2016-01-14

bikuni Buddhist nun legends

- BACK to the Daruma Museum -
. Japanese legends and tales 伝説 民話 昔話 - Introduction .
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bikuni densetsu 比丘尼 伝説 Legends about Buddhist nuns
ama 尼 nun




tako bikuni 蛸比丘尼 the Octopus nun

. bikuni 比丘尼 Buddhist Nuns .
- Introduction -
- - - - - including
heoi bikuni, he-oi bikuni 屁負比丘尼 / 屁負比丘 fart-pretending nuns
uta bikuni 歌比丘尼 singing nun
bikuni 比丘尼 prostitutes clad as nuns in Edo
Kumano bikuni 熊野比丘尼 nun from Kumano

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sennen bikuni 千年比丘尼 a young nun for 1000 years
never growing old, because once she ate the meat of a "human-fish"


The "human fish" 人魚 (ningyo) is most probably a Dugong.
Whoever eats its meat will live for 1000 years without changing his/her features.
- source : Dugong dugon -

A young woman eats a piece of fish found in the left-overs of her father, a fisherman.
When she learns about the fact that it was a "human fish" she decides to become a nun to atone for her deed. And then . . .

There are many legends about her in many parts of Japan, after all she lived for 1000 years with the features of a beautiful woman. When she stayed at a temple for a while, people became suspicious of her never-changing beautiful features and eventually she had to leave for another place. Often she planted a walking stick in the temple compound before leaving, which sprouted to live on . . .



Yashima Kameyama 八島亀山 in Okayama 岡山
After the young woman had left her birthplace . . there was a young man from Kameyama, who visited the temple 善光寺 Zenko-Ji in Nagano, where he saw a beautiful nun in the temple and told her about Kameyama、so she became quite homesick. When he went back and told the story to the fishermen in Kameyama they went to the back of Mount Boyama 坊山 and found the remains of her old small temple. There was also an old tree, byakushin ビャクシン / 柏槙 (a kind of mountain juniper) to our day, which had sprouted from her walking stick.
This tree was then found to have a disease infecting the Japanese pear trees nearby and was cut down eventually.

In Asakuchi 浅口, Okayama in the hamlet of 貞見 Sadami
there is another tree that has sprouted from her walking stick. It has sprouted, as she had foretold, "tsue wa ikitsuku made" 杖は活き着くまで. . . and now there is another hamlet with a pun on that nearby :
Tsukuma 津熊 .
The tree that sprouted from her stick was a huge yanagi 大柳 willow tree.
It was so strong and perfect that the tree was cut down and its trunck became a beam for the famous 三十三間堂, 京都 Hall of 1000 Buddha Statues in Kyoto, Sanjusan Gendo.

. Legends about the roof beams for 三十三間堂 Sanjusan Gendo .

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hyakunen bikuni 百年比丘尼 nun for 100 years

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yao bikuni 八百比丘尼(やおびくに)nun for 800 years

- quote -
One of the most famous folk stories concerning ningyo is called
Yao Bikuni (八百比丘尼, "eight-hundred (years) Buddhist priestess") or
ハッピャクビクニ Happyaku Bikuni.

The story tells how a fisherman who lived in Wakasa Province once caught an unusual fish. In all his years fishing, he had never seen anything like it, so he invited his friends over to sample its meat.

One of the guests, however, peeked into the kitchen, noticed that the head of this fish had a human face, and warned the others not to eat it. So when the fisherman finished cooking and offered his guests the ningyo's grilled flesh, they secretly wrapped it in paper and hid it on their persons so that it could be discarded on the way home.

But one man, drunk on sake, forgot to throw the strange fish away. This man had a little daughter, who demanded a present when her father arrived home, and he carelessly gave her the fish. Coming to his senses, the father tried to stop her from eating it, fearing she would be poisoned, but he was too late and she finished it all. But as nothing particularly bad seemed to happen to the girl afterwards, the man did not worry about it for long.

