Legends of Japan

Legends of Japan by Hiroshi Naito Read Free Book Online

Book: Legends of Japan by Hiroshi Naito Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hiroshi Naito
red, long-nosed goblin who is possessed of magic powers. Although it looks like a human being, it has a pair of big wings on its back and can fly as freely as a bird. Japanese tengu were represented by Sojo-bo of Mt. Kurama, Taro-bo of Mt. Atago, and Jiro-bo of Mt. Hiei—all these mountains rising around Kyoto.
    Once Chira Eiju, flying over the seas and mountains, came to Japan to call on Jiro-bo of Mt. Hiei. When talking with Jiro-bo, Chira Eiju boasted, "In my country, there is no one who can beat my magic power. Even a great magician priest is no match for me." The Japanese call a braggart a tengu. Chira Eiju could indeed be called a perfect tengu. He triumphantly boasted of his supernatural power, wriggling his long nose.
    "Although I have often heard about you, I did not know that you are such a great tengu," said Jiro-bo admiringly.
    At that, Chira Eiju, feeling more proud, went on, "Such being what I am, Japanese magician priests are all beneath my notice. Well, my dear Jiro-bo, shall I show you the great power of my magic?"
    "Oh, yes, please."
    "All right. Come with me!"
    They immediately went out to the busiest path on the mountain. There, Chira Eiju meant to throw a spell over passers-by. Jiro-bo, being a well-known person in the mountains, hid himself behind a big tree and watched what the Chinese tengu was going to do.
    "Are you ready, dear Jiro-bo? Now watch me!" So saying, he quickly turned into the figure of an old Buddhist priest. In that shape, he meant to await the arrival of his victim. After a while, along came a high priest named Yokei.
    "Here he comes!" Jiro-bo cried at the sight of the priest, and intently watched what Ghira Eiju would do with him. He imagined the Chinese tengu would have the priest walk on his hands, or turn him into a frog or a worm. Second after second, time elapsed; but nothing happened to the priest. Priest Yokei just walked briskly away, looking as if nothing was the matter with him.
    Jiro-bo was not a little disappointed. "I say, dear Chira Eiju, what's wrong?" he asked, turning his head toward the Chinese goblin, and was surprised to see... no Chira Eiju there! "Hey, where are you?" When Jiro-bo looked in the distance by shading his eyes with his hand, he found the Chinese tengu hanging upside down from a tall tree in the valley.
    "My dear Chira Eiju, what are you doing down there?" yelled Jiro-bo.
    "O dear, dear! Whoever is that monk?"
    "He is a famous mountaineering ascetic named Yokei. Perhaps he is on his way to the Imperial Palace to offer a prayer," Jiro-bo replied. "I expected you would have that famous priest spin himself round and round like a top."
    Chira Eiju mumbled with a shudder, "Gosh! He beat me. When I saw him coming along, I rejoiced thinking 'Here comes my fellow!' But in a moment, his figure turned into a great flame and it came near me. I was almost burnt. He threw a spell of fire over me."
    "Well, don't be discouraged. Try again," Jiro-bo urged.
    Chira Eiju again turned himself into the figure of an old priest. Presently there came a high priest named Jinzen, riding on a palanquin, attended by a page with a cane in his hand.
    "Here he comes!"
    Chira Eiju had scarcely rejoiced at the arrival of his second prey, when the page turned to him and sharply shouted at him, "You rude fellow!"
    That was enough. Boastful Chira Eiju once again was blown off to a distance.
    "You were beaten again, dear Chira Eiju."
    "Yes, but what's the matter with me today," wondered the Chinese goblin, obstinately refusing to acknowledge his defeat.
    "Whoever was he? Pretending to be asleep on the palanquin, that bonze was secretly offering an exorcizing prayer. He even had a strong bodyguard, a follower of the Fire God. That's why I could not put a spell on them. I bet you I'll beat the next one."
    They did not wait long before a magnificent procession came along. It was a procession of Jikei, the archbishop of the Enryaku-ji temple atop Mt. Hiei.
    "Oh, here comes a big figure!"

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