Daidarabocchi (a giant in Japanese mythology) (ダイダラボッチ)

Daidarabocchi is a mythological giant which is handed down in many parts of Japan (a creature in legend). There are many similar names of the giant. Therefore, in this article the name Daidarabocchi will be used for the sake of convenience. As the legend often contains the story of the giant building mountains and lakes, it is pointed out that the giant was originally the god of nation building.


In the book titled "Daidarabo no Ashiato" (the foot print of Daidarabocchi) (April issue, Chuo Koronsha), Kunio YANAGITA studied the legends of Daidarabocchi that he had gathered from many parts of Japan. He stated in the book that Daidarabocchi comes from 'Daitarohoshi,' which is the combination of 'Daitaro' (ohito or a giant) and hoshi (man), and Daidarabocchi is the counterpart of Issunboshi (The Inch-High Samurai).


There are different names such as 'Deidarabocchi,' 'Dairanbo,' 'Daidarabo,' 'Deiranbo,' 'Dairabo' and 'Dadabo' and so on. Besides the names, many derivations are seen. In many cases, the story is that the giant tries to do something but fails and goes away, to his chagrin.

Usually the number of the eyes is not mentioned, and it is imagined that Daidarabocchi has a gigantic body because he carries mountains. The giant with single eye is often about 10m tall, which is relatively smaller than the giant in the case that the number of eyes is not mentioned. The number of his legs is considered to be two, because the giant 'steps over' something in one stride in the legend. The giant with single eye often has only one leg, which is considered as the syncretization with Hitotsumenyudo (one-eyed monster) or Hitosumekozo (one-eyed goblin).

Hitachi no kuni fudoki (fudoki of Hitachi Province)

There is the following description in "Hitachi no kuni fudoki" Naga Ryakki.

There is a hill called Ogushi, about 6.5 km west of umaya (facilities for providing houses, food etc.) in Hiratsu. Long ago, there was a giant, and he was so big that his arms reached the sea and grabbed the huge hamaguri clams while he was on a hill. The seashells after which the giant had eaten piled up to became a hill (that is, a shell mounds). At that time the hill was called Okuchi, but it is now called the hill of Ogushi. The giant's footprint was 72 m or more in length, 36 m or more in width, and the hole, dug by the giant's urine was 36 m or more in diameter.

Harima no kuni fudoki (fudoki of Harima Province)

In Taka County section of "Harima fudoki,"there is a description of the legend about the giant that the sky in the county was high and the footprints became many lakes. It is considered that this legend is the same kind of "Hitachi no kuni fudoki." It seems that copper was produced actively in Taka County, and the fact is similar to the one in Izumo Province as the two places produced metal and had the legend of the giant.

In Taka County long ago, there was a giant and he was always bending down in walking. Touring the sea in the south, the sea in the north and the east, the giant came to this county, and said, "In other places the sky was so low that I always had to bend down to walk. But this place the sky is high enough to walk with my back straightened up." That is why this place came to be called Taka (=high) County. The footprints of the giant became a number of marshes.

The traditions about place names

In the book of Kunio YANAGITA titled "Yokai Dangi "(lecture about specters), there is a description that he went to Onuma, Sagamihara City for his research. He was disappointed at that the place did not have the legend of Daidarabocchi, but it was Kanuma located about 5 km north of Onuma that had the legend.

The contents of the legend vary according to the locals, and the alleged mountains and marshes made by Daidarabocchi are also different.

There are relatively many legends related to big volcanoes in eastern Japan.

Building and carrying mountains
In order to build Mt. Fuji, Daidarabocchi piled up the soil he dug from Koshu. Because of this, Koshu became a basin.

He built Mt. Haruna Fuji of Joshu by piling soil. The place where he had taken the soil became Harunako Lake. Mt. Haruna Fuji is lower than Mt. Fuji, because Daidarabocchi tried to carry a little more soil but gave up in the course at the breaking of the dawn.

Mt. Asama felt jealous of younger sister Mt. Fuji which was higher than itself, and demanded Mt. Fuji to share its soil. Mt. Fuji agreed, and Daidarabocchi carried the soil in his apron. However, Mt. Asama became angry saying that the amount of soil was not enough, and hit the giant. The spilled soil at the moment became Mt. Maekake. The angry Mt. Asama erupted at last.

One day, trying to compare the weights of so called beautiful mountains Mt. Fuji in the west and Mt. Tsukuba in the east, Daidarabocchi tied the ropes the two mountains to a yoke and lifted it, and Mt. Tsukuba was lifted but not Mt. Fuji. And in the course, however, the rope tied to two mountains broke and Mt. Tsukuba fell to the ground.
It is said that, the originally single peak Mt. Tsukuba was split into two peaks by the impact,

Leaving footprints and handprints
The footprint, that Daidarabocchi made when he sat on Mt. Akagi in Joshu and straddled became a puddle. The puddle is Akanuma in Kibe.

The Nishina Sanko (Nishina three lakes) that consist of Aokiko Lake, Nakatsunako Lake and Kizakiko Lake in the north of Omachi City of Nagano Prefecture are the footprints of Daidarabocchi.

Senbako Lake located in the center of Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture, is a footprint of Daidarabocchi (locally called Daidarabo), though it is rather big.

When Daidarabocchi who lived deep in the mountains in Enshu was walking with children on his hand, he accidentally threw away the children at the moment of trying to step over the mountain which was about as high as his waist. Surprised Daidarabocchi and children began to cry, and their tears poured into the handprint which the giant made when he fell to the ground, resulting in Hamanako Lake.

Today, the place names of 'Daita' in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo Metropolis and 'Daitakubo' in Saitama City are the footprints of Daidarabocchi.

At the peak of Mt. Daidarabo in Shizuoka City, there is a dent which is about 150 m in length. It is believed to be a footprint made by the left foot of Daidarabocchi. It is said that it was left while the giant was carrying the soil from Biwako Lake to Mt. Fuji.

In the legend of Sagamihara City the giant is called Deidarabocchi, and while he was carrying Mt. Fuji to a different place, he became tired then sat on Mt. Fuji and rested. Then roots started to grow from the mountain, and he straddled to lift the mountain, and this is how the present Kanuma was made.

Other footprints were left when the giant put his feet on the peak area of Mt. Ino (in central area in Kagawa Prefecture) to discharge his urine.
(The footprints allegedly made by the giant still remain now, but they are very small.)
In addition, it is said that Daisoku-gawa River was made when the giant discharged his urine.

Rest and Wash
The giant washed his shins in Tone-gawa River (He washed his loincloth in a theory.)

There is a legend that long before human beings appeared, Deidarabocchi sat down on Mt. Haguro (in Tochigi Prefecture) and washed his legs in Kinu-gawa River.

It is believed that Yatsugatake Chushin highlands Quasi-National Park in Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture is where Daidarabocchi sat down and took a rest.

Helping human beings
Yokote Basin in Akita Prefecture was once a lake called Torinoumi, and when the lake was reclaimed, Daidarabocchi appeared and drained the water and shoveled the mud, by which the reclamation made much progress. This Daidarabocchi is considered as the incarnation of Miyoshi-jinja Shrine on Mt. Taihei.

There is a place name called Dadahoshi, Kagiyamachi Town in southern area of Tokai City, Aichi Prefecture, where the legend still remains that the footprints of Daidarabocchi became ponds when the giant was moving on foot. The ponds used to be in the west side of Yawata Shinden Station of Nagoya Railroad, but the ponds were reclaimed and the trace does not exist now.

[Original Japanese]