While yesterday’s story was quite Halloween-ish and creepy, today’s is a bit more amusing. It still has plenty of creepy elements though. Since Shokoku hyakumonogatari is written as a collection of stories told by different people around a lamp on a spooky night, it’s fun to have stories that vary in length, mood, and humor. It really gives the impression that there are different speakers telling each tale, and each storyteller has their own style.
How Rokutan no Genshichi Saved an Adulterous Woman
In the capital of Kyōto there was a famous gambler called Rokutan no Genshichi. One day he decided to travel to eastern Japan in search of a good opponent. While he was on the road it grew dark, and he stopped at a certain village and asked around for lodging to rent.
Somebody told him, “In this village it is forbidden to rent rooms to people. You can find a room about 10 kilometers down the road from here.”
Genshichi had no choice but to go there, but there was no house to be found. He searched here and there, and as the night grew darker, he came across a shrine in a forest, with just a few candles for light. Feeling lucky to have found such a place, he decided to spend the night there, and lay down beside the shrine.
Just after midnight, he saw a faint firelight coming from the east. Genshichi wondered what it could be, and as he watched the direction of the fire, it came closer and closer to the shrine. Eventually, a man of about 30 years carrying a large sword and a paper lantern came to the shrine and entered it.
Genshichi’s hair stood on end, and he shrunk back in fear. The man looked around the shrine, and then climbed up to the 2nd floor. Genshichi became even more afraid and wondered what was up there when he heard a woman scream from the second floor of the shrine. A short time later, the man came back down carrying his paper lantern, and went back the way he came.
Genshichi began to worry who was on the second floor. He lit a light from the shrine’s candles and went upstairs to see. He discovered a beautiful woman of about 20 years, covered in wounds and tied up. Genshichi was horrified.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am no henge. I am ashamed to say this, but I am a woman who has cheated on my husband. Because of this, he punishes me every night by doing this to me. I’m sure he will kill me soon. Please have mercy on me. If you cut these ropes and save me, I will never forget it for all of eternity.” The woman cried in anguish.
Genshichi wondered about the situation, but he felt such pity for her that he cut her bindings. The woman was so overjoyed that she clasped her hands together.
“Well now, I am so grateful! I would leave here immediately, but I cannot walk even a single step. Would you please carry me on your back? My parents’ house is about five and a half kilometers from here, so please take me there.”
Genshichi felt he had no choice, so he hoisted her up onto his back and carried her down and out of the shrine. After carrying her about five or six hundred meters the woman said, “I forgot something back at the shrine. Please take me back there.”
Genshichi felt sorry for her, so he took her back to the shrine and placed her back inside the shrine. Then the woman crawled underneath the veranda. As Genshichi was seething with the feeling that he had been deceived, the woman crawled back out from under the veranda carrying a package wrapped in paper. So Genshishi put the woman back on his back and they continued their journey.
Before long they arrived at her parents’ house. Genshichi explained what happened to her parents, and they were overjoyed. “You are a savior!” they said and treated Genshichi to many things.
As Genshichi was saying his farewells, the woman came out after him, politely bowed, and then presented the paper-wrapped package.
“This is my lover’s head. Please turn it over to a temple somewhere.”
She handed the package as well as 30 ryo in gold to Genshichi.
Genshichi accepted the package and left. About two kilometers away, he dumped the package into a river and kept the gold for himself. Instead of heading east, he turned back to towards the capital. He told everybody that he was able to acquire so much money because he was a brave man.