Translated from Nihon no Yurei Banashi
The Body on the Boarders
Long ago, on the road lying exactly on the boarder between the province of Sendai (modern day Miyagi prefecture) and the province of Souma (modern day Fukushima prefecture), a solitary boy fell dead.
The boy was journeying from Sendai and planning to cross over into Souma when he collapsed. His head and upper-body lay in Souma, while his legs and lower-body lay in the territory of Sendai.
Just then, a samurai patrolling the boarder of Sendai came upon the scene.
“Ohhhh…this is a troublesome place to find a corpse. And who is going to be responsible for cleaning this up? If he is from Sendai, then the obligation is ours, but…let’s see what we can do….”
Softly and secretly, the patrolling samurai of Sendai lifted the body in his arms, turned him around placing his head in Sendai and his feet in Souma. He did not know, however that he was being watched by a figure from the shadows. There was a samurai who had been patrolling the boarders of Souma.
The Souma samurai leapt quickly from his positing in the tree’s shadow.
“Hey hey! This is a terrible thing you are doing! That child is from your province! He only fell dead while trying to enter my province.”
What are you saying? Can’t you see? This is clearly a child of Souma!”
“No, he is from Sendai. Look at the body for proof! Can’t you see that his head is facing away from Souma and his feet are firmly in Sendai?”
“Are you crazy? Look at his body! It is exactly the opposite!”
“Only because you flipped him around! I saw it all!”
“How dare you falsely accuse me!”
The two began to scream at each other fiercely.
However no matter how strongly they disputed the other’s statement, they could not come to a conclusion on who was responsible for cleaning up the body. Finally, the samurai of Sendai fixed the samurai of Souma with his most fearsome glare, and said:
“Fine. If we can’t work it out ourselves, let us fetch a Magistrate of Sendai and a Magistrate of Souma, and they can decide what is right.”
“OK, that sounds fair. Let’s do just that.”
And so it came to be that the two Magistrates arrived, and discussed the problem of the boy’s body.
It must be said that Sendai was a very large and strong province, while Souma was small and weak. Even if the Magistrate of Sendai knew he was in the wrong, he would never admit it. And of this point, he said:
“The tiny province of Souma is nothing compared to the might of Sendai. If this dispute escalates, what do you think will happen? Do you understand what I am saying?”
The implied threat was clear.
From here, the discussion of who was responsible for disposing of the body was ended. For it was true that if Sendai and Souma went to war, the outcome would never be in doubt. Souma would lose.
Therefore, Souma had no choice but to accede to the wishes of Sendai.
Before the Grave
While they were going to this grave decision, the Sun had risen and the body of the boy had begun to decompose. The people of Souma said:
“This poor boy. Well, there is nothing to do about it but to bury him here.”
So they dug a grave and placed the boy inside.
The following day, a mysterious thing occurred. Although they were positive they had buried the boy in the grave, he was seen sitting next to his headstone. Patiently, he would gaze kindly in the direction of Souma. After that, his head would turn in the direction of Sendai and his face would turn horrible. With all of his heart he would glare his hatred at Sendai.
The people of Souma said this:
“The curse of that boy is on Sendai, and they will be destroyed by it. The grudge of the living is nothing to be feared, but the grudge of a yurei…”
Not a single person of Souma who looked upon the boy suffered any ill effects, but the same thing can not be said of the people of Sendai.
This story is from the Houken Era and tells of the way things are. It is an easy to understand legend, coming from the Tohoku Area.