2016-08-08

keyaki zelkova tree legends

- BACK to the Daruma Museum -
. Japanese legends and tales 伝説 民話 昔話 - Introduction .
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keyaki 欅と伝説 Legends about the Zelkova tree

. keyaki karu 欅枯る(けやきかる)withering zelkova tree .
- kigo for all winter -


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Keyaki is a very special tree, often venerated as a ritual tree of the gods, 欅神木 shinboku.

- quote -
Zelkova serrata (Japanese zelkova, Japanese elm or keyaki; Japanese: 欅 (ケヤキ) keyaki / 槻 (ツキ) tsuki)
is a species of flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, eastern China and Taiwan. It is often grown as an ornamental tree, and used in bonsai.
- more in the wikipedia -


. 箪笥 Tansu: Traditional Japanese Cabinetry .
Many are made of Keyaki wood.
The wood is very strong and was also suited for making wooden nails, which were used by the traditional carpenters.

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dotei no gyooja 土定の行者 / ドテイノギョウシャ an ascetic burried in the ground

In the autumn of 1817 a huge Keyaki tree suddenly fell down and in the hole in the ground a 石櫃 stone sacrophagus appeared. From inside there was a voice heard reciting the holy Sutras and ringing a bell. This must have been the Saint Ascetic who was burried there alive about 150 years earlier.
The long line of visitors coming here to pray lasted until the winter of that year.

. Sokushinbutsu 即身仏 the Living Mummies of Japan .
土定 (dojoo) - Others offered their life in a fire 火定 (kajoo) or in water 水定 (suijoo).

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- - - - - ABC List of the prefectures :

.......................................................................... Aichi 愛知県 ......................................
北設楽郡 Kitashitara 設楽町 Shitara

穴瀧という瀑布があり、近くに大蛇の遊木と言われた大欅があった。ある時、ある男が大欅を切り倒そうとした。すると美女が現れて名残惜しそうに立っていた。男はそのまま仕事を続けていたが、ふと大蛇の化身ではないかと思いついた。急に戦慄を覚え家に逃げ帰ったが、病床に臥してそのまま死んでしまった。


.......................................................................... Akita 秋田県 ......................................

. Gyokuzooji 玉蔵寺 Gyokuzo-Ji .
The main hall has been erected in 1983, with stems from precious old keyaki zelkova trees 神代欅.


.......................................................................... Fukui 福井県 ......................................
今立郡 Imadate district 池田町 Ikeda

Daishogun no Mori 大将軍の森
There was a Zelkova tree surrounded with Tsuta ivy, venerated by a family nearby.
In 1951 this tree was felled and soon after the family died out.

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Once there was a Sake brewer in the village. At night, from the nearby Zelkova tree, a 天狗Tengu sneeked in with a paper lantern and begun to drink the new Sake, slurping happily. When the brewer heard this sound, ne knew that he had made a good rice wine that time and was grateful to the Tengu.

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遠敷郡 Onyu district 上中町 / 名田庄村 Natasho

tsurube otoshi 釣瓶落し "throwing a well-bucket"
Once there was a large Zelkova tree and when someone passed it by night, a well-bucket fell down from the tree top and hurt the person. So to our day it is called the "Well-Bucket Throwing Tree" and people do not dare to pass here at night.

tsurube otoshi is also a kigo for all autumn, referring to a fast sunset,
lit. "the sun goes down like a bucket in the well"
. nichibotsu 日没 sunset, evening sun .



CLICK for Keyaki trees from Fukui !


.......................................................................... Fukushima 福島県 ......................................
南会津郡 Minami Aizu district 檜枝岐村 Hinoemata

shihoogatame no ki 四方がための木 shiho-gatame, four trees to appease the four directions
and protect a village from evil influence. These trees are not to be cut.
If someone cuts them they will leek red blood and moan and groan like a wounded human.

In the East in the Keyaki tree 東にけやき.
南に唐松 South: Karamatsu - 北に黒松 North: Kuromatsu - 西に赤松 West: Akamatsu


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いわき市 Iwaki

Kuramochi Mishima Hachiman 蔵持三島八幡
蔵持に里という美しい少女(未亡人という説もあり)がいて、たそがれに軒端で歌っていた。その声に寄せられて毎夜同じ時刻に若者がたずねてきた。そのころ、村人が蔵持三島八幡境内にあるえのき(神白村ぼんてん山の大けやきという説も)を切り倒してお里の家の近くに橋をかける話をまとめた。毎夜お里を訪ねてきた若者は、悲しそうに今夜限りで会えないといって帰った。村人たちがその木を切ると、血が流れ出た。ようやく切り倒して運ぼうとしても動かない。お里を呼んで歌を歌わせ、音頭をとらせたら、木は自分から動き出した。その夜から若者の姿はみられなくなった。この橋を里也橋という。
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さとや橋の南にあった大きなけやきの木を切って橋をかけようとすると、木から血が出て、倒すのに7日間もかかった。ところが重くて動かない。お里という女に木やり節を歌わせたら軽々運べた。

