After being defeated by Yhwach and having Bankai broken by Jugram, Ichigo Kurosaki was taken to the Soul King’s Palace by the Royal Guard, where he started his recovery and training. He was first healed by Tenjiro Kirinji in his palace, after which he, Renji, and Kon went to Kirio Hikifune’s palace to eat and regain their energy. After that, Oetsu Nimaiya reforged his sword (although it was a complex procedure), after which he went to Ichibei’s palace to train (don’t worry, he will later visit Senjumaru as well). This article will focus on the part of his training with Ichibei, as he was sent to a special place to hone his Pressure. In this article, you will find out what that training consists of and what the pressure Ichigo is feeling actually is.
Ichibei’s training, as seen in both the cases of Rukia and Renji and Ichigo, consists of a Shinigami honing their skills to adapt to powerful Spiritual Pressure in Ichibei’s palace. But Ichigo was also sent to a special place where he had to reach the gates of a shrine by adapting to even stronger pressure, which made it difficult for him to even walk. If he stumbled at any one point, the shrine would simply move further away, making Ichigo’s job even more difficult.
This article will focus on Ichigo Kurosaki’s training with Ichibei Hyosube in his special palace, as he was sent to a location where he had to reach the gates of a shrine while enduring immense spiritual pressure. This article is going to contain many spoilers, both in terms of past and future events in Bleach, so we had to prepare you for that aspect of this article. The article will tell you all you need to know about this issue, so you’ll know exactly what happened in that aspect.
Ichibei’s training doesn’t require much versatility, but it is the most difficult of all
After Yhwach’s first invasion, Ichigo was left defeated by the Quincy ruler and without his Zanpakuto, which Jugram Haschwalth had broken. After Mayuri told him that a broken Bankai cannot be restored, he was taken to meet the Royal Guard, who promised to heal and reforge a new blade. He was then taken to the Soul King’s Palace to begin his training.
He was first brought to Tenjiro Kirinji’s palace, where he was treated alongside Byakuya Kuchiki in his hot springs. There, Ichigo proved his strength by recovering rather swiftly, shocking even Kirinji. After that, he and Renji traveled to Kirio Hikifune’s palace, where their training consisted of consuming a lot of food that had been especially prepared to replenish their Reiatsu (Kon joined them here). After finishing there, they proceeded to Oetsu Nimaiya’s palace despite being forewarned about Nimaiya’s strangeness and unpredictability.
And while Ichigo finally failed this test and was taken home, where he learned the truth from his father, Renji immediately recovered his Zanpakuto. Isshin revealed to him what had happened to his mother and his true nature and abilities. Knowing the truth, Ichigo returned to Nimaiya’s palace, where he passed the exam and received a brand-new Zanpakuto from Nimaiya. While Byakuya also fully healed, much to Tenjiro’s delight, Renji and Rukia continued to practice with Ichibei.
After completing his training with Nimaiya, Ichigo went to Ichibei Hyosube and started his preparation to advance beyond the level of a typical Shinigami. He was taken to a particular location (which Kubo chose to include in the anime), apparently, a road leading to a shrine, where the spiritual pressure was so intense that Ichigo had to exert all of his efforts just to walk.
His objective was to go to the shrine’s gates, but if he made a mistake, they would get further away from him. The details of this training were never made clear explicitly, but a poem recited by Ichibei while Ichigo was training makes it somewhat clearer:
“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.”
As we’ve already talked about Irazusando, we won’t be explaining that here, but we can use this poem to explain what Ichibei’s training consists of. As we’ve said above, Ichigo obviously has to reach the shrine gates; at this moment, we don’t really know if there is more after that since this is a portion of the story that has not been in the manga, so we’ll consider that reaching the gates is the ultimate goal.
So, Ichigo has to take the path in a place where the spiritual pressure is so hard that it makes it difficult to breathe and walk. As the poem suggests, the spiritual pressure keeps falling on the trainee like rain, thus constantly making it more and more difficult. This is why each new step is more and more difficult. But, there is a catch (of course there is).
Namely, if Ichigo falters for even a second due to the pressure, the gates will move further away, as we’ve seen in the second episode of the second cour of episodes. Ichigo, thus, has to accommodate himself to such immense pressure and reach the gates, and he will then be able to say that he’s passed Ichibei’s training.
But what if he fails? Does he simply leave? Well, as the poem suggests, he will be turned into stone. We don’t know if it is real or symbolic, as Ichigo is going to pass the test, but it definitely is one of the more interesting aspects of his training.