Bleach: What Is the Irazusando?

Bleach: What Is the Irazusando?

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Bleach is finally back with its second cour of the Thousand-Year Blood War anime, and the fight between Quincy and the Shinigami is finally heating up. Now, while the Gotei 13 are facing another invasion of the Seireitei, this time within the Wandenreich itself, Ichigo Kurosaki is continuing his training in the Soul King Palace above the Seireitei. After being recovered and fed by Tenjiro Kirinji and Kirio Hikifune, respectively, and having his Zanpakuto restored by Oetsu Nimaiya, Ichigo, like Renji and Rukia before him, proceeded to Ichibei’s palace to train with him. There, Ichibei said that he wanted him to become more than a Soul Reaper and sent him to a strange place that is seemingly called Irazusando. What is Irazusando, and what does the name itself mean? Keep reading to find out.

Irazusando, when written in kanji (不参道), means “Road of no Entry,” referring to a road that leads to a shrine, which makes sense, seeing that Ichigo is on his way to a shrine gate. It is part of Ichigo’s training with Ichibei where he needs to surpass the level of a regular Soul Reaper, thus potentially becoming the vessel for the Soul King, as Ichibei planned and Kyoraku suspected. Irazusando could be the name of the place he is currently in and/or, as Kubo suggested, the name of the Soul King himself.

The rest of this article will explain the new scene from the Bleach anime that was not present in the original manga and is related to the name Irazusando seen on Ichibei’s scroll. We will tell you what the name means and what it could be referring to potentially. If you’re not fully up-to-date with the anime and the manga, we must warn you that this article might contain some spoilers.

Irazusando has a meaning, but it doesn’t have to be that straightforward

As we usually do when we have to explain the meaning of some Japanese words, names, or phrases in our articles here on Fiction Horizon, we are going to strip the phrase down to its bare essentials so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with. The phrase Irazusando, which actually does have a meaning and is not just a meaningless phrase, is, in Japanese, written as follows: 不参道. As you can see, the name itself consists of four different kanji combined in one phrase that reads “Road of no Entry.” We are now going to analyze these kanji:

  1. 不 (zu) – this kanji means “no-” or “non-” and is used to signify a negation (this kanji is read “zu” sometimes, and while it is written first in the phrase, its reading is actually second – it should be Zuirasando if you read them in the proper order – but this is probably just artistic freedom);
  2. (ira) – this kanji means “to enter” and is best known for being part of the verb “hairu” (る), which means exactly that;
  3. 参 (san) – this kanji has a lot of meanings (its best-known one is “carrot”), but in this case, it probably refers to the Buddhist concept of a gathering;
  4. 道 (do) – this kanji means “road” or “path” and is commonly read as machi when alone and do when part of another word.

So, as you can see, the phrase, if we simply combined the individual kanji would read “no-entry gathering road,” which doesn’t make too much sense. But if you know that the term “sando” (参道) is used to describe a road leading to a shrine, then the whole phrase gets a completely new meaning and can be translated as “Path of No Entry” or, in full, “The Road to the Shrine of No Entry.”

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Now, seeing where Ichigo is and what happened to him, this translation makes a lot of sense, but since Irazusando is a completely original concept introduced in the anime, it might have a deeper meaning.

Irazusando could be connected with a much darker plan of Ichibei’s

Now that you know what the phrase means, we can actually describe what happened. First, read this:

“It begins, but does not end.
Names wither in the silence.
In an abyss of rolling clouds.
Raindrops fill an empty vessel.

Those who are unworthy to be a vessel
succumb to its weight as it turns to stone.

It breaks apart and turns to gravel.
Pounding rain reduces it to dust.

For such a vessel, there is no way out.

But if one does not enter, there is no path.

Those who are about to perish all it… Irazusando.”

This is a poem recited by Ichibei Hyosube from a scroll while Ichigo was walking in the strange space Ichibei had sent him to train. Now, before he sent him there, Ichibei Hyosube said to Ichigo that he wanted to make him surpass the level of power of a Shinigami, to become something much stronger, as in his current state, he would not be able to defeat Yhwach.

Now, Ichibei’s training was the toughest as the density of the Reishi in his palace was the biggest; this was already seen with Renji and Rukia, who likewise experienced issues while adapting to Ichibei’s Reichi, similarly to what Ichigo experienced when he was sent by Ichibei to that strange place (although Renji and Rukia were never in that place, they remained in the palace).

Now, while everyone assumed that Ichibei was helping Ichigo to become strong, it seems – and the poem he recited suggests exactly that – that there was also a darker plan behind this training.

This is also connected to Kyoraku’s earlier realization. Namely, Kyoraku realized that Ichigo could become too powerful, which is when he also realized that with such a power, he could be a trouble to his home realm, the World of the Living, which is not actually used to housing so much Spiritual Power. Realizing that Kyoraku made his way to Ichigo’s friends and provided them with Soul Tickets in case Ichigo would have to remain in Soul Society.

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Now, we know from the Can’t Fear Your Own World that Ichibei had a backup plan in case the original one failed, and that was to kill Ichigo and turn him into the new Soul King, which is something that Kyoraku deduced, saying that he was glad that it did not have to come to that; Ichibei expressed his satisfaction as well, but he knew very well that he would have done it to protect the Soul Society and other realms. It is quite possible that Kyoraku, as we’ve said, realized this from the start, and that is why he gave the Soul Tickets to Ichigo’s human friends.

So, seeing the poem Ichibei recited and what Ichigo’s training looked like, it could very well be that the power above that of a Shinigami that Ichibei mentioned referred to the power of the Soul King. We’ve come to understand that the Soul King is not a completely unique being and that he can be replaced – the symbol remains, but the actual Soul King is quite… flexible – so, based on that, we can assume that a powerful enough being would be able to replace him.

This is why Yhwach’s fusion with the original Soul King was used to rebuild the ruler of Soul Society after the war. And while everyone though that Ichibei was simply helping Ichigo, it now seems that he was – by helping him – also preparing for a horrible scenario in which Ichigo would have to become the new Soul King.

So, based on that, we can deduce that Irazusando can be one or both of these things. Irazusando could refer to the place Ichigo is currently training in. It makes sense, as the poem recited perfectly describes Ichigo’s journey and the fact that, as soon as he showed a sign of weakness, the shrine’s gate moved further away from him perfectly fits.

On top of that, the phrase’s literal translation suggests exactly that, as it could very well be that the shrine Ichigo would enter is called the No Entry Shrine, which would make up for a very symbolic fit.

The other theory is based on a thing that Kubo supposedly said, and that could be seen on some forums around the Internet; namely, according to these rumors, Tite Kubo said that the real name of the Soul King would be revealed in the anime (as it was not revealed in the manga).

In that aspect, Irazusando could actually be the name of the Soul King, and the poem, as well as the training, could actually be part of the process of creating a new vessel for the Soul King, which would also make sense (this would also explain why Rukia and Renji were not in that place).

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Ultimately, the anime will reveal the meaning of Irazusando, and it could very well be that both these theories are true in the end.

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