Kōga Saburō

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Kōga Saburō (甲賀三郎) is a character in Japanese folklore associated with the Suwa region.[1]

According to legend, Kōga was the son of a local landlord whose wife was kidnapped by tengu. He journeyed to over sixty holy mountains trying to locate her, eventually finding a cave in Mount Tateshina which led to the underworld. On his re-emergence (via Mount Asama) he had become the snake deity Suwa-daimyōjin (more usually identified with the god Takeminakata).[2] There are a number of variants on the basic tale; some see Kōga reunited with his wife (and suggest that they had a son together in the underworld),[1] some involve his two brothers joining him on the search,[3] others include him fighting against a resident serpent god before becoming one himself.[4]

The story of Kōga Saburō was adapted into a kabuki play, Kōga Saburō in the Cave in around 1808.[3]


  1. ^ a b Carmen Blacker (2 August 2004). The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan. Routledge. ISBN 1-135-31872-7.
  2. ^ John Breen; Mark Teeuwen (January 2000). Shinto in History: Ways of the Kami. University of Hawaii Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-8248-2363-4.
  3. ^ a b Richard M. Dorson (11 September 2012). Folk Legends of Japan. Tuttle Publishing. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-4629-0963-6.
  4. ^ Namazu-e and Their Themes: An Interpretative Approach to Some Aspects of Japanese Folk Religion. Brill Archive. 1964. p. 98. GGKEY:2TUFXDJBJPN.