A-Yokai-A-Day: The Attachment of a Goze at an Inn in Mitsuke, Tōtōmi Province

The title of this story refers to a goze. Goze were a female counterpart to zatō, who we looked at earlier this month. The women were traveling entertainers who told stories, sang, and played the drum, biwa, or shamisen. They were usually blind women, although some goze had varying levels of sightedness.

It’s not clear whether the woman in this story was an actual blind goze. The title calls her a goze, but in the story and the illustration found in the original book she seems to be sighted. She may just be an ordinary woman who is being compared to a goze for her singing and playing.

The Attachment of a Goze at an Inn in Mitsuke, Tōtōmi Province

A man traveling from Kyōto to the east stopped at an inn in Mitsuke, in the province of Tōtōmi. Late at night, he heard a woman’s voice singing a ballad and playing the shamisen in the adjacent room. The song was so beautiful and tender that he could hardly bear to listen to it. Overcome with feelings of nostalgia, the man slipped into the adjacent room to see the singer. However, the room was unlit. Thinking this terribly strange, the man called out:

“What kind of person is staying in this room? I am a man from Kyōto, but I have never heard such music even in the capital. I could no longer contain myself, so I crept into this room. Isn’t this truly a meeting brought about by the gods and buddhas? Please allow me to sleep with you and let us talk throughout the night.”

The woman replied, “How could one as lowly as I appear before a guest from the capital?”

Her reply was so sweet and so humble that the man’s yearning for her grew even stronger.

“Why do you hold back? I am not yet married, but I would pledge myself to you for my next two lifetimes!”

The woman replied, “If you truly feel that way, and if you swear to the gods that you will take me as your wife for the rest of your life, then I will do whatever you say.”

The man swore by the names of all of the gods across Japan, speaking terrifying oaths in order to persuade the woman. She was so moved by his words that she opened her heart to him, and they spent the night together as if it were one thousand nights.

Soon dawn broke. When the man looked at the woman’s face and saw how ugly she was, he was so shocked that he ran out of the inn without even paying the innkeeper. He ran towards the east, but thinking that she would probably follow him, doubled back and returned to the capital. When he reached the ferry at Tenryū, he looked back and saw that the woman was chasing him.

The man was desperate. “Please, kill the woman following me and dump her in the river!” he asked the ferryman. Then he handed the ferryman a sword and 10 ryo in gold coins. The ferryman was so pleased with the money that he stabbed the woman and then drowned her in the depths of the water. The man was so pleased that he hurried back to the previous inn to spend the night.

In the dead of night, an unknown person knocked violently on the inn’s gate. The innkeeper went outside, and he saw a woman who looked very different from most people.

“I want to see the man from the capital staying at this inn!” she demanded.

The innkeeper was so startled that his hair stood on end. He replied, “There is nobody staying at this inn.” Then he closed the door and let the traveler hide in his storehouse, then he pretended not to know he was there.

The woman kicked open the front gate and went inside. She searched all over for the man. At one point the innkeeper heard a scream coming from the storehouse, but he was too scared to investigate.

In the morning, the innkeeper checked inside the storehouse. He found the man torn into two or three pieces. He was shocked and appalled, and completely at a loss for words.

A woman in a kimono plays the shamisen. Her large hat hides her face.

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