List Of Local Legends And Folktales


Kasagi Sight-Seeing Navigation(Additional Information Of Kasagi )

◇List Of Local Legends And Folktales◇

◆Ishiate Jizo (Stone Statue Punished By Stone-Throwing)<From the Chief Priest of Kasagi Temple >

   A Jizo Stone Statue called “Ishiate Jizo” had been worshipped by the side of the road running between Kasagi Town and Yagyu Town.  This small monument has a unique story as follows.

   During Genko’s revolt, the Hojo soldiers of the Kamakura Shogunate once were chasing Emperor Godaigo to capture him. 

   Terribly threatened by a katana sword, a local villager confessed to the soldiers, “The Emperor is hiding himself on Mount Kasagi.”  What’s worse, this villager said to the armed forces, “You can reach the mountaintop through this path,” showing the correct direction.  As a result, Hojo’s soldiers could attack Emperor Godaigo, capturing him and burning Mount Kasagi.

   After this incident, other villagers blamed this traitor for their emperors’ loss, crying, “You are to blame for this misfortune.”  Cursing him, villagers decided to cut a lump of stone into a jizo figure which resembled this betrayer.  They also decided to throw stones at this statue to show their anger.

   Whenever people passed through this spot, they threw stones at this jizo.  In the long run, a huge number of stones had piled up, so the jizo statue couldn’t be seen any more.

   After some time, there was construction work to widen the road.  When the piles of stones were removed, people found there to be nothing but a pedestal.  With no statue on it!

   It seems that villagers had made the pedestal, but refrained from making the jizo.  This was because jizos have been regarded as sacred objects for worship.

   Ishiate Jizo, which in reality is not a statue but only its pedestal, still remains untouched by the side of the widened road.

◆Shikasagi-Yama No Miroku-Sama (Maitreya on Mount Shikasagi) <From the Chief Priest of Kasagi Temple >

   This is a story from the era when Emperor Tenmu was still called Imperial Prince Oama.

   One day Prince Oama went hunting for deer with his attendants in Yamashiro-no-Sato, which we currently call Yamashiro District, the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture.  So absorbed in hunting, he became lost deep in the mountain range and separated from his staff.

   The prince, riding on a horse, nearly fell down from a precipitous cliff.  At that moment, he prayed, “God of this mountain!  Please help me!  If you save me, I will carve a Maitreya of you into this huge rock.”  As a result, he is said to have been able to escape from that crisis. 

   Prince Oama left his kasa, a straw hat, at this place to mark where his life had been saved.  On the following day, he visited that area again, searching for his kasa.  A snow heron appeared, leading him to his kasa.

   Prince tried to carve the Maitreya on the surface of the rock.  However, he realized how difficult it was to carve into such a surface.  Suddenly, a celestial being appeared from heaven to help him carve a magnificent Maitreya Bodhisattva.

   The name of Shika-Sagi-Yama (Mount Deer Heron) originated from this traditional story of the deer and heron that the prince had encountered.  The stone which the prince had put his kasa on was called Kasagi Ishi, literally meaning “a stone where a straw hat was put.  From this folktale, the present name of “Kasagi” was derived.

◆Enma Daio Karano Okurimono (Gift from Yama, the King of Hell) <From the Chief Priest of Kasagi Temple >

    Long time ago, at Kasagi Temple on Mount Kasagi lived a prominent priest called Gedatsu Shonin.  It is said that even animals such as deer in Nara knelt down on their knees and put their heads down to express respect for his high virtue.

   Though he was a high-ranking priest eligible to wear purple clothes, Gedatsu Shonin continued to clothe in dyed-black clothing all his life. 

   One day the soil in front of the temple’s entrance exploded and a big pit appeared.  Then an ogre jumped out of the southwestern corner.  The ogre knelt down before the Shonin and said as follows:

    “Yama, the King of Hell, is calling you, sir.  He is anxious to listen to your sermon.  Come at once, sir.”

   Gedatsu Shonin was amazed to hear it and exclaimed, “What!  The King of Hell needs my sermon?  My mission is to spread the teachings of Buddha.  I will go anywhere,” said the Shonin, as he entered the pit with the ogre. 

   The pit led to Hell, where lots of Ogres stood in line holding metal rods.  In the middle of the line, Yama, the King of Hell, was sitting with sharp eyes.  Gedatsu Shonin started to preach Buddha’s teachings and told his truth.

       “I was able to listen to your heart-warming preaching at last.  Don’t you have any requests, Shonin?” said the King. 

       “I want to make a bell for my temple,” answered Shonin.

       “I got it.  I will grant your request,” said the King.  He generously gave Shonin Enbudagon (the most precious gold).

   After returning from Hell, Shonin went to Todaiji Temple and asked Shunjyoubou-Chougen, the chief priest of Todaiji Temple, to cast a temple bell with Yama’s gold.  The chief priest made a gold bell for him.

   It is a unique bell because it has 6 slits along its edge.  There is no other such temple bell in Japan.  This bell has been kept safely as a treasure of Kasagi Temple. 

