Ibaraki Doji (茨木童子)

Ibaraki Doji was a Heian-period oni (a mythical creature resembling a demon or ogre) who supposedly went on a rampage in Kyoto from his lair on Mt. Oe. He was the most powerful henchman of the infamous Shuten Doji.

There are two theories about his birthplace: one claims he was born in Settsu Province (either in modern-day Mizuo, Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture, or in Tomimatsu, Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture), while the other holds that he was born in Echigo Province (specifically in the town of Karuizawa, which is located in Nagaoka City--formerly known as Tochio--in modern-day Niigata Prefecture). Legend has it that his most fearsome characteristics included having all his teeth at birth and being of enormous size, which struck fear into the hearts of all his neighbors; after transforming into an oni, he encountered Shuten Doji and became his underling, and then together they plotted to terrorize the capital (Kyoto).

The lair of Shuten Doji and his gang was on Mt. Oe (which is generally thought to have been located in Tanba Province, but a competing theory holds that "Mt. Oe" in fact refers to the Mt. Oe on the border of the modern-day cities of Kyoto and Kameoka); according to legend, they committed various outrages, for example kidnapping the children of noblemen in Kyoto, until they were laid low by MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu and his four retainers (known as "Yorimitsu's Four Heavenly Warriors"). But it is said that Ibaraki Doji managed to escape, and accounts of his subsequent duels with WATANABE no Tsuna, one of Yorimitsu's Four Heavenly Warriors, on Ichijo modoribashi bridge and at Rashomon gate have been passed down over the years as entries in collections of setsuwa tales as well as in Noh plays, Noh songs, and Kabuki plays.

The theory that he was born in Echigo

This theory holds that Ibaraki Doji (the "Ibaraki" in this telling is also sometimes written with alternate characters) was born, like Shuten Doji, in Echigo Province. Shuten Doji was born in Sunakozuka in Kanbara county (modern-day Sunakozuka, Bunsui-cho, Niigata Prefecture) and served as a page-boy of Kokujo-ji Temple, whereas Ibaraki Doji was supposedly born deep in the mountains at Karuizawa in Koshi county (today's Karuizawa in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture) and his upbringing entrusted to Yahiko-jinja Shrine. The places where Shuten Doji and Ibaraki Doji were said to have learned sumo wrestling are in that same general area; currently there is a small shrine on the latter spot, at which Ibaraki Doji has been deified. Moreover, there were many people in this region whose family name was 'Ibaraki,' and tradition among Ibaraki families of the area holds that they not throw soy beans at Setsubun (a demon-exorcising holiday elsewhere known throughout Japan for the custom of throwing beans), and that gables not be built on houses, since the building of gables on houses was thought to bring misfortune on the family.

Much like Shuten Doji (known in his boyhood as "Gedomaru," meaning "Apostate Boy"), who was famous for his good looks and received huge numbers of love-letters from the girls in the neighborhood, Ibaraki Doji was also said to be a very handsome youth, wooed by many young ladies in his area, leading his mother, anxious over his spiritual future, to send him off to Yahiko-jinja Shrine. One day, however, while he was home from Yahiko-jinja Shrine visiting his mother, she discovered a 'bloodstained love-letter' hidden away in his school trunk. When just one finger was dipped into that blood, Ibaraki instantly transformed into an oni, scampered up the ceiling beam, tore off the gable on the roof and ran away. Around that time, Gedomaru (that is, Shuten Doji) heard of a girl who had died of grief due to his failure to send a reply to her love-letter, and upon opening the tsuzura (package) included in her letter--which he had never read--a strange vapor rose from it, causing him to lose consciousness; when he came to, his transformation into an oni was already complete, so he fled from the temple and set his heart on reaching the very limits of evil.

Ibaraki Doji, who had found such a kindred spirit in Shuten Doji, also became his henchman, and together they began raiding the villages nearby; Ibaraki's mother, after hearing rumors of his misdeeds, draped herself in his baby clothes and appeared before him, which suddenly caused him to be flooded with memories of his childhood, so he vowed that 'never shall I set foot in this region again,' and together with Shuten Doji, began to make his way towards the capital (Kyoto), passing through Mt. Togakushi in Shinano (Nagano).

