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April Fools' Special

True or False: Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave, the Village of the Heike Fallen Warriors

The Mystical Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave
The Mystical Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave

Hello! Being a liar is the start of being a writer (maybe?), this is Maruhanabachi, a housewife writer. For this April Fools' Special, I will introduce you to the Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave, known for its legend of Heike fallen warrior!
Among all the fallen warrior legends across Japan, this place is relatively unknown, but what about whether it is true or false?

Well, speaking of the fallen warrior legend, we need to review the Tale of the Heike. The beginning of the Tale of the Heike is very famous. I think everyone would remember learning it in their classic Japanese classes.

"The sound of the bells of Gion Monastery tells us that nothing in the world stays the same; The colours of the blossoms of the Shorea tree signify that all that flourish must fade.
The arrogance does not last long, just like spring night’s dream.
Even the mighty eventually falls, all is like the dust before the wind.
("The Tale of the Heike (1)" Kajihara Masaaki, Yamashita Hiroaki Annotations, Iwanami Bunko)

The text continues with "If you cross distant foreign lands...", but this opening part expresses that all things are not permanent, using Buddhist terms. I personally think that this is one of the finest pieces of writing in Japanese history.
The Gion Shoja refers to a Shoja (a Buddhist monastery) in India, one of the places where Buddha gave his sermons.
The Shorea robusta is a tall tree with fragrant white flowers, under which it is said that Sakyamuni Buddha passed away.

The Battle of Dan-no-ura, where the Heike family perished and the sea was said to be dyed red with blood.
The Battle of Dan-no-ura, where the Heike family perished and the sea was said to be dyed red with blood.

As the prologue, which is imbued with the sense of impermanence, says, The Tale of the Heike depicts the rise and fall of the Heike family.
Taira no Kiyomori, following his father who was granted an unprecedented promotion, rose to the rank of Daijō Daijin (Prime Minister) in a single generation, married his daughter Tokuko to the emperor, and became the emperor's grandfather.
He controlled the government with Emperor Takakura as his puppet, and reached the peak of prosperity. it was said "If you are not a Heike, you are not a human".

On the other hand, there was a lot of backlash against his authoritarian politics, and discontent against the Heike family.
And then, due to the uprising of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the eldest son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo who saved his life when he was young engaged in an all-out war with the Minamoto clan. They were gradually pushed further west.
In addition, in the midst of his disadvantaged situation in the war, Kiyomori, who had led the family, died of illness.
Finally, he was defeated in the battle of Dan-no-ura in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Kiyomori's wife, Nii-no-Ama, drowned herself with her grandson Emperor Antoku and the three sacred treasures in her arms. (However, it is said that these three sacred treasures were Katashiro)
Emperor Antoku, died at the age of 8.
History is a cruel thing.

Thus, the era continued to the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate, but this battle that changed history remained in the world as a story for a long time, and its influence remains surprisingly.

Japanese spiraea bloom in white and pink, also called Genpei blooming
Japanese spiraea bloom in white and pink, also called Genpei blooming

For example, reversible red and white cap or Red & White Year-end Song Festival.
The red flag is the Heike, the white flag is the Genji.
The competition between red and white is based on the Genji and Heike clans.
Some plants, such as peaches and plums, have flowers of red and white on the same tree, and they are called Genpei peaches or Genpei plums, and this way of blooming is also called Genpei blooming.
Also, there is a feeling of sympathy for the weak or the defeated, which is called "hangan biki" (sympathy for the underdog).
This hangan is Minamoto Yoshitsune. He was called Saemon no Jo (Saemon's judge) because he was a judge of Saemon in the Left Guard.
The date of completion of The Tale of the Heike is uncertain, but it is said that it already existed in the late Kamakura period.
The author is unknown.
Yoshida Kenko wrote about a person named Shinano no Zenji Yukinaga in his "Tsurezuregusa".
Shinano no Zenji Yukinaga was famous for his well-educated and knowledgeable, but he made a mistake in front of the emperor, and he learned that he was nicknamed for that, and he abandoned his studies and retired from the world.
"This monk Yukanaga, who composed the Tale of the Heike, taught it to a blind man called Shobutsu and made him recite it."
("New Edition Tsurezuregusa" annotated by Nishio Minoru and Yasuraoka Kosaku, Iwanami Bunko)
Nyudo means a person who becomes a believer in Buddhism.
There are different opinions on the theory of Shinano no Zenji Yukinaga, and it is not confirmed who was the author of The Tale of the Heike.
In any case, it is certain that he was a person who was very knowledgeable and talented in writing.
As Yoshida Kenko wrote, The Tale of the Heike was also something that blind people narrated while playing the biwa as their livelihood.
They called The Tale of the Heike and its music Heike biwa or Heikyoku.
Koizumi Yakumo's work "Miminashi Hoichi" is exactly about Hoichi, a blind man who was fascinated by the vengeful spirits of the Heike because of his wonderful Heike biwa, and barely avoided the difficulty by having sutras written all over his body.
As for The Tale of the Heike written in letters, there are two main manuscripts left today.
・Engyo edition... Considered to retain the oldest form (owned by the Gotoh Museum in Setagaya, Tokyo)
・Nagato edition... Owned by Akama Shrine in Nagato Akamagaseki (currently in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture), which enshrines Emperor Antoku.
In addition, there are various editions, such as the Genpei Seisuiki, which adds a large number of episodes to The Tale of the Heike, one of which is the Ugaku edition.
The Ugaku edition tells the legend of a fallen worrior who was descended from the Heike clan and managed to escape to a village, where he spent the rest of his life.
That person is Yorihime, the daughter of Taira no Michimori. Please refer to the family tree.

The family tree (abridged) of the Heike family. ★ indicates that person.
The family tree (abridged) of the Heike family. ★ indicates that person.

Taira no Michimori was the nephew of Kiyomori, and he fought as a samurai lord and was killed in the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani.
His wife, Kozai-shō, was said to be the most beautiful woman in the court. Despite being pregnant at the time of Michimori's death, she followed him in death by suicide.
However, according to the Ugaku edition, Kozai-shō gave birth just before her death, and the wet nurse took the child and sought refuge with Chunagon (vice-Councilor of the State) Risshi (Buddhist priest), Cyukai, who had become a monk.
And then, Cyukai did everything he could to help Yorihime escape from Suma to Sanuki, and she lived quietly in a village called Mizore-ga-tani.
From Yorihime's perspective, Kiyomori would be her great-uncle.
From Kiyomori's perspective... I looked it up and found out that the child of a nephew is called a grandniece.
Mizore-ga-tani Ryujin Cave is located on a small island called Washi Island in Kagawa Prefecture.
It is far from Aichi Prefecture, so I left early in the morning. I could only go by boat, so I headed for the pier.
There were only two ferries a day, so it would be terrible if I missed them!

  • Pier. No sign of tourists.
    Pier. No sign of tourists.
  • The back of the town is in ruins
    The back of the town is in ruins

It is a small island that is not very touristy, and seems to be suffering from depopulation.
The deeper you go into the town, the more deserted it becomes, and there are many houses that are decaying.

  • Climb the mountain path to the cape.
    Climb the mountain path to the cape.
  • The view from the summit.
    The view from the summit.

Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave is located near the tip of the narrow island, and the only way to get there is to go through a mountain path, and you walk a lot.
The summit is windy, but the view is very good, and you can look down on the cape you are aiming for. I want to fly there...

  • Getting near to the cape
    Getting near to the cape
  • The Otome Rock where Yorihime prayed daily.
    The Otome Rock where Yorihime prayed daily.

After climbing, you just go down. You must not think about the way back. You go down with a clear mind.
If you look back, the mountain from where you came down becomes a cliff facing the sea, and rough rocks are exposed and washed by the sea waves.
This is Otome Rock.
Yorihime stood on this cliff every day, facing west and praying for the bodhi of the Heike clan.

  • Weeping cherry is blooming
    Weeping cherry is blooming
  • No one in the Ryujin cave
    No one in the Ryujin cave
  • God of water. Ryujin is enshrined.
    God of water. Ryujin is enshrined.

Near the pond, a weeping cherry tree, which was planted as a landmark, was in full bloom. Does Ryujindo have spring water? Pure water is dripping down.
As Ryujin is a water god, this name is suitable.
However, this is not all of it.
Surprisingly, there is a shrine that enshrines Yorihime in the back. It's a little scary to go further in!

  • In fact, it continues undergroundる
    In fact, it continues underground
  • The Yorihime Shrine built underground.
    The Yorihime Shrine built underground.

The stairs to the underground were more neatly arranged than I expected, and there was electricity in the small shrine.
A waterway of the spring water of the Ryujin Cave that I saw above continued from the shrine to the back of the cave.
Actually, this cave is connected to the outside, and it is said that Yorihime landed on Washi Island from there.
Yorihime fled to this land with a few followers.
Even in the Ugaku edition, there is not much written about what happened to Yorihime after that, but she must have been forced to live on an island that she did not know.
Even in those days, she prayed every day facing west. Don’t you feel sad when you imagine that scene?
In the dimly lit shrine, I prayed while thinking about Yorihime, who was played by fate.
Well, when I went out to the ground, something surprising happened.
Although it was warm enough for cherry blossoms to bloom, the sky suddenly darkened and it started snowing.

When I came out of the Ryujin Cave, suddenly snow…
When I came out of the Ryujin Cave, suddenly snow…

As the name Mizoregatani suggests, I was a little disappointed (?) that it was not sleet.
It stopped soon, but I left the shrine with a strange feeling.
How was the Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave?
History is always on the side of the winners.
If you win, you are the government army, if you lose, you are the rebel army. The ending of the Tale of the Heike was exactly that.
What is told is the “truth” for those who survived, which is different from the facts.
There may be lies in the truth, and truth in the lies.
It is difficult for an ordinary person like me to judge whether the story of Yorihime, who is said to sleep in the Mizoregatani Ryujin Cave, is also a lie or a truth, and I have no choice but to leave it to the readers. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.