohimachi,* and villagers were meeting in a neighbor’s house. They also heard the uproar and hastened to the scene in a crowd. They helped to overcome the ruffians and then informed the police of the situation.
Narazo Hirano, took the six ruffians to the Tofuya Inn and, after giving them a serious lecture on their misconduct, released them.
On that day, Oyasama paid Her tribute of praise to Hirano:
“It was a chance for you to show your courage. Starting tomorrow you shall join the permanent staff of the Residence.”
* Ohimachi originally was an overnight gathering where people purified themselves and on the following morning worshiped the sunrise. Later it became a festival where villagers feasted together after rice-planting or harvest.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 148–149
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