The theory that he was born in Settsu

Much as there are several competing theories about Shuten Doji's birthplace, including a compelling case that he was born at the foot of Mt. Ibuki, there are several about Ibaraki Doji's birthplace as well, like the view that he was born in Amagasaki City in Hyogo Prefecture or that which holds he was born in Ibaraki City in Osaka Prefecture; these competing theories are described in various documents, including the "Settsu meisho zue" (Illustrated Guide to Famous Places in Settsu Province), the "Setsuyo kensetsu," and the "Setsuyo gundan." According to the "Setsuyo gundan," published in 1701, he was born in the village of Tomimatsu in Settsu Province (the modern-day Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture) and abandoned, while still in his baby clothes, in the village of Ibaraki (today's Ibaraki City), where he was picked up by Shuten Doji, who raised him and gave him the nickname "Ibaraki."

And in the "Setsuyo kensetsu" Ibaraki Doji is described as the child of natives of Tamematsu village in Kawabe county (which, like Tomimatsu, is part of modern-day Amagasaki City), but right from birth his teeth were all grown in, his hair long, his gaze piercing, and his strength beyond that of a fully grown man; consequently, his family were terrified of him and abandoned him near Ibaraki village in Shimashimo county, where he was picked up by Shuten Doji.

According to the version of the legend handed down in Ibaraki City itself, Ibaraki Doji was born in Mizuo village (today's Ibaraki City) after a sixteen-month pregnancy and a very difficult delivery; by birth, he had already acquired his teeth, and began to walk almost immediately thereafter, and looking on his mother's face, he smiled and gazed with such a piercing stare that his mother died of shock. His father, deciding he wouldn't raise a baby so demonic, abandoned him in front of a barber's near the woods of Kuzugami, in the neighboring village of Ibaraki, so thereafter Ibaraki Doji was raised by the barber and his wife, who had no children of their own. Even while still a young child Doji's physical stature and strength surpassed that of a grown man's, leading the barber at a loss as to how to raise him, but he decided to train him in hair-cutting, thereby hoping to calm his disposition. One day, however, Doji nicked a customer's face with his razor, and after hurriedly wiping away the blood with his finger, he tried to clean that finger by licking off the blood, only to find the taste of blood addictive; thereafter, he began deliberately cutting the customers' faces and licking up the resulting blood. After being scolded by the irate barber, Doji was feeling despondent and wandered aimlessly down to the bridge over a nearby stream, hanging his head, only to notice that his face, reflected in the water, had completely transformed into that of an oni, whereupon he fled north, without ever returning home to the barber's, into the mountains of Tanba, where he eventually encountered Shuten Doji and became his henchman. That bridge was called 'Ibaraki Doji Sugatami Bashi' ('the bridge where Ibaraki Doji looked on his own appearance') but does not survive today; there is a stone monument on the site where the bridge once stood, however.

The extermination of the oni on Mt. Oe

The damage inflicted by Shuten Doji and his gang was very severe, which prompted MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu to go on a mission to exterminate the oni; together with his main followers, the Four Great Warriors of Yorimitsu (WATANABE no Tsuna, SAKATA no Kintoki, Sadamitsu USUI, and URABE no Suetake) and other friends including FUJIWARA no Yasumasa, he set out for Mt. Oe leading a force of more than fifty warriors in total. The group, dressed as mountain monks, received the help of all manner of people on their journey until they successfully infiltrated Shuten Doji's lair by posing as travelers seeking lodging for the night. That night, Yorimitsu and his compatriots held a drinking bout together with their hosts and then waited until late at night, when Shuten Doji and his gang were all so drunk they could barely move, before exterminating every last one of them. Only Ibaraki Doji, while fighting a duel with WATANABE no Tsuna and seeing Shuten Doji struck down, decided the cause was lost and retreated, making him the sole oni who managed to escape.

The duels between WATANABE no Tsuna and Ibaraki Doji

Monogatari (tales) that describe the fights between WATANABE no Tsuna and Ibaraki Doji include:
The "Heike monogatari, tsurugi-kan" (Tale of the Heike (Taira), tsurugi (sword) volume)
The "Taiheiki" (Record of the Great Peace)
The "Zentaiheiki" (Record of the Earlier Great Peace)
The "Genpei seisuiki" (The Rising and Falling Fortunes of the Genji (Minamoto) and the Heike (Taira))
but also appears in the following:
The "Otogi zoshi" (a book of ghost stories)
The Kabuki play "Ibaraki"
The Kabuki play "Modoribashi"
The Noh play "Rashomon"
The "Tsunayakata" (a nagauta, or long epic song/poem, on the House of Tsuna)
and yet in each such appearance, the details are different.
Most, however, do include a storyline that is something along the lines of 'WATANABE no Tsuna cuts off Ibaraki Doji's arm, and so Ibaraki Doji makes his way to Tsuna's house to take back his arm.'

