B23 The Demon Candlestick


Show Notes for bonus episode 23 of our Podcast – The Demon Candlestick.

Story Notes

The Demon Candlestick

Now this particular tale I came across when doing research into the yokai from the Konjaku Hyakki Shūi by Toriyama Sekien.

And notes alongside this creature in the book I was using also led us down a rabbit hole and now we have something for a future main episode surrounding a man known as Minister Kibi due to the inclusion of a go board in the background of the creatures illustration (but that is for a later date).

However, let us dive into the short tale surrounding the Demon Candlestick, the full tale of which can be found in the Wakan Sansai Zue.

In Japanese this creature is called the Tōdaiki. It wasn’t always a candlestick, in fact it was a first a man known as Minister Karu (軽大臣). He was sent to China as an envoy, however there he found himself poisoned by one of the Ministers there. Following this, the poisoner colours the mans body and places a candlestick upon his head which transformed him into this poor creature.

The story goes on to say that his son eventually came to find him, a man by the name of Chancellor Hitsu (弼宰相) and when his father sees his son it is said he bit his finger and composed a poem which went as follows:

I am from Japan; we share the same family name.
我元日本華京客 汝是一家同姓人

A vow from a previous life made us father and child. Across the sea and mountains, my life has changed terribly.
為子為爺前世契 隔山隔海変生辛

For years have I cried in this weed-choked place; all I can think about are my previous parents.
経年流涙蓬蒿宿 遂日馳思蘭菊親

I have been transformed into a candle-stick demon in this foreign village, but I only want to return home.
形破他郷作灯鬼 争帰旧里寄斯身

Following all of this his son then attempts to take his father home, however, he passes away before reaching the island of Iwo Jima. And so Minister Karu found himself buried on an island known as Kikaigashima (Demon Realm Island).

To this day you can find a shrine in his memory at the base of Mount Inamuradake on Iwo Jima.

And that is the tale of the Demon Candlestick.

Header Image: Burning Candles from Pixabay.


  • Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
  • Excite Blog, Japanese translation of the poem by Oshiragami.

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Heavenly Spear