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大沼郡 Onuma district 金山町 Kaneya

八町のだだ坊 Hatcho no Dadabo Tanuki
At the local shrine of Hatcho village there lived a strange monster called Dadabo , which would often eat children. So the villagers asked 中井坊 the blind priest Nakai to drive away the monster.
The blind priest placed a すり鉢 mortar on his head, grabbed a howe and a mallet and went to the Shrine. He threw the monster into the mortar and hit it with the hoe and mallet until it begun to bleed and run away.
Next morning the villagers followed the blood and game to a hole under the Zelkova tree near the shrine. They found 古狸 a bleeding tanuki badger without much hair. They killed it and made some Tanuki soup out of the meat.
From that day on, the monster never showed up.

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田村郡 Tamura district 小野町 Ono

A few years go someone found a straw doll hammered into the stem of the Zelkova tree in the shrine compound. That is quite astonishing for our century.

. wara ningyoo 藁人形 straw dolls for curses .


.......................................................................... Gunma 群馬県 ......................................

上州一ノ宮貫前神社 Shinshu Ichi no Miya Nuisaki Jinja
敗戦近くの頃、上州一ノ宮貫前神社の欅の神木に蛙の形の茸が生え、神木に宿る軍神が怒って現れたものと言われた。さらに、大戦果時には大きくなり、玉砕などの時はしぼんだとか、敗戦直前には蛙に蛇が巻きついた形になったなどという話にまで発展した。


.......................................................................... Ibaraki 茨城県 ......................................

Once at 常陸 Hitachi a shabby looking monk begged at a home for a lodging, but was refused. When the master of the home later found out that it was Kobo Daishi, he climbed on a large 欅 zelkova tree and called out for the monk to come back.
弘法様よーい、弘法様よーい Kooboo sama yoooi, kooboosama yooi
Eventually the man turned into a 蝉 cicada calling ちばひめ chibahime.


source : otafuku.cocolog-nifty.com
若宮八幡宮の大けやき The Keyaki zelkova tree in the compound of the shrine Wakamiya Hachimangu in Hitachi Ota 常陸太田市.

It is said that to our day the cicadas of the region come to this tree on the 23rd of July (this is the day when Kobo Daishi is supposed to have passed here).

. Kōbō Daishi Kūkai 弘法大師 空海 - 伝説  Kobo Daishi Kukai Legends .

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茨城町 Ibaraki Town

諏訪大社 Suwa Taisha
お諏訪様の欅の上辺りに、大きな提灯が下がっていて、これは、むじなのいたずらだと言われた。春先のことだった。

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tamase, hitodama 人魂
A bluish-white fireball 火の玉 fell down to the ground near a Zelkova tree.
The local folks called this tamase タマセ(魂) (tamashi) a soul.



.......................................................................... Ishikawa 石川県 ......................................
能美郡 Nomi district 川北村 Kawakita

Tengu 天狗
During the Meiji period, a boy named サク Saku got lost and was missing. His parents called out for two nights:
「鯖食うたサク」 saba kuuta saku
(Saku has been eating mackerels)
(It is said that the Tengu dislikes mackerels!)
And then found him sleeping in the store house.
He told them he had been caught by a Tengu and spent the time as prisoner in the branches of a Zelkova tree. Eventually the Tengu had let him down.

. Tengu 天狗と伝説 Tengu legends "Long-nosed Goblin" .

鯖 天狗 / 天狗は鯖が苦手 / 天狗の鯖ぎらい
Saba and Tengu comes with more legends on its own.
. saba 鯖と伝説 Legends about mackerel, Makrele .



.......................................................................... Iwate 岩手県 ......................................
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岩手県花巻市東和町北成島5-1 Hanamaki


source : hidemichitanaka.net

成島毘沙門天 Narushima Bishamonten
The largest statue in Tohoku, made from one stem of keyaki wood, 4.73 meters high.
. Bishamon-Ten 毘沙門天 Bishamonten (Vaishravana) .


.......................................................................... Kyoto 京都府 ......................................

There is a keyaki 欅 zelkova tree in 亀岡市 Kameoka that was planted by Abe no Seimei.
If people want to cut it or hurt it, they will be cursed.
. Abe no Seimei 阿倍晴明 (921 - 1005) .


