The Ogre of Suzaku-mon Gate (朱雀門の鬼)

The ogre of Suzaku-mon Gate is said to have lived in the Suzaku-mon Gate of Heian-kyo (the ancient capital in what is now Kyoto). It was the most fearsome ogre in the ancient capital, where many ogres are believed to have appeared, but it's said to have been talented in the arts such as playing the flute.


The mystery story called "Haseo-zoshi," about KI no Haseo, a literary man in the early Heian period, contains an anecdote about Haseo and the ogre of Suzaku-mon Gate, which begins like this:

One day, a strange man came to Haseo, who was a good player of sugoroku (Japanese backgammon) and challenged Haseo to a game. Haseo, despite feeling suspicious of the man, accepted the challenge. It was Suzaku-mon Gate that Haseo was taken to as the venue for the game. The man climbed the gate easily without any foothold, and went up to the tower with Haseo lifted on his shoulder because Haseo could not climb. It is the ogre of Suzaku-mon Gate that had transfigured himself into the man.

Haseo said he bet all his money and possessions on the game, whereas the ogre said he bet the most beautiful woman on earth. Haseo won the sugoroku game in succession. The ogre, having lost the game, later visited Haseo together with a beautiful woman, and before leaving her with Haseo he told him not to touch her for 100 days.

Although Haseo followed the ogre's word at first, he lost patience at around 80 days and made love to the woman. The woman turned into water in a moment and flew off. The woman was made up of good parts of numerous dead bodies that had been collected by the ogre, and was supposed to become a real human being in 100 days.

Three months after the incident, the ogre approached the ox-drawn carriage in which Haseo was riding and attacked him for his unfaithfulness. When Haseo prayed to the gods for help with his whole heart, a voice saying 'Get out of here!' was heard from the heavens and then the ogre disappeared.

[Original Japanese]