Born into a samurai family, Gonbei followed his father's wishes and became a farmer. Since he was unaccustomed to farm work, whenever he plowed the fields and sowed seeds, crows and small birds would immediately eat the seeds. People laughed at him, but he never gave up; he kept trying. Eventually he became the best farmer in the village. Gonbei is also known to have been a crack shot with a gun, and to the delight of the other villagers, famously shooting the wild beasts that destroyed the crops.
One day, Gonbei heard of a large snake attacking people near Magose-toge Pass, and so he decided to get rid of it.
Entering the mountains, he concealed his body with fern leaves and waited. Suddenly, a huge snake with its mouth agape came straight to attack Gonbei. He quickly prayed to the Zumbera Stone, which grew enormous, and Gonbei hid behind it. He fired three shots into the vital areas of the snake's body and killed it. Tragically, however, Gonbei died from the snake's venom despite the villagers' efforts to nurse him back to health. Nevertheless, having battled the snake on behalf of the villagers, Gonbei is remembered as a village hero, and even today the Tanemaki Gonbei Matsuri (Festival) is celebrated in his memory at Gonbei's family temple, Hosen-ji in the Binnoyama District of Kihoku Town.