2017-08-26

unagi eel legends

- BACK to the Daruma Museum -
. Japanese legends and tales 伝説 民話 昔話 - Introduction .
. Legends about Animals 動物と伝説 .
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unagi うなぎ / 鰻 と伝説 Legends about the eel


Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳

. unagi, 鰻 / うなぎ, eel, Aal - Anguilla japonica .
- Introduction -

It was customary to eat kabayaki 蒲焼 broiled eel on the special unagi no hi 鰻の日 Unagi Eel Day,
the day of doyoo 土用 Doyo in summer, to gain strength in the great heat.

. anago 穴子 / アナゴ / 海鰻 conger eel - Congridae family.

. hamo 鱧 pike conger eel - Muraenesox cinereus .


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- - - - - ABC List of the prefectures :

.......................................................................... Fukushima 福島県 ......................................
双葉郡 Futaba district 浪江町 Namie

One of the nana fushigi 七不思議 seven wonders of Namie is a 白ウナギ / 白鰻驪  white eel.
蓮華院安楽坊には境内に、白鰻驪 、人を咬まない蝮、蛭、粟を食べない雀、3本足の雉、刈ったところから葉が出る杉、いつも実をつける茱の七不思議がある。




.......................................................................... Gifu 岐阜県 ......................................
郡上市の美並地区の粥川地区 Gujo, Minamimura, Kayugawa (Kaigawa)

unagi to oni 鰻 the Eel and yooki 妖鬼 the Monster Demon
Why the people of this area do not eat eel in Summer.


- Once upon a time
at mount 瓢ヶ岳 Fukubegatake (1,162m) there lived an oni 鬼 demon. Sometimes he came down the river 粥川 Kayugawa and caused great distress to the people living there, sometimes killing and eating them.
On orders of the Emperor the brave 藤原高光 Fujiwara no Takamitsu (c. 939 - 994) came here to drive out the Oni. But the Oni used his ability to become invisible and could not be found easily.
Takamitsu built four small shrines on mount Fukubegatake and 高賀山 mount Kogasan and prayed for help to 空蔵菩薩 Kokuzo Bosatsu. The deity granted him an arrow with pure white feathers.
Then 白鰻 one white eel appeared in the river and moved around as if he wanted to show the way to Takemitsu. Takamitsu followed the eel and found the Oni. With his strong bow and arrow he killed him with one shot.
After this, Takamitsu left his bow at the shrine Hoshinomiya Jinja 星宮神社, and the arrow at the side of the waterfall, which was then called
矢納ヶ淵 Yatogafuchi "the riverpool where the arrow was offered to the Gods".
From this time on, the villagers living along the river saw the eel as a messenger of the Deity and never ate a bite of eel.


Now there live a lot of eel happily in this "eel paradise".
They are protected as a 国の天然記念物 natural monument.


- 星宮神社 Hoshinomiya Jinja -
岐阜県郡上市美並町高砂1252 / 1252 Minamichō Takasago, Gujō-shi, Gifu


- 念興寺 Nenko-Ji -
郡上市和良町沢897 / 897 Warachōsawa, Gujō-shi, Gifu



Another version of the legend tells of Takamitsu cutting off the head of the Oni and when he washed his bloody sword in the river Kayugawa, it turned into an eel. The head of the Oni was taken to the temple Nenkooji 念興寺 Nenko-Ji by the villager 粥川太郎右衛門 Kayugawa Taroemon.
It is not shown any more, since if it were to come out, the weather would turn wild with storm and rain.)

- reference : Fujiwara no Takamitsu -
waka poet and Japanese nobleman.


.......................................................................... Gunma 群馬県 ......................................
安中市 Annaka

弘法大師 Kobo Daishi
At 東横野字上間仁田 Higashiyokono Kamimanita is a bridge called 鰻橋 Unagibashi, where fishing is not done.

Once when Kobo Daishi tried to cross a river here, he was in great difficulty and a huge eel made a bridge
to walk over and thus help him cross the river.
To express his gratitude, Kukai Kobo Daishi stomped his walking staff into the ground near the spot
and made a well which never got dry.