.......................................................................... Miyagi 宮城県 ......................................
黒川郡 Kurokawa district 大和町 Taiwa

kasa ni baketa mujina 笠に化けた狢
吉岡館主但木土佐より前の時代の話。宇古館地内に欅の大木があった。ある夜一人の若者がそこを通ると枝に饅頭笠が懸かっていたので,怪しんで笠の紐を掴み,地面に叩き付けるとそれは笠に化けた狢であった。亡骸を埋めた所を近年までキンタマ塚などと呼んでいたが,今は自衛隊キャンプ敷地になっている。

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仙台市 Sendai 青葉区 Aoba

Tennozuka 天皇塚 Mound of the Emperor
On a hill near the 阿弥陀堂 Amidado hall there were the huge roots of a Zelkova tree. People say that the gibutsu 御物 imperial treasures of 安徳天皇 Antoku Tenno are burried here.
Many woman come here to pray for an easy birth.

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柴田郡 Shibata district 村田町

Yamato Takeru 日本武尊
At the shrine Shirotori Jinja 白鳥神社の祭神は日本武尊。境内に、今も二条の大藤がからみつく大欅がある。源頼義父子は前九年の役に際してこの境内に宿陣し、夢に祭神が現れ大勝した。戦いの初め、官軍が苦戦した時、この藤が二頭の大蛇となって敵を敗走させたという。

. Yamato Takeru 日本武尊 / 倭健命 - Introduction .


.......................................................................... Nagano 長野県 ......................................
東筑摩郡 Higashichikuma district 麻績村 Omi

At the shrine of the hamlet Kanori 叶里のお宮 there is a Zelkova tree that should not be cut down.
But then a villager tried to cut it down anyway. The tree begun to bleed red blood and the man died soon.

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北佐久郡 Kitasaku district 立科町 Tateshina

kimon yoke no keyaki 鬼門除けのけやき
The Zelkova tree between the Hachiman shrine and the Myojin Shrine is supposed to ward off evil. Once three farmers said they could not pass there with their horses and tried to uproot the tree by pulling it sown with ropes. All three of them soon died at a young age.

. kimon 鬼門 "Demon Gate" in the Northern direction .


.......................................................................... Nagasaki 長崎県 ......................................
対馬市 Tsushima

o hideri sama オヒデリ様
氏神の維持金を捻出するためにオヒデリ様(神無月の間の留守番の神様)の山の一部と大欅を売ったら、区長の次男の足が悪くなって立てなくなった。責祈祷をすると上手くいかなかったが、後で和尚に神様が乗りうつり、欅の木を売ったせいだということがわかった。代わりに欅を植えたが、次男は死んでしまった。


.......................................................................... Okayama 岡山県 ......................................

. Nakayama Jinja 中山神社 .




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阿哲郡 Atetsu district 神郷町 Shingo

yashikigami 屋敷神
備中北部の神郷町の8ヶ村を支配する庄屋の家の西に接する山裾には、欅造りの荒神祠がある。そこに祀られている荒神はもとは庄屋の屋敷神であったが、今では牛の加護を祈るものとなっている。
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阿哲郡神郷町三ヶ市の荒神は、欅の大木の下に祠があり、部落の者みんなで祀っている、この部落の氏神は国司様であり、子供の宮参りにはこちらに参り、荒神には参らない。



.......................................................................... Shizuoka 静岡県 ......................................
庵原郡 Ihara district 両河内村 Ryogochi

Once the farmers wanted to cut down a large Zelkova tree in the forest. A nearby 藤 wisteria tree became so sad about the loss of its companion that it was howling and then begun to have blossoms, right in the middle of winter. The owner of the tree wrote a peaceful Waka poem on a slip of decorative paper and fixed it to the wisteria tree. The wiseria then stopped flowering and they could finish their work.
Yama no Kami 山の神, the deity of the mountain, had become angry, the farmers thought.



.......................................................................... Tochigi 栃木県 ......................................
上都賀郡 Kamitsuga district 東大芦村 HigashiOashi

When Kobo Daishi Kukai visited 日光登山 Mount Nikko he planted his staff in the ground at Higashi Oashi village. It grew to a large Zelkova tree.


