Tag Archives: Iburi Izo

Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 98

98. For Eternity

When Izo Iburi gave up his house in Ichinomoto and moved to the Residence on March 26, 1882, Oyasama gave him these words:

“I had you live in here, deciding that from now on you are the members of the one household and one family. Do not move for eternity. Do not be moved.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 81

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 31

31. The Measure of Heaven

One day Oyasama said to Izo Iburi:

“Izo, will you cut down a tree in the mountains and make a straight post from it?”

Izo promptly did so. Afterward, Oyasama said:

“Izo, try to place a ruler against the post,”

and She continued:

“Isn’t there a gap between the two?”

When Izo placed the ruler against the post there was in fact a gap. So he replied, “There is a little gap.” Then, Oyasama taught:

“Exactly! Even the things that are considered to be straight by all the people of the world are warped when they are placed against the measure of heaven.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 24–25

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 30

30. Ten Thousandfold

Once Oyasama took a grain of unhulled rice in Her hand, and showed it to Izo Iburi, saying:

“The same is true with a human being. You sow a grain of sincerity, and it multiplies to two or three hundred grains in a year, ten thousand in the second year. Ten thousandfold, as we call it. It will be enough for sowing all over the province of Yamato in the third year.”

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 24

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Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama 29

29. Three Treasures

Once Oyasama said to Izo Iburi:

“Izo, open your hand.”

She had three unhulled grains of rice in Her hand, and when Izo opened his hand as requested, Oyasama said:

“This is early rising, this is honesty and this is work,”

and placed them one at a time in the palm of his hand. Then, She continued:

“Hold these three firmly in your hand. You must try not to lose them.”

Izo adhered to this teaching for the rest of his life.

Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 24

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Rising Early, Honesty, and Hard Work

The following is an excerpt from Omichi no joshiki [Tenrikyo Fundamentals] (pp. 61–65) by Koji Sato (佐藤浩司), assistant professor at Tenri University and instructor at Tenri Seminary. Note: This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.

Rising Early, Honesty, and Hard Work

Izo Iburi was an honest and hard worker, having the reputation in his neighborhood as a sincere person. He earned his living as a carpenter and was also praised for his work. He joined the faith in 1864 after his wife Sato was saved from severe complications resulting from a miscarriage.

Izo subsequently served Oyasama and the Residence in such a fervent manner that he was called a “man of true sincerity.” Even when the building of the Place for the Service was almost interrupted by an incident at Oyamato Shrine, Izo shouldered the responsibility of completing the construction on his own.

One day Oyasama took three unhulled rice grains and placed them one after another in the palm of his hand, saying:

This one is for rising early, this one for honesty, and this one for hard work. Hold these firmly in your hand. You must make sure that you never lose them.

Anecdotes of Oyasama 29 “Three Treasures”

It need not be mentioned that since Izo was the embodiment of “early rising, honesty, and hard work,” he took Oyasama’s words to heart and further committed himself to implementing them throughout his life. Yet, we may ask, why did Oyasama instruct Izo in this way?

*         *         *

Oyasama taught the lesson of “rising early, honesty, and hard work” to Izo’s eldest daughter Yoshie in the following manner:

Working hard out the sight of others and praising others is honesty. If you do not put into practice what you hear, you yourself will become a lie. If you continue to work, saying to yourself, ‘Just a little more, just a little bit more’; this is not greed, it is work that comes from true sincerity.

Anecdotes of Oyasama 111, “Being Awakened in the Morning”

There is a proverb that says, “In spring one sleeps a sleep that knows no dawn.” Again, it is not very easy to get out of bed on in the morning on a cold day. Especially in our youth, our wish is to sleep even a minute or second longer.

In the west there is the well-known proverb “The early bird gets the worm.” There are similar proverbs in Japanese (“An early riser gains three mon1) and in Chinese (“An early riser gains light from three sources—the Sun, the Moon, and the stars”).

In any case, the act of waking early in the morning is promoted as an effective means to bring about success. The reason why early rising has been promoted this way in the East and West, both past and present, is because of the reality that it is quite a difficult thing to accomplish.

There are some who insist that “asa-oki” (“rising early,” or literally “waking in the morning”) is different from “haya-oki” (“early rising”). By examining the Chinese character to write “asa” (朝, i.e., “morning”) we see that it is made up of a combination of other characters. We can interpret the character for morning to mean “the sufficiently (十) early (早) time when the Moon (月) looks bigger than the Sun (日).” Thus “asa-oki” as Oyasama meant it can be interpreted to waking when the Sun is about to rise. What do you think of my suggested interpretation?

