Mt. Oe (大江山)

Located at the base of the Tango Peninsula in Kyoto Prefecture, Mt. Oe extends over Yosano-cho, Fukuchiyama City and Miyazu City. It has an elevation of 833 meters. Mt. Oe is also called the Yosa-no-oyama mountain range. This range is known for the legend of Shuten-doji (according to this legend, Mt. Oe was home to a demon who terrorized old Kyoto). It is also known for the sea of clouds that is visible from points of high elevation. On August 3, 2007, the mountain range was designated as a Quasi-National Park under the name Tango-Amanohashidate-Oeyama Quasi-National Park.

Mt. Oe range as a mine (Mt. Oe Nickel Mine and Komori Mine)

Mt. Oe is geologically comprised of stratum with basic bedrock pushed up deep from within the earth. The range is rich in metal veins, and place names related to metals such as 'kana-ya' (metal house) are common. In 1917, a mineral deposit was found in the mountain, after which it was mined for nickel, which was necessary to support the production of weapons from 1933 to the end of the Pacific War. Minerals were carried by industrial railway (Kaya Railway) to the refinery in Iwataki-cho, bordering the Sea of Japan, where they were refined. Many workers were recruited from the Republic of China and Korea to work in the mines. On August, 1998, sixteen Chinese miners filed a damage suit to the Kyoto District Court for forced labor. On September 29, 2004, Nippon Yakin Kogyo Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Tokyo) paid a settlement totaling twenty-one million yen, and a reconciliation was partly effected at the Osaka High Court. On May 12, 2007, however, in a decision at the appeal hearings, the Supreme Court (Japan) (Presiding Judge Mutsuo TAHARA) dismissed the damage suit against the Japanese government. There are still people who carry the influence of war to this day.

Legend of ogre extermination
Three legends pertaining to ogre extermination in Mt. Oe have been passed on. One legend in the Kojiki (Japan's ancient chronicle) holds that Emperor Sujin's brother Hikoimasuno-miko exterminated KUGUMIMI no Mikasa, a tsuchigumo (those in ancient times who were not subjects of the Yamato court). The second legend is that Prince Shotoku's younger brother, Imperial Prince Maroko defeated three ogres named Eiko, Karuashi and Tsuchiguma, and the third is the famous legend about Shuten-doji.

The third legend is one of the themes performed in a Noh play "Oeyama," a story about ogre extermination in the Gobanmemono (Fifth Category).

The Japan Ogre Exchange Museum was built on the site of an abandoned copper mine at the foot of Mt. Oe in 1993 after these legends.

Incidentally, the home of Shuten-doji 'Mt. Oe' is believed to have been a mountain along Mt. Oe in Tango, but some say it might have been a mountain along the Sanin-do Road on the border between Yamashiro and Tanba Provinces in Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City.

Meaning of the ogre extermination legend

The Tango region where the mountain range is located had close contacts with the Asian continent from ancient times, and immigrants were engaged in metal work; with their advanced technique in metal refining, and having accumulated a large fortune, those who recognized this in the capital sent an army to pillage the wealth, and rule the region. One theory holds that people created the tsuchigumo (spider limbed monster) and ogre extermination legends from these incidents in order to justify and glorify themselves; at the same time, some propose that immigrants were in fact called ogres because they gathered to become thieves and terrorized the region.

Tanka poem

The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (one hundred waka poems) has this tanka by KOSHIKIBU no Naishi, 'The road going over Mt. Oe and via Ikuno is so far that I have not set foot on Ama no Hashidate or seen a letter from my mother yet.'
Some say that Mt. Oe in this tanka indicates both the mountain explained in this section and the one in Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City.

[Original Japanese]