Ogurihangan (小栗判官)

Ogurihangan is a legendary figure and also refers to tales of this person as a protagonist that have been handed down since the Japanese medieval period.

It is also known by the names of 'Oguri no hangan,' 'Oguri [written in hiragana] hangan,' 'Okuri no hangan,' and 'Okuri.'
There still are many remaining traditions about Oguri, some of which were created later, and significant differences can be found among them. Many of such stories have been adapted for sermon ballads, Joruri (ballad dramas) and Kabuki dramas. Places related to Oguri retain their respective traditions, and Kumano-kaido Road, which was taken by Oguri, is also called Oguri-kaido Road.

His personal profile shows that Ogurihangan was FUJIWARA no Masakiyo with the name of Sukeshige and he was the lord of Oguri-jo Castle in Hitachi Province. It is said that Oguri was born as a son of FUJIWARA no Kaneie, an aristocrat in Heian-kyo (ancient capital of Japan in present-day Kyoto), and a woman from the Minamoto clan in Hitachi Province and died at the age of 83, but he is sometimes depicted as a personality in the 15th or 16th century. Oguri was good at horse riding and composition of Japanese Waka poems. Since he was born after childless Kaneie and his wife prayed to Bishamonten (Vaisravana) in Kurama region, Oguri was referred to as a Bishamonten's heaven-sent child.

The legend of Ogurihangan and the Princess Terute (Terutehime) remaining in Chosho-in Temple (Fujisawa City)

In 1415, when Zenshu UESUGI started a revolt in Kanto region, Mitsushige (which is the name of Ogurihangan's father but refers to Ogurihangan himself in this context) ran away as he was defeated by the shognate deputy Mochiuji ASHIKAGA, but Oguri became engaged to the Princess Terute, a young woman from Yokoyama family (Daizen YOKOYAMA's legend remains in Matano, Totsuka Ward, Yokohama City) in Sagami Province, whom he fell in love with while hiding together with 10 of his retainers in Sagami Province. Yokoyama was a thief who would kill travelers and steal their money and other valuables, and the Princess Terute was originally a child of a samurai warrior belonging to the Imperial Palace Guards on the north side who protected the Imperial Palace for Daijo Tenno (retired emperor) and Daijo Hoo (retired emperor who became a priest), but the Princess Terute was serving for Daizen YOKOYAMA for some reasons after she was bereaved of her parents at an early age. However, Shoji YOKOYAMA and his son, who were enraged by Orugihangan's act, framed various plots including an attempt to entice him to ride a restive force called 'Onikage' known as a man-eating horse so that the horse would bite him to death, but in vain. Finally, however, Oguri was given poisoned sake and killed with his retainers in Gongen-do Hall. Yokoyama grabbed valuables from Mitsushige (Oguri) and ordered his underlings to abandon the corpses of the 11 people in Uenohara City. The Princess Terute, who discovered the fact and secretly ran away from Yokoyama's residence, was charged with immorality and almost drowned in Sagami-gawa River, but was narrowly saved by a fisherman in Kanazawa Mutsuura. However, the fisherman's wife was jealous of the stunning beauty of the Princess Terute and sold her to a human trafficker on Mutsuura beach after repeating various kinds of maltreatment against her; the Princess Terute was sold to different places one after another but remained faithful to Oguri to the end.

Meanwhile, Ogurihangan was cast into Hell, dragged out before Enma Daio (the Great King Yama) and then returned to the earthly world by his judge, but Oguri was in the shape of an uncanny-looking starving demon suffering from a skin disease and could barely walk. However, Oguri was saved by Daiku Shonin (Saint Daiku) of Shojoko-ji Temple in Fujisawa City and traveled west on a cart along Tokai-do Road. The night when Ogurihangan was killed, Daiku Shonin had a strange dream in Yugyo-ji Temple in which Enma Daio appeared and said: "The corpses of 11 people have been abandoned in Uenohara City and Ogurihangan is the only one who could be resuscitated, so you should help me in putting him in Yunomine-onsen Hot Spring to restore his body," so Daiku Shonin followed the oracle by going to Uenohara, burying the dead retainers and bringing Ogurihangan, still showing signs of life, back to the temple.

