Kiyohime

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Kiyohime Changes from a Serpent by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka

According to Japanese folklore,[1] Kiyohime (清姫?) (or just Kiyo) was the daughter (or in some versions, the widow) of a village headman or landlord named Shōji, on the Hidaka riverbank. The family was wealthy enough to entertain and provide lodging for traveling priests, who often passed by on their way to a shrine famous for ascetic practices.

Background[edit]

One day, a handsome visiting priest named Anchin fell in love with the beautiful Kiyohime, but after a time he overcame his passions and refrained from further meetings. Kiyohime became furious at the sudden change of heart and pursued him in rage. The priest and Kiyohime met at the edge of the Hidaka river, where the priest asked a boatman to help him to cross the river, but told him not to let her cross with his boat. When Kiyohime saw that Anchin was escaping her, she jumped into the river and started to swim after him. While swimming in the torrent of the Hidaka river, she transformed into a large serpent or dragon because of her rage. When Anchin saw her coming after him in her monstrous new form, he ran into the temple called Dōjō-ji. He asked the priests of Dōjōji for help and they hid him under the bell of temple. However, the serpent smelled him hiding inside the bell and started to coil around it. She banged the bell loudly several times with her tail, then gave a great belch of fire that melted the bell, killing the priest.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The original title of this folktale is "How a Monk of the Dōjōji in the Province of Kii copied the Lotus Sutra and Brought Salvation to Serpents," from the Konjaku Monogatarishū.