*         *         *

A psalm that is often quoted says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” There is also the general view that “Honesty does not pay.” Yet the problem of improprieties being committed by individuals working at government agencies and big businesses in recent years is a result of lies heaped atop one another. When the truth comes out, even a well-established company can make a negative about-turn and endure the misery of bankruptcy. As the proverb “God dwells in an honest man’s head” instructs us, it is better for us to live with righteousness and honesty.

But honesty does not simply end at being a frame of mind.

As Oyasama instructed, “If you do not put into practice what you hear, you yourself will become a lie,” the implementation of honesty in our daily life is important.

*           *           *

The path tells us that humans were born to work in this world. Oyasama taught we work (hataraku) in order to make things easier (raku) for those around us (hata).

People must work in order to make a living. But as the proverb says, “Man does not live on bread alone,” people work with different aspirations in mind. The concept of “work” or mutual help that Oyasama taught as a means “to make things easier for the people around us” was adopted from the path by the acclaimed “god of management” Konosuke Matsushita as his company motto when he founded Matsushita Electric.

*         *         *

As for the answer to the question I posed earlier on the possible reason why Oyasama taught the lesson of “rising early, honesty, and hard work” when Izo was already the embodiment of these qualities, She also taught the following lesson while holding a grain of unhulled rice:

The same is true with a human being. If you sow a grain of sincerity, within a year’s time, it will yield two to three hundred grains. In the second year there will be grains in the tens of thousands. The providence of a single grain returning ten-thousandfold will be granted. By the third year there will be enough to sow the entire province of Yamato.

Anecdotes of Oyasama 30, “Ten Thousandfold”

I feel that Oyasama’s emphasis on the importance of “rising early, honesty, and hard work” is revealed to us by the fact that She taught this lesson using an unhulled grain of rice. This lesson is significant due to the very fact that Izo embodied these qualities on a daily basis.

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


  1. A mon is an ancient unit of money worth one-thousandth of a yen.

Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 35

35. The Awe-Inspiring Honseki

The following is an anecdote written by Yoshimatsu Shimizu (1872–1958), the third head minister of Heishin Grand Church, who served as the Honseki’s attendant together with Tamizo Ueda:

“I consider it a great honor to have had the opportunity to serve and be in daily contact with the Honseki for seven calendar years from September 1901 to June 1907 when he passed away for rebirth.

“It was awe-inspiring to see how the Honseki was extremely serious when it came to serving God and how he always observed Oyasama’s lesson of ‘early rising, being honest, and working diligently’ in all his daily tasks. Also particularly awe-inspiring was his habit of always saying: ‘Be sure to remember the past,’ and showing his frugality by being content with simple meals and plain clothes.

Continue reading Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 35

Anecdotes of the Honseki Izo Iburi 9

9. The Hesitant Blacksmith

When Sato suffered an illness following her miscarriage in the spring of 1864, Izo desperately sought help from various doctors and prayer-specialists. Although there is an account that claims that a fellow carpenter named Nagai told Izo about Oyasama’s growing local reputation as the “living god of safe childbirth,” it is often a “Kisaburo of Tsubao Village” who is given this credit.

Similarly, accounts differ on whether Izo had previously been to Shoyashiki Village. There is an account that claims that Izo had done carpentry jobs there from time to time and because the Kajimotos were the Iburis’ neighbors, Izo must have already heard about Oyasama since Haru Kajimoto was Her daughter. However, the general consensus is that Izo had never heard of Shoyashiki Village prior to Sato’s illness and that the Kajimotos never spoke of Oyasama in front of the Iburis.

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Tenri Forum Presentation on July 17, 2006

Taking Cues from Oyasama’s Divine Model in Creating an Environmentally Conscious Culture

(This is my manuscript from my presentation at Tenri Forum 2006 at the Section Meeting Tenrikyo and Its Approach to the Environment)


Hello everyone. Although I fear that I am by no means an expert and lack a background in environmental activism which our two previous presenters—Mr. Cedric Noto and Ms. Amira Dali—have, I hope to use the best of my limited background in what I call “Tenrikyology,” or Tenrikyo studies, to approach the subject of this section meeting.

Continue reading Tenri Forum Presentation on July 17, 2006