Years passed, and the girl grew up and was married. But after that she did not age any more; she kept the same youthful appearance while her husband grew old and died. After many years of perpetual youth and being widowed again and again, the woman became a nun and wandered through various countries. Finally she returned to her hometown in Wakasa, where she ended her life at an age of 800 years.



ningyo (人魚, "human fish", often translated as "mermaid")
is a fish-like creature from Japanese folklore.
Anciently, it was described with a monkey’s mouth with small teeth like a fish’s, shining golden scales, and a quiet voice like a skylark or a flute. Its flesh is pleasant-tasting, and anyone who eats it will attain remarkable longevity. However, catching a ningyo was believed to bring storms and misfortune, so fishermen who caught these creatures were said to throw them back into the sea. A ningyo washed onto the beach was an omen of war or calamity.
..... gyojin 魚人 fish-man, human fish
- More about ningyo Ningyo (人魚) "human fish" :
- source : wikipedia -

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Yao Bikuni 八百比丘尼(やおびくに)
金川寺 Kinsen-Ji in Fukushima -
喜多方市塩川町金橋字金川
- source : bqspot.com/tohoku/fukushima -

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Shiira bikuni シイラ比丘尼 The Nun Shiira



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Iwate, 釜石 Kamaishi - and Miyagi 南三陸町 Minami Sanriku

One day a fisherman went fishing near Hiraizumi, when a strange old man living in a cave gave him a strange red fish to eat.
His companion 五郎三郎 Gorosaburo did not eat the fish meat but took it home with him and told everyone not to eat it. His young daughter of 6 years named シイラ Shiira was so tempted to eat this meat, she did not listen to her father's warning and ate it.
After this Shiira never died and lived as a nun for at least 200 years. Now nobody knows where she is.
The old man is said to have been 海尊仙人 Kaison Sennin.

After the death of 平泉の秀衡 Lord Hidehira in Hiraizumi, his retainer Gorosaburo took his life to follow his master, as was the custom of the times.
The wife of Gorosaburo took their young daughter Shiira and hid at 本吉郡の竹島 Takeshima Island in the Motoyoshi district.
The Heavenly Nymph at the Cave of the same name at Takeshima island 竹島の天女洞 refers to the girl Shiira, who lived more than 250 years, always looking like a woman in her forties.


Togura 戸倉 - Takeshima 竹島
Different from the other islands in the inlay, this island is of a soft white rock.

shiira 鱰/鱪 / シイラ is the name of the common dolphin, Coryphaena hippurus.


. Hitachibo Kaison Sennin 常陸坊海尊仙人 .


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- - - - - ABC List of the prefectures :

.................................................................. Aichi 愛知県 ....................................................................
知多郡 Chita gun 南知多町 Minami Chita

yao bikuni 八百比丘尼 a nun for 800 years

Once upon a time in the Heian period
a young woman ate a piece of meat from a "human fish" . . . and had to live for 800 years as a young beauty.
She walked around in many parts of Japan . . .


.................................................................. Niigata 新潟県 ....................................................................
Sado, 相川町 Aikawa

. happyaku bikuniハッピャクビクニ and 猿田彦大神 Sarutahiko .

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- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
yokai database - bikuni (54 entries)
血まみれの比丘尼
八百比丘尼
断食の比丘尼 and many more
- source : www.nichibun.ac.jp -

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manga nihon mukashibanashi database
鏡騒動
耳柿
ドジョウ取り爺さん
八百比丘尼
- source : nihon.syoukoukai.com -

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. Legends about Kobo Daishi Kukai - 弘法大師 空海 - 伝説 .

. Japanese legends and tales 伝説 民話 昔話 - Introduction .

- Yookai 妖怪 Yokai Monsters of Japan -
- Introduction -

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. Join the friends on Facebook ! .

- #bikunilegends -
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