.......................................................................... Tokyo 東京都 ......................................
八王子市 Hachioji

namakubi 生首 the cut-off head
In former times, when the 滝山城 Takiyama Castle was lost, the cut-off head of the Lord of the castle rolled down to the Zelkova tree and then jumped up to bite in the head of the victorious Samurai.
Since then the soul of the cut-off head resides in the Zelkova tree and sometimes comes down to bite people.
Once the head bit a man into the leg and the scars were seen and never healed. A learned man said it was the Yokai monster Jinmensoo 人面瘡 Jinmenso and suggested to offer it some おにぎり rice balls to eat every day. And indeed, after two months, the wound healed.



source : てくてくお気楽ダイアリー

jinmenso 人面瘡 - a supernatural tumor with a human face


- - - - - Not related, it seems, but interesting is the legend of

Jinmenju 人面樹 – The Human Face Tree
This tree is found in mountain valleys. The fruit of the tree looks like a human head. It doesn’t say a word, but it is constantly laughing. It is said that if the fruit laughs too heartily, it falls from the tree.

- source : hyakumonogatari.com - Zack Davisson -



.......................................................................... Toyama 富山県 ......................................
東礪波郡 Higashitonami district 平村 Taira

Once a 天狗 Tengu lived in a large Zelkova tree with two stems. When he went out to work he prayed to the tree to let him go safely. When he came back at night he gave thanks in prayer with folded hands.


keyaki with two stems 双幹 / 二股に分かれた幹


吉田神社の欅 - 長野県長野市吉田1丁目 / Yoshida Shrine, Nagano

- Check out this page with many special Keyaki trees:
- source : azumauta.web.fc2.com/kengai-

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中新川郡 Nakaniigawa district 上市町 Kamiichi

daija 大蛇 huge serpent
滝橋集落の青どろという淵に、深い洞が2つあって、大蛇が棲んでいた。大蛇は女の子に化けて、欅の木の下によく出た。ある人が大蛇の化けた女に「一番嫌いなものは何だ」と訊いたら、「タバコのヤニだ」と答えたので、タバコのヤニを取って手桶に入れて大蛇の化けた女に掛け、「俺は大判小判が嫌いだ」と叫んで逃げ出した。その晩、大蛇は仕返しに男の家に大判小判を投げ込み、男は長者になった。


.......................................................................... Tottori 鳥取県 ......................................

. Nagata Jinja 長田神社 .





.......................................................................... Wakayama 和歌山県 ......................................

Once there was a Zelkova tree of more then 2000 years (樹齢数千年の欅).
But one day the villagers tried to cut it down. That night 怪僧 an strange monk appeared and killed all men who had helped.
This Zelkova tree is the seat of a great deity 大神様, where the God comes to rest.



.......................................................................... Yamanashi 山梨県 ......................................
富士吉田市 Fujiyoshida

ジュウバコタタキ,ゴロチ
舟久保泰明氏の生まれたうちにはかつて月の木とよばれる欅の木があった。その木にジュウバコタタキだとかゴロチとかいう鳥か獣が来たといって、「ジュウバコがくるぞ」とか、「ジュウバコが縄を下ろしてひもひき上げちまうぞ」などとおどかされた。

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北杜市 Hokuto

meoto keyaki 夫婦欅 "husband and wife Zelkova"
At the Suwa Jinja shrine of 日野春村長坂上條村社 there are two Zelkova trees. The one on the left side is the 婦木 Wife, the larger one on the right is the 夫木 Husband.
The bark of the Husband Tree is very rough with many warts. People come here to wipe the warts with a 紙縒 paper string, and then their own イボ warts, to make them go away.

日野春村長坂上條村社の諏訪神社に夫婦欅とよばれるケヤキがある。社殿の右を夫木、社殿の左を婦木といい、夫木の表皮には多数の突起が疣状についている。紙縒をこの突起に結ぶとイボが治ると言われている。

- - - - -There are other trees of this kind


CLICK for more photos !
meoto keyaki 夫婦欅 "husband and wife Zelkova"


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- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
27 to explore ケヤキ (00)

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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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- - - - - HAIKU 俳句 - - - - -

葉を脱いで欅すらりと月の中
ha o nuide keyaki surarito tsuki no naka

Having shed its leaves
the zelkova stands svelte
in the moonlight

Tr. Hiroaki Sato

. Tada Chimako 多田智満子 (1930 - 2003) .

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仙台 ケヤキ並木 The famous Keyaki Road in Sendai, Miyagi


CLICK for more photos !

仙台の欅を慕いわたしは水
Sendai no keyaki o shitai watashi wa mizu

渋谷道 Shibuya Michi (1926 - )

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初冬の好日欅一樹立ち
松村蒼石

千年の杉や欅や滝の音
草間時彦

八幡宮夏至の欅が亭々と
高澤良一

- MORE haiku about the Keyaki tree:
- reference : haikureiku database -

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- #keyaki #zelkova -
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. Legends about trees - - 木と伝説 .

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