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According to Japanese folklore, 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.
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. Anchin 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 bonshō bell of the 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 so powerful that it melted the bell and killed Anchin.
She appears in the mobile game Fate/Grand Order as both a Berserker, and Lancer class servant, both incarnations with a madness/insanity related skill.
She also appears in the Megami Tensei video game series as a demon.
In the video game For Honor, the Aramusha character has a customizable sword gear set named "Kiyohime's Embrace" complete with serpent scales on the blade hilts, and marks running down the blades as if they were partly melted.
In the mobile game onmyoji, Kiyohime is represented as a shikigami, one of the collectable spirits.
In the anime series My-HiME, Kiyohime is the Child (a part-spiritual, part-mechanical creature) of Shizuru Fujino, one of the 12 HiMEs.
- 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.
- Ueda Akinari (6 August 2012). Ugetsu Monogatari or Tales of Moonlight and Rain (Routledge Revivals): A Complete English Version of the Eighteenth-Century Japanese collection of Tales of the Supernatural. Routledge. pp. 252–. ISBN 978-1-136-81032-9.
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