- and one more Kobo Daishi legend from 広島県 Hiroshima, Toyomatsu 豊松町

When Kobo Daishi tried to drink water from the river, a lot of eels were swimming around and made the water dirty. So he banned the eels from living in this spot, to teach them a lesson not to disturb thirsty travelers.

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


.......................................................................... Kagawa 香川県 ......................................
羽方(現高瀬町) Takase Hagawa

unagibuchi ryuuoo 鰻淵龍王 the Dragon King of the Eel Pool
is venerated on a rock with a shimenawa 注連縄 sacred rope around it.
There live 黒鰻 black eels and 白鰻 white eels.
If people saw a black eel, it would rain. If they saw a white eel, it would shine.. Many people came to find out about the rain in their region.

There are various places in Japan called - reference : うなぎ淵 unagibuchi -


.......................................................................... Kagoshima 鹿児島県 ......................................

昔々、娘を3人持った寡婦がいた。大水で帰れなくなった母親を鬼が助けるかわりに、娘をくれと言ってきた。末娘が嫁に行くことになったが、鬼は急流に流されて娘は助かった。その後、娘はアジガナシの妻となって華やかな生活を送ったが、嫉妬した姉に殺され、鰻になった後、夫に食べられてしまった。


.......................................................................... Miyagi 宮城県 ......................................
刈田郡 Katta district 蔵王町 Zao

不動滝の大鰻,三階滝の大蟹 waterfalls with Huge Eeel
不動滝のヌシの大鰻と、三階滝の大蟹の合戦。大鰻は美女に化けて遠刈田の籠山の猟師に加勢を頼んだが、臆病な猟師は約束を破って鰻が負け、澄川は七日間血に染まる。


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

Once upon a time
an old farmer wanted to prepare an eel for the Doyo no Hi in summer, but the eel escaped. The farmer ran after him, but the eel escaped and climbed up to 天道 Mount Tendo.
Up there was a great house where 大鬼 a huge demon lived. When the wife of the demon used her flint stone to make fire, there was lightning in the sky. When the demon hit his drum, there was a great rumbling in the sky. The Oni gave the farmer a small pot with water. When he spilled just a little of water, there would be 夕立 an evening shower.


.......................................................................... Saitama 埼玉県 ......................................

. oo unagi 大鰻 the big eel causing earthquakes .



.......................................................................... Shizuoka 静岡県 ......................................

. Norota eel ノロタ(海鰻 umi-unagi) and Tsunami .
Muraenesox cinereus, also called anago アナゴ.

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庵原郡 Ibara district  両河内村 Ryogouchimura

aka unagi 赤鰻 red eel
In the middle of the river 興津川 Okitsugawa was a huge meotoiwa 夫婦岩 "Rock for a Married Couple".
If water accumulated in one of the holes, this was a sign of bad fortune.
People said a red eel lived there.


.......................................................................... Wakayama 和歌山県 ......................................
有田郡 Arita district 清水町 Shimizu

shirounagi, shiro-unagi 白鰻 white eel
Once upon a time, maybe 400 years ago
a young girl and a young man were travellilng together. But one night the young man disappeared. The young woman got crazy with worry and walked around looking for him. Eventually she threw herself in the pool of a waterfall and died. From that time on in the waterfall pool there lived a female and a male white eel.
People thought the young woman must have been pregnant and given birth to a male baby boy.
In the spooky hours of the night, sometimes a green-blue flame can be seen hovering over the water and the voice of a crying baby is heard.


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- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
17 うなぎ (00)
99 鰻 (00) (00) 滝のヌシ / 淵の主 / 沼の主
76 ウナギ (00)
14 鰻 蛇 (00) serpent
7 鰻 龍 (00) dragon
6 鰻鱺 manrei (00)
05 鰻 蜘蛛 (00) spider
4 鰻 蟹 (00) crab
- - - - unagi to oni / Fudo / -

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. Onipedia - 鬼ペディア - Oni Demons - ABC-List - Index - .

. 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 ! .

- #unagi #eel #unagieel #aal -
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