Enju no Jashin – The Evil God in the Pagoda Tree

Translated from Mizuki Shigeru’s Mujyara

Long ago in Koshu (Modern day Yamanashi prefecture), on the base of Mt. Minobu, there was a dark forest where great trees lined up in a row. Inside the forest was an ancient Japanese Pagoda Tree. The tree was worshiped as a spirit, and a shrine had been built near the tree. However, anyone who passed by that tree after sundown had to leave an offering of silver and gold, or fine clothing, or anything of monetary value. Those who ignored this custom would suffer a terrifying curse. Now, I say that the tree was a spirit, but those in the town called it the mori no jyashin, the Evil God of the Forest.

At one time, a poor but hardworking farmer heard that his mother was dreadfully ill. He fled back home to see her, but the quickest path to her house took him right in front of the tree, and he had nothing to leave as an offering. There was nothing to be done, and as the famer rushed by the tree he prayed to the evil god, making a promise that he would come back later with an appeasement. But from the tree an empty suit of armor appeared and followed the man. The farmer dropped to the ground, bowing his head against the ground and begging the evil god for forgiveness. Appearing to accept the promise, the armor disappeared.

The following day, because the farmer terribly poor, he could only muster 500 mon in coins for an offering. Apparently this amount did not please the evil god, who cast the farmer into a giant pot and set him to fire preparing to make a dinner of him. The farmer prayed most solemnly for his life, and his prayers were heard. The son of the diety Fudo Myo appeared, and dispensed with the evil god. Not only that, all of the money and goods that had been paid to the evil god by the village was returned.

Although the villagers called the entity in the tree a spirit, I think it is more likely that some kind of yokai had settled down there.

Translator’s Note:

The name of this story is Enju no Jashin (槐の邪神). The enjyu tree is a species called Sophora japonica, and is known in English as either the Japanese Pagoda Tree or the Chinese Scholar.

Further Reading:

Check out other magical tree tales from hyakumonogatari.com:

Ochiba Naki Shii – The Chinkapin Tree of Unfallen Leaves


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Photobooth Journal
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 01:52:30

    Great story, thank you!
    Do you have anything in your blog about the lantern spirit (or whatever it may be) that is pictured on the right of each of your posts? I love his sad face and would like to know a bit about him.


    • Kat
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 14:12:47

      In the version I read, Oiwa was an ugly woman who was married off to a poor man. He fell in love with a beautiful woman and, in order to be with her, tried to kill Oiwa with poison that, instead, made her eyes droop out of their sockets and her hair to fall out in bloody chunks. Disgusted, he just killed her.
      Later, in the marriage ceremony to his new beautiful bride, he keeps seeing Oiwa’s face in the lanterns, and the food, everywhere he turns. He starts to panic but continues the marriage. As he lifts his new bride’s veil, all he sees is Oiwa’s face, drooping, red eyes sobbing as she pulls her bloody hair out and thrusts it at him. Furious, the man draws his sword and takes Oiwa’s head off.
      He immediatly realizes he’s just killed his new bride as Oiwa’s ghostly face melts away to reveal hers. Thus, Oiwa got her revenge.


  2. vilajunkie
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 11:56:52

    Not the blog owner, but I can answer that:

    The lantern spirit is a form taken by the vengeful female ghost known as Oiwa-san. There’s a summary of her legend on this site too! 🙂

    https://hyakumonogatari.com/2011/10/14/more-hokusai-manga-yurei/ (See the “Oiwa and the Buddhist Monk Yuten – Volume 10” section.)


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