Furthermore, in 1978 Toshie KIHARA used the above-mentioned texts as sources for her manga (comic) version of these events, entitled 'Oeyama kaden' (the Legend of Mt. Oe), and in 1986 this manga, in Yukihiro SHIBATA's theatrical version, was adapted for the stage by the winter performance troupe of the Takarazuka Revue Company (with Michi TAIRA in the role of Ibaraki Doji), and in addition to these adaptations, Mayu SHIMADA also created a play in 1996 entitled 'Ibaraki Ibaraki,' which shifted the setting of the story to the present day and focuses on the relationship between WATANABE no Tsuna's grandson, a high school student, and Ibaraki Doji (who is female in this version).

The Ichijo modoribashi bridge

In theatrical and other versions, Ibaraki Doji generally makes his first appearance on the Ichijo modoribashi bridge over the Hori river. A young, beautiful woman standing on the bridge appears to have lost her way, but when WATANABE no Tsuna pulls her up behind him on his steed, she suddenly transforms into an oni, grabs him by his (long) hair, and tries to fly away with him, in the direction of Mt. Atago (in present-day Kyoto City). But Tsuna keeps his cool, and manages to escape his predicament by slicing off the oni's arm with his legendary sword, Higekiri (Beard-slicer).

Tsuna then shows the oni's severed arm to MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu.
Yorimitsu then consults with an onmyoji (a Heian-period sorcerer; in some accounts, the onmyoji he speaks to is none other than the famous ABE no Seimei), who informs Tsuna that 'The oni will definitely come here seeking to recover his arm, so shut yourself away in your house for seven days of ritual confinement, and do not allow anyone else to enter the house during this time.'
Sure enough, over the next several days, Ibaraki Doji employs all manner of stratagems trying to gain entry into Tsuna's house, but thanks to the power of the Sutra of the Benevolent Kings Tsuna chants, as well as the protective charms he possesses, Ibaraki Doji is unable to enter.

In the end, on the seventh day Tsuna's aunt Mashiba (or in some versions, his foster mother) comes to visit him from Settsu Province. Tsuna explains the situation and steals his heart to refuse to let his aunt enter, but the elderly woman tearfully reproaches him, saying 'is this how you repay me for all the loving care I lavished on you when I was raising you as a child?' which leaves Tsuna no choice but to break his vow and allow his aunt to enter the house. However, the aunt is in fact none other than a transformed Ibaraki Doji, in disguise. Remaining in the shape and guise of Tsuna's aunt, Doji asked to see the arm Tsuna had cut off of the oni, so Tsuna retrieves it from the sealed Chinese-style chest and hands it to her; yet even as he carefully watches her, Doji suddenly returns to his true oni shape. And then, still clutching the arm, Doji bursts into flight, blasting through the gable on the roof and vanishing into the night sky.


Another version of the story has WATANABE no Tsuna cutting off Ibaraki Doji's arm at Rashomon (a famous gate in Kyoto).

A while after the successful extermination of the oni on Mt. Oe, MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu and his followers, including the Four Great Warriors, are all gathered at a banquet when word reaches them that an oni has appeared at the nearby Rashomon.

They all rush out, eager to prove their mettle against the oni if the rumor of its presence are true, and it happened to be Tsuna's turn, so he entered under the gate, encountered the oni, and fought a duel with him, the end result of which was that he managed to slice off the oni's arm.

Tsuna had been certain that no oni had survived the earlier purge, yet sure enough, as soon as he reached Rashomon, there stood Ibaraki Doji (in some versions Ibaraki Doji had taken the form of a beautiful maiden), and indeed the result of their duel was that Ibaraki Doji had his arm cut off.

Thereafter, much like in other versions of the story, Ibaraki Doji transforms again and later appears in an attempt to get his arm back.

What became of Ibaraki Doji after he took back his arm

There is no standard tale for where Ibaraki Doji went after he took back his arm. There are a number of folk legends in Settsu concerning what became of him, including that he returned to his parents' home once more, or that he tried to return there only to be driven away.

[Original Japanese]