Abura-bo (油坊)

Abura-bo is a strange light or a ghost known in Shiga and Kyoto prefectures. The origin of the name comes from a folk tale about a Buddhist monk who stole oil then turned himself into it.


In Shiga prefecture, a strange light called abura-bo was said to appear from the end of spring through summer in Hoshika village, Yasu district (the present Yasu city), and it was said to be a Buddhist monk who had stolen lamp oil from Mt.Hiei then turned himself into it. "Kokon Hyaku Monogatari Hyo‎ban (One Hundred Strange and Weird Tales of Past and Present)," a collection of ghost stories from the Edo period, named it "Abura-nusubito" (an oil-thief). It is said that a similar strange light appeared in Kyoto prefecture, and according to "Shokoku rijindan" (Tales collected from village people), a book on miscellaneous subjects in the Kansei era, and that it also appeared at the western foot of Mt.Hiei.

Furthermore, abura-bo is regarded as a ghost with oil in his hand at Kongo-ji temple in Aisho town, Echi district, Shiga prefecture. It has a folk tale similar to the one in Yasu district; a Buddhist monk, who had had the duty of delivering lamp oil to the temple, stole the oil and made money for his love of having a good time, however, a sudden attack of illness took his life before he went out to have fun, and since then his ghost would appear at the temple gate.

[Original Japanese]