Gisaburo was born on 5/25/1831 in present-day Toyoda-cho, Tenri City. He was originally named Saemon (佐右衛門, alternately spelled as Sayemon).
Embracing the faith
Gisaburo embraced the faith in 1863 after his wife Kaji was saved from postnatal complications when giving birth to their son Kishimatsu.
Although he took on the name “Gisaburo” after a government edict banned names ending in -(y)emon and others circa 1870, Oyasama and others continued to affectionately refer to him as “Sayomi-san.”
When Oyasama bestowed the Sazuke of the Fan to followers in 1864, Gisaburo was also granted the Sazuke of the Gohei and Sazuke of Fertilizer, an honor that was only limited to him and Chushichi Yamanaka. He was among the first followers to learn the Teodori or Service Dance from Oyasama in 1867.
Gisaburo is mentioned several times throughout The Life of Oyasama and Anecdotes of Oyasama, attesting to his importance in the nascent Tenrikyo movement. He often conveyed the teachings to people who came to the Residence and visited follower’s homes to engage in salvation work and teach the hand movements of the Teodori.
In late 1874, Oyasama commanded Gisaburo and Ichibei Matsuo to go to Oyamato Shrine to inquire about the deities enshrined there, which drew heightened attention from the authorities to Oyasama’s religious activities.
Oyasama was summoned to Yamamura Palace on December 23 to undergo a cross-examination. On the 25th, officials summoned Gisaburo, Ichibei, and Chusaku Tsuji to pressure them to abandon their faith. Then, on the 26th, Gisaburo was one of four followers who were the very first to receive Sazuke grants that were specifically used to alleviate physical ailments. The particular grant that he received from Oyasama was the Sazuke of Breath.
As government authorities increased their surveillance over Oyasama and her following, Gisaburo often was detained and fined by the police. He accompanied Oyasama during her last detainment, in 1886 at Ichinomoto Branch Police Station. His passing on June 22, 1886 may have been indirectly caused by a combination of the severe conditions at the prison and rough treatment at the hands of the police.
At his deathbed, Oyasama is said to have lamented, “Even though I had looked upon him as fine brocade....”
- 『改訂 天理教辞典』 Kaitei Tenrikyo jiten, pp. 687–8.
- Takano, Tomoji. Disciples of Oyasama, Foundress of Tenrikyo, pp. 1–3. Tenrikyo Overseas Mission Department.