Later, Ogurihangan met the Princess Terute by accident at an inn in Aobaka, Ogaki City, but Ogurihangan was guided to Otsu City by the Princess Terute without recognizing each other. Although his disease worsened further, Ogurihangan was guided by Yugyo Shonin and supported by the kindness of the Princess Terute and many benevolent people and managed to make a pilgrimage to Kumano Sanzan, where he completely recovered due to the medicinal effects of 'Tsubo-yu' of Yunomine-onsen Hot Spring, which was a cleansing place for pilgrimages to Kumano Sanzan, and this time he was offered a territory in Hitachi Province and even given a title of Hangan (judge). Moreover, as he went back to Hitachi Province, Ogurihangan led soldiers to defeat Daizen YOKOYAMA, and prayed to Buddha for the repose of his dead retainers. Also Ogurihangan found the Princess Terute, then working as a maid servant in Aobaka, Mino Province, out and they became a married couple at last. After Ogurihangan passed away, his younger brother Sukeshige took over the territory and bulit the tombs for Mitsushige and his retainers in Yugyo-ji Temple. The Princess Terute is said to have entered the Buddhist priesthood and built a thatched hut in the premises of Yugyo-ji Temple in 1429.

Legend of Ogurihangan depicted in sermon ballads

Originals include 'Ogurihangan' (author unknown) of 1675, 'Okuri no hangan' (by Sado Shichidayu Toyotaka), date unknown, and others.

One day, a legitimate child of Nijo no Dianagon (major councilor of Nijo) Kaneie, born as a heaven-sent child from Bishamonten (Vaisravana) in Kurama region, Ogurihangan could not resist the beauty of a giant snake taking the shape of a beautiful woman in Bosatsu-ike Pond and ended up having a sexual relationship with her on his way home from Kurama region. The giant snake became pregnant but as she was trying to hide in Shinsen-en Garden for fear of giving birth to the child, she started fighting against Ryujo (dragon woman) who was living there. This fighting brought about a rainstorm, which continued for seven days, and Oguri was accused of this and exiled to Hitachi Province. In this place, Oguri heard from a peddler about the Princess Terute who was a beautiful young woman staying with Yokoyama, the administrator of a town in Musashi Province and Sagami Province, and asked the peddler to deliver his letter to her. On receiving a reply from the Princess Terute, Oguri went to the Princess Terute with 10 of his retainers and forced her to have a matrilocal marriage. Yokoyama, who was furious about this, murdered Oguri and his retainers by poisoning, and Oguri was buried in Uenohara and his retainers were cremated. The Princess Terute was banished along Sagami-gawa River and then saved by Murakimi Dayu (performer Murakimi), but she was maltreated by the old woman of the house, and although she escaped the hardship under the protection of Senju Kannon (thousand-armed Buddhist deity of mercy), she was sold off to a human trafficker and then accepted in a general store in Aobaka, Mino Province, where she ended up being abused.

Meanwhile, by the judgment of Enma Diao (the Great King Yama), dead Oguri and his retainers were sent back to the present world together with a letter addressed to Yugyo Shonin (Saint Yugyo) in Fujisawa City saying, 'If they enter the hot spring in Kumano region, they can restore their bodies.'
Having seen a starving demon emerging from Oguri's tomb, Yugyo Shonin read the letter, put Oguri on a cart, and wrote 'One who pulls this cart will certainly contribute to the repose of the dead' on a wooden tag on his chest, and therefore Oguri was led by many people and reached Aobaka in Mino Province. The Princess Terute, working under the name of Kohagi HITACHI, pulled the cart for five days up to Otsu without knowing that he was Oguri, and Oguri arrived at Kumano at last. After taking hot spring cure with the medicinal effects of Yunomine-onsen Hot Spring in Kumano for 49 days, Oguri completely recovered and was able to restore his body. Later, Oguri returned to Kyoto, where he was praised by the emperor for his surprising return from death, and was granted the provinces of Hitachi, Suruga and Mino. Then, visiting Kohagi, who had kindly pulled his cart, Oguri found that she was the Princess Terute, and went up to the capital with her. Oguri destroyed Yokoyama shortly, and after his death, Oguri was enshrined in Shohachiman in Sunomata, Mino Province (Hachiman-jinja Shrine in Sunomata-cho, Ogaki City) as a hero who revived after death, and the Princess Terute was also enshrined as a deity of romantic ties.

Other traditions and literature
An imperial illustration scroll entitled 'Okuri' and a book of short stories with illustration entitled 'Okuri' are considered to have taken verses from sermon ballads. Similar tales can be found in Goze-uta, songs sung by blind female musicians.

Works in the recent past include Super Kabuki "Oguri" produced by Takeshi UMEHARA and first staged in 1991, and "Oguri! - from the Tale of Ogurihangan" played by the Flower Troupe of the Takarazuka Revue in 2009 (script by Shinji KIMURA, starring Kazuho SO). In 1990, Yoko KONDO adapted and published comics from the tale.

[Original Japanese]