Yome-Tori Jizo (Bride-Stealing Jizo) <From “Touring Yamashiro -- Yamashiro Folktale3”, in JA Yamashiro Booklet >

   Kasagi, Kyoto is located in the vicinity of Yagyu, Nara.  People of both villages were friendly enough to visit each other frequently by way of a road called Yagyu Kaido, which connects both villages.  There have also been marriages uniting families from the villages. 

   There was a huge rock near the border of the villages on Yagyu Kado.  On that rock a statue of a handsome jizo had been carved.  Yomeiri Gyoretu, a wedding parade, which was supposed to bring the bride to her husband’s house, always took this road passing that handsome jizo. 

    However, brides who had passed in front of that jizo had unfortunate destinies.  For example, their spouses died at early ages or the couples divorced.  Eventually, this jizo came to be named Yome-Tori Jizo, meaning Bride-Stealing Jizo.  All the wedding parades decided not to pass in front of this jizo statue. 

   Originally, jizo was thought to be a bachelor.  That is why this jizo got jealous at every wedding, looking at the beautiful bride or so, the local people thought.  Though the distance between Kasagi and Yagyu is quite short, wedding parades had to take long detours.  For brides, their detoured parades were too painstaking in their formal wedding clothes which were very thick and heavy.

   One day a young, cheerful girl was on her way to getting married with a man in Kasagi.  All of her family and relatives advised her to make a detour.  However, she insisted, “The story of Yome-Tori Jizo is nothing but a superstition!  I shall take Yagyu Kaido with the jealous jizo watching.”  

    “What an inauspicious thing you are saying!  What would you do if something miserable happened about your wedding?”   Her parents tried hard to change her mind, but she was so obstinate that everyone had to respect her wishes.

   When her wedding parade was about to pass in front of Yometori Jizo, her relatives hit upon the idea that they should veil the bride with a large furoshiki cloth, which was used to wrap bridal bedclothes and other belongings.  They hoped that the jizo could not recognize the bride. 

   They could not prove whether it had been thanks to their idea or not, but that couple is reported to have had an exceptionally long and happy life together, nearly reaching ninety years of age. 

◆Momiji Densetsu (Maple Legend) <From Local People>

   In 1331, the Emperor’s second plot to overthrow the Kamakura Bakuhu (the Japanese feudal government) was discovered beforehand, due to his aide Yoshida Sadafusa’s betrayal.  As his arrest was about to be conducted, the Emperor tried to escape, pretending to go up to Mount Hiei.  In fact, Emperor Godaigo secretly fled to the Southern House of Todaiji Temple by passing over Mount Jubuzan, located between Ujitawara Town and Wazuka Town.  This peak is the highest mountain in the Minami-Yamashiro Region.

   Unfortunately, in Todaiji Temple there were spies loyal to the Kamakura Bakuhu.  So he moved to Mount Kasagi and stayed there.  Mount Kasagi was said to have been a natural stronghold protected by the Kizu River and steep mountainous paths.  Though the number of the Emperor’s soldiers was only one thirtieth of the Bakuhu’s soldiers, the Emperors’ corps fought bravely, taking full advantage of the terrain.  In the end, however, the Shogunate’s powerful forces surrounded and captured Emperor Godaigo.  This historical incident is called Genko’s Revolt.


       “Ukarikeru   Mio Akikazeni Sasowarete  Omowanu Yamano Momiji Ozo Miru”

      This poem was written by Emperor Godaigo, as he was surrounded by the opposing forces.


      “My dream could not be achieved.  As I suffer this pain, a gentle autumnal breeze kindly invites me into the forest.  How sorrowful it

       is to see elegantly-colored maple leaves in the midst of my despair!”     (Takagi Takashi “Shinshaku Zokyo” published by Shubunkan)


   What has been enshrined at Koishidani Jinja (Koishidani Shrine), which is located near Minami-Yamashiro Village, is a court lady who loved Emperor Godaigo.  Worrying about the Emperor as he fled to Mount Kasagi, she dared to meet him here, leaving her home in Ise, in spite of her suffering from a serious illness.  Unfortunately, Emperor Godaigo had already moved to another hiding place to escape from the opposing army. 

   Disappointed to learn that she had no chance to see the Emperor, she killed herself, leaving behind her will, stating that she would become a guardian deity for women who have been pining with unrequited love.  Sympathizing with her, the local people erected a shrine to her, giving her the name Koishidani San (Ms. Koishidani).  This was because she kept repeating, “Koishii, Koishii” (“My beloved Emperor, my beloved Emperor”) until her death. 

   We can admire maple leaves Emperor Godaigo gazed upon as he was surrounded. Koishidani San must have also admired the same leaves as she yearned for him. 

   One legend states that if a pair of lovers plant maple seeds and grow them with the utmost care, they can make their love deeper and stronger.

   If you look closely at a maple seed, you will see that it is heart-shaped.



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