Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Snake at the Do-jo-ji Temple

Every year during the rainy season the pilgrim Anchin was welcomed into the home of a goodly peasant to rest on his way to the Dojoji Temple, deep in the mountains of Wakayama province. Each time, the good peasant would promise his daughter Kiyo-hime, princess of purity, that one day Anchin the monk would take her as his loving wife.

On one such visit when the lovestruck girl had grown up, she expressed her love to the young monk, who fled in alarm towards the Temple, hiding to escape her under its great sacred bell. Kiyo-hime, who had pursued the object of her love, fell into the waters as she tried to cross a river and was transformed into a Fire Snake. When the woman-snake reached the Dojoji Temple, she wrapped herself seven-fold full of pain and fury around the great sacred bell, dissolving it with the poor priest inside in her molten anger.

From that time on, the Dojoji Temple has had no bells and women are forbidden to enter. However, on certain days, a young woman visits the place, knocking on its door and lulling the monks to sleep with her songs and dancing. It is the spirit of the Fire-Snake, the ghost of Kiyo-hime, the maiden who had been spurned and tormented by her love and turned into the demon of a woman-snake because of her pain and anger.

This retelling of